Filed Under:Agent Broker, Commercial Business

RIMS Preview: Demand for Supply-Chain Education and Getting Smarter on Cyber

RIMS leaders, members of NU’s Risk Managers Advisory Board weigh in on the conference’s past and present

In a disaster-filled 2011, risk managers were reminded of the world’s dependency on a global supply chain—and of their need to keep data safe from hackers.

These developments and several others have caused a significant shift in the types of risks companies need to address—and in the type of education risk-management professionals need.

These emerging educational requirements are reflected in the sessions at the 50th annual Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS) conference and exhibition, set for April 15-18 in Philadelphia.

This year’s highlights include keynote presentations by that confounder of conventional wisdom, Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane (the real-life subject of the Brad Pitt film “Moneyball”); and Aspen Institute President/CEO Walter Isaacson, the biographer of Steve Jobs.

Scheduled panels will explore such critical issues as cyber risk, natural-disaster preparation, enterprise risk management (ERM) and evolving legal issues.

NU asked both the RIMS conference chair and veteran members of our Risk Managers Advisory Board to share their expectations of what they hope to take away from this year’s convention—and to offer advice to RIMS newbies.

Lori Seidenberg
Director of the RIMS Conference Committee;
Vice President/Enterprise Risk Management
Centerline Capital Group

What are some of the big issues RIMS is confronting this year?

RIMS is changing, and our conference theme is “No Boundaries.” Risk managers are looked at from the outside as more or less people who place insurance. We are educating people that risk management is far more than that—it’s across an organization. We look at ERM, and we need to focus on assisting risk managers to further their careers and solve issues.

What does RIMS consider the top educational and informational needs being addressed at the conference?

There is definitely a lot of focus on business continuity, supply-chain risk management and cyber risk. We are focusing on global risk management as well. Even though the majority of our members are from the U.S., they deal with international issues.

What unique perspective will the keynote speakers bring to the conference?

Billy Beane’s concept [for transforming the Oakland A’s on a limited budget] involved strategy, and today’s risk managers need to practice effective strategic risk management (SRM) to help their organizations avoid unnecessary consequences as well as identify new opportunities.

Since SRM is one of our major initiatives, with several sessions being offered, his presence at the conference is a good match.

Walter Isaacson is a leadership guru. Effective ERM starts with an effective leadership team that can work together to successfully break down silos. This process is critical to identify real exposures to their organization. 

NU’s Risk Managers Advisory Board

Daniel Kugler
Assistant Treasurer, Risk Management
Snap-On Inc.

How have the themes and goals of the RIMS conference changed in the 20 years you’ve been attending?

The sessions have improved dramatically, and a broader array of sessions are offered depending on the risk professional’s expertise and tenure in the business. This year, there are plenty of sessions on ERM and a session comprised of past RIMS presidents, giving us a chance to hear their perspective.

What are the top educational and informational needs you’re hoping to have addressed at the conference?

I’m definitely going to a session for franchise companies, as Snap-On has a franchise for tool distributors. I’m also attending a couple of ERM sessions. We have a fleet, so we are going to the vehicle-fleet program to share experiences and best practices. That’s critical.

What advice do you have for RIMS first-timers about maximizing their conference experience?

You can’t take it all in, so try to focus on key sessions—[try to identify] the top five sessions that you can hit in a three-day period.

Tim East
Director, Corporate Risk Management
The Walt Disney Co.

How have the themes and goals of the RIMS conference changed in the 17 years you’ve been attending?

When I first started it was narrowly focused on property insurance, health and workers’ comp. Now it’s much broader and includes financial sessions and more on holistic approaches to risk.

What advice do you have for RIMS first-timers about maximizing their conference experience?

I would say to attend the educational sessions, but not to miss spending a lot of time on the exhibition floor. I compare it to ancient Greece or Rome, where a whole marketplace would come together to see what’s new and different out there. It’s also a time to get together with old friends, meet new ones and see what’s up.

This is an opportunity for people to invest in themselves. Turn off your BlackBerrys, and don’t answer your e-mails for the day. Be there. This is so valuable—relationships are so valuable. Immerse yourself in the conference and in the opportunities that are there.

Property & casualty is a business of relationships. You need to develop and maintain relationships with people. If you only reach out when you have a problem, you have a problem.

William J. Montanez
Director of Risk Management and Insurance
Ace Hardware Corp.

What are the top needs you’re hoping to have addressed at the conference?

I’m definitely looking forward to the ERM sessions and also looking for updates on cyber risk. Our company has a lot of IT operations, so it’s near and dear to my heart.  

What advice do you have for RIMS first-timers about maximizing their conference experience?

The biggest benefit I get from this, aside from education, is that I get to network and reinforce my network. For a lot of folks I know, this is our annual meeting place. It’s also an opportunity to meet-and-greet and reinforce relationships with underwriters. You get a lot of bang for your buck.

Michael Liebowitz
Director of Risk Management and Insurance
New York University;
Former RIMS President (2006-2007)

What are the top sessions that you are most eager to attend and why?

I will specifically be taking classes on ERM, the reason being that we are in the process of rolling out a strategic ERM initiative at NYU. So the more I can bring to the table and to my senior-management team, the more relevant I can be, and the better-prepared my organization can be now and in the future. 

What advice do you have for RIMS first-timers about maximizing their conference experience?

Pace yourself, absorb what you learn in the sessions (because you will be learning from people who have lots of experience), and don’t pass up the networking opportunities. They are enormous, whether they are in class, in the hallway or on the exhibition floor. There is always an opportunity to network, even if it is in the hotel elevator.

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