Cina Welch acknowledges the irony. As senior vice president and chief risk officer for the FCCI Insurance Group, she is responsible for mitigating potential risk in every aspect of the company, from regulatory compliance to data security.
Yet, in her private life, Welch courts grand adventure. She’s climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in a snowstorm, swum 1.7 miles across San Francisco Bay in raging currents, volunteered at a conservation park for injured elephants in Thailand, taught English at a Cambodian school, and completed a great white shark cage dive off northern California’s San Farallon Islands. (She’s playing with the idea of doing another later this summer.) When Welch decided to take up running, she ran her very first marathon in Anchorage, Alaska, eight miles of which was on a rock trail.
“The running joke about me around FCCI is, ‘She takes the most risks of anybody,’” Welch says.
Her risky business began 11 years ago. “I wanted to learn something new for my 35th birthday, so I went out to Santa Monica to learn to surf,” she says. It rapidly progressed from there. “I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was 12 years old, so I found a 100-mile bike ride around Lake Tahoe to participate in,” she says. “My mom said maybe you should start with a 10-mile ride, and maybe you should get a bike.”
Welch started making a goal list. “It was important to look at every aspect of my life—having a fitness goal, a personal development goal, a charitable goal. Life is short; I want to maximize all that,” she says. “I’m the kind of person who can easily get caught up in work. When that happens, I pull out my list and say, ‘What am I going to do now to get more balance?’”
Welch says these experiences have enriched her life immeasurably. “But you don’t have to go halfway around the world,” she says. “If you think a little bit outside your box, there are things right outside your door right here in our own community that you can do.”