2017 Risk All Stars

The 2017 Risk All Stars

Creativity, perseverance and passion distinguish the winners of the 2017 Risk All Star award.
By: | September 12, 2017 • 2 min read

Sharp Instincts

Gillian Cummings-Beck: Director, Insurance & Risk Management, Chico’s FAS Inc.

Chico’s risk manager wasn’t afraid to change important relationships.


Captives, Writ Larger

Courtney Claflin: Executive Director, captive programs, University of California

The University of California’s Courtney Claflin is putting on a clinic in captive management.


Seeking Clarity

Faith Cring: Director, Engineering, Environmental, Safety and Insurance, Growmark Inc.

Faith Cring makes sure she educates underwriters about her agricultural cooperative’s risks. She also insists on complete transparency.


The Right Connections

Michelle Bennett: Director of Risk Management, Cable One

Cable One’s Michelle Bennett is very good at forming relationships, both inside and outside of her company.


The Right Formula for Claims Closure

Kevin Moss: Director, Casualty Insurance and Risk, Michelin North America Inc.

With diligent prep work and high emotional intelligence, Kevin Moss cut Michelin’s outstanding reserves nearly in half.


Seeing Opportunity in Expansion

Steve Richards: Director Claims & Litigation, Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated

Steve Richards masterfully recalibrated Coca-Cola’s workers’ comp program when the company rapidly added 25 locations and thousands of new employees.


Risk Management in Memory Care

Frank Russo: Senior Vice President, risk and legal affairs, Silverado Senior Living

Frank Russo integrated risk management throughout his company, building a strong and collaborative risk culture.


The Ergonomic Evaluator

Joseph Mazza: Director of Risk Management and ADA Coordinator, MiraCosta College

Joseph J. Mazza has cut repetitive motion workers’ comp claims in half by training in ergonomics.


A Friend of the Business

Simon Argent: Senior Vice President, Head of Credit Risk Management, XL Catlin

XL Catlin’s Simon Argent leads a team that is giving insurance business leaders much better insight into their credit and country risks.


Persistence Pays Off

Wallace Jones: Director, Global Benefits & Insurance, Ashley Furniture Industries

Wallace Jones achieved double-digit premium reductions for Ashley Furniture by educating senior leaders and implementing changes over a four-year period.


Standing Up and Standing Out

Dan Holden: Manager, Corporate Risk & Insurance, Daimler Trucks North America

Daimler Trucks North America’s Dan Holden advocated for a disaster recovery system that is now being implemented internationally.


Unbridled Passion

Zach Finn: Director, Davey Risk Management and Insurance program, Butler University

Butler University’s Zach Finn is tackling the risk management talent shortage head-on.


Building on the Power of Appreciation

Tim Liberty: Senior Claims Consultant, Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners

Leveraging the adage “You catch more flies with honey,” Tim Liberty is giving his growing company a distinct competitive advantage.

The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

The Profession

For This Pharmaceutical Risk Director, Managing Risk Means Being Part of the Mission to Save Lives

Meet Eric Dobkin, director, insurance and risk management, for Merck & Co. Inc.
By: | September 28, 2018 • 5 min read

R&I: What was your first job?
My first job out of undergrad was as an actuarial trainee at Chubb.I was a math major in school, and I think the options for a math major coming out are either a teacher or an actuary, right? Anyway, I was really happy when the opportunity at Chubb presented itself. Fantastic company. I learned a lot there.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?
After I went back to get my MBA, I decided I wanted to work in corporate finance. When I was interviewing, one of the opportunities was with Merck. I really liked their mission, and things worked out. Given my background, they thought a good starting job would be in Merck’s risk management group. I started there, rotated through other areas within Merck finance but ultimately came back to the Insurance & Risk Management group. I guess I’m just one of those people who enjoy this type of work.


R&I: What is risk management doing right?
I think the community is doing a good job of promoting education, sharing ideas and advancing knowledge. Opportunities like this help make us all better business partners. We can take these ideas and translate them into actionable solutions to help our companies.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?
I think we have made good advancements in articulating the value proposition of investing in risk management, but much more can be done. Sometimes there is such a focus on delivering immediate value, such as cost savings, that risk management does not get appropriate attention (until something happens). We need to develop better tools that can reinforce that risk management is value-creating and good for operational efficiency, customers and shareholders.

R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?
I’d actually say there hasn’t been as much change as I would have hoped. I think the industry speaks about innovation more often than it does it. To be fair, at Merck we do have key partners that are innovators, but some in the industry are less enthusiastic to consider new approaches. I think there is a real need to find new and relevant solutions for large, complex risks.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?
Cyber risk. While it’s not emerging anymore, it’s evolving, dynamic and deserves the attention it gets. Merck was an early adopter of risk transfer solutions for cyber risk, and we continue to see insurance as an important component of the overall cyber risk management framework. From my perspective, this risk, more than any other, demands continuous forward-thinking to ensure we evolve solutions.

R&I: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
Sticking with the cyber theme, I’d say navigating through a cyber incident is right up there. In June 2017, Merck experienced a network cyber attack that led to a disruption of its worldwide operations, including manufacturing, research and sales. It was a very challenging environment. And managing the insurance claim that resulted has been extremely complex. But at the same time, I have learned a tremendous amount in terms of how to think about the risk, enterprise resiliency and how to manage through a cyber incident.

R&I: What advice might you give to students or other aspiring risk managers?
Have strong intellectual curiosity. Always be willing to listen and learn. Ask “why?” We deal with a lot of ambiguity in our business, and the more you seek to understand, the better you will be able to apply those learnings toward developing solutions that meet the evolving risk landscape and needs of the business.


R&I: What role does technology play in your company’s approach to risk management?
We’re continuing to look for ways to apply technology. For example, being able to extract and leverage data that resides in our systems to evaluate risk, drive efficiencies and make things like property-value reporting easier. We’re also looking to utilize data visualization tools to help gain insights into our risks.

R&I: What are your goals for the next five to 10 years of your career?
I think, at this time, I would like to continue to learn and grow in the type of work I do and broaden my scope of responsibilities. There are many opportunities to deliver value. I want to continue to focus on becoming a stronger business partner and help enable growth.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?
I’d say right now Star Wars is top on my list. It has been magical re-watching and re-living the series I watched as a kid through the eyes of my children.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in? When I was about 15, I went to a New York Rangers versus Philadelphia Flyers game at the Philadelphia Spectrum. I wore my Rangers jersey. I would not do that again.

Eric Dobkin, director, insurance & risk management, Merck & Co. Inc

R&I: What is it about this work you find most fulfilling or rewarding?
I am passionate about Merck’s mission of saving and improving lives. “Inventing for Life” is Merck’s tagline. It’s funny, but most people don’t associate “inventing” with medicine. But Merck has been inventing medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases for a long time. It’s amazing to think the products we make can help people fight terrible diseases like cancer. Whatever little bit I can do to help advance that mission is very fulfilling and rewarding.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?
Ha! My kids think I make medicine. I guess they think that because I work for Merck. I suppose if even in a small way I can contribute to Merck’s mission of saving and improving lives, I am good with that. &

Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]