Convex: In for the long haul
For 35 years, the Bermuda End to End, now the Convex End-to-End, has been raising money for selected charities by encouraging thousands of people to walk, run, bike and swim the length of the island.
There is no other event like it, and it has proven to be durable, surviving the Covid-19 pandemic to come back as strong as ever in in 2023.
As a result, three charities became the latest beneficiaries of the efforts of more than 2,500 people who raised money for them. This year, the Bermuda Zoological Society, the Eliza DoLittle Society and Vision Bermuda each received $50,000 while Gina Spence Productions and the Skills Development Programme each received $25,000 from the event, which is sponsored by re/insurance company Convex.
Bermuda High School also received $15,000 after winning the 2023 Deloitte School Award thanks to its students fundraising efforts.
Anne Mello, chair of the End-to-End, said: “We are thrilled with the turnout and support for this year’s event; we had 2,500 participants from sailors and rowers to walkers and cyclists.
“Thanks to their fundraising efforts and the support of our sponsors we were able to donate $215,000 to local charities that are doing incredibly important work in our community.
“We would like to recognise and thank our sponsors for their exceptional support, without title sponsor Convex and platinum sponsors Butterfield and Deloitte, the End-to-End would not be possible.”
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Stephen Catlin, chair of Convex, added: “The 2023 Convex End-to-End was yet again an enormously enjoyable experience. We saw the whole island come together, putting on a show of its generosity and community spirit. My gratitude goes out to all the volunteers, donors, and participants whose contributions make it possible for many great initiatives to flourish.”
For Convex, becoming the sponsor of the event in 2022 should have been no surprise. Catlin’s previous eponymous company sponsored the event for many years after the underwriter moved its headquarters to Bermuda and remained firmly committed to it.
That same philosophy applies to four-year-old Convex, says Ashley Stockwell, the head of marketing for the specialty re/insurer. Its giving philosophy is anchored on the idea of staying with its partners for the long haul.
“We try and build long term relationships,” he says. “The End to End is a minimum of three years and I'd be shocked and stunned if it wasn't extended for another three years. Our group sponsorship of Alzheimer's research in the UK was three years, we've just extended that. So that will be a six-year relationship.
“Building longevity and commitment into those relationships is important. It's not just a one hit and we'll move on to something else. When you are building your commitment, you build your relationship with the teams and the organisation that you're working with. And you can begin to add more and more value to it.”
When Convex agreed to be title sponsor, Anne Mello went out of her way to note the company’s “thoughtful and enthusiastic interest”.
She added: “Operating since 1987, ETE has a deep understanding of local concerns and the organizations who work to effect needed change. We exceeded over $6 million in giving to Bermuda’s not-for-profit community last year. This year, through the vitality of both the Bermuda End-to-End Charitable Trust and Convex, we hope to attract an even larger number of participants to join us on event day.”
Catlin said of the event: “The Convex End-to-End is a great occasion for the whole island to come together and raise essential funds for local charities, and allows us to demonstrate Convex’s enduring commitment to Bermuda, its causes and the wider community.”
Convex has also supported Elliot Primary School since the company was founded and has been able to leverage its other commitments to help the school. One of those commitments is sponsoring Dame Flora Duffy, Bermuda’s only Olympic gold medalist as she prepares for the Paris Olympic Games in 2024.
As a result of that sponsorship, Convex was able to invite Duffy to the school where she spoke to the students, Stockwell says.
“We are able to use that opportunity to get someone as inspirational as Flora Duffy for the kids, a Bermudian, to go to primary school, and talk about her achievements, and give the kids a sense of what's possible. It's just an illustration of how we're trying to maximise all of those opportunities, not just from a Convex point of view, but from the community's perspective.”
Philanthropy and community engagement has been a part of Convex’s DNA since it was founded by Catlin and chief executive Paul Brand, says Stockwell.
Convex also believes in engaging in the charitable endeavours it supports, and to lend its expertise as well.
In the case of the End to End, this means being involved in everything from working with the committee on the design of the T shirts and other marketing activities and helping to drive sign-ups.
“We're also trying to get the corporate community involved and engaged. For example we are encouraging a bit of friendly competition among reinsurers and the financial services businesses in Bermuda, to see who can raise the most money, who can do it the quickest and so on, to really get a sense of engagement,” Stockwell says.
“Paul and Stephen are passionate about our company culture, and see that as a competitive advantage,” says Stockwell. “And as such, we are very committed and focused on delivering. That's in the round, whether that's how we look after our employees, the community and our environment. All of those things are really crucial.
“For the younger generation these considerations are becoming increasingly important. For Convex, from Stephen and Paul's point of view, this commitment is fundamental and has been at the core of our organisation from the very beginning.”
The environment has been a passion for Catlin for decades.
When Catlin the re/insurer was an independent company – it is now part of AXA XL – it sponsored the Catlin Arctic Survey, which sent expeditions to the Arctic over the course of three years to measure the effects of climate change on the polar ice cap.
This was followed by the XL Catlin Seaview Survey which measured the state of the world’s coral reefs and created a baseline of their condition between 2012 and 2018. Bermuda was among the countries visited.
Now Convex is sponsoring the Seascape Survey, which is designed to learn how carbon is stored in the ocean’s floors and in the seascape – the seabed near land.
The survey, being carried out in conjunction with the University of Exeter and the Blue Marine Foundation, is a multi-year and multi-million dollar project.
When it was launched, Convex noted: “The ocean could be our staunchest ally in our fight against climate change, however its impact remains an unsolved yet fundamental question. In a time of global emergency, the seascape could provide much needed answers as well as nature-based solutions to the current climate crisis.
“Spearheaded by BLUE and the University of Exeter, and in collaboration with leading scientific institutions worldwide, the survey will provide timely, accurate, and open access data on the world’s seabed carbon stores.”
It added: “This research is essential; studies have shown that ocean-based mitigation could provide up to a fifth of the solution needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and narrow the emissions gap. Yet the ocean seabed remains largely unprotected and seascape carbon is presently not accounted for in the inventories of carbon emissions compiled by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change.”
Catlin said: “Anticipating and mitigating future risks is at the heart of what we do at Convex. Our ability to make informed decisions rests upon our access to and analysis of robust data – the same is true when combatting climate change.
“Significant results will take global effort. This survey will encompass the expertise of scientists spanning continents and will build upon the research gathered from the Catlin Arctic Survey and the Catlin Seaview Survey. This is a huge opportunity to support cutting-edge and impactful research.”
“Everybody associates carbon and carbon capture with rain forests,” adds Stockwell. “But no one really understands the potential opportunities found within the seascape or the potential impact of human behaviour on carbon in the seascape. The Convex Seascape Survey shares a similar goal to that of the Catlin surveys; to create open source data.
“We're not trying to come to any conclusions, or drive any change. But we want to provide as much data as we can so that scientists, policymakers and legislators can then use that data to inform and make better decisions about how we look after the oceans particularly. Hopefully, there will be some great science that comes out of the back of it.”
While this project does not affect Bermuda directly, the island’s vulnerability to climate change means this work is vitally important to the island. Convex also supports an internship at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Science as well, to foster education and encourage scientific enquiry on the island.
In many ways the Convex Seascape Survey sums up how Convex and the re/insurance industry generally works; it finds global solutions to risk which benefits Bermuda as well.