September 10, 2012

This will be the first time in 11 years that I have not been in New York City or my hometown of Hoboken, N.J., on September 11. I’m in Naples, Fla., to attend the StoneRiver Summit, and I’m looking forward to a couple of days of education and networking; I’ll be speaking about the challenges insurers face in achieving true customer intimacy. In short, it will be a busy, normal and hopefully productive day of business at an industry event.

That’s exactly what I expected 11 years ago when I headed downtown on a beautiful morning to attend a Humana press conference that was to take place at 55 Broad Street, a few blocks from the World Trade Center. I made it to 55 Broad safe and sound, but instead of networking I was taking shelter from what had become a war zone.

Although I know that for the many people who lost family members or colleagues in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks nothing was ever the same after that awful day, for most of us -- even those of us who were at or near the Twin Towers that day -- life did eventually resume familiar routines. We travel, go to meeting, attend conferences, write proposals. That’s a good thing, not something to complain about. Even when we’re crazed with deadlines and difficult projects, we’re lucky to have these opportunities to create, connect and achieve.

But while life went “back to normal” (inane phrase), of course it really was not the same. Our understanding of risk expanded. We revised business continuity plans. We rethought how we planned, located and built data centers. We got more aggressive about organizing and leveraging information. It’s good when businesses and industries can learn from catastrophes and other developments and improve operations, performance and results.

In its own small way, being on the road on the 9/11 anniversary is important to me. It signifies the passage of time, confidence, business growth and perspective. I’ll never forget my personal experience from that day, I’ll never forget its impact on the financial services industry, and most importantly I’ll never forget the loss, heroism and resilience of so many people.

[What kind of technology and operational changes were spurred by the September 1 terrorist attacks? Read Read What Has Changed in Insurance in 10 Years?]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Katherine Burger is Editorial Director of Bank Systems & Technology and Insurance & Technology, members of UBM TechWeb's InformationWeek Financial Services. She assumed leadership of Bank Systems & Technology in 2003 and of Insurance & ...