2016 Risk All Star: Susan Hiteshew

A Winning Strategy

As a fast-growing company, Under Armour Inc. naturally has to keep on top of any number of potential exposures that could pop up — and Susan Hiteshew helps her firm do just that with her New Business Venture Global Insurance & Risk Management playbook.

Susan Hiteshew, senior manager, global insurance and risk financing, Under Armour Inc.

Susan Hiteshew, senior manager, global insurance and risk financing, Under Armour Inc.

“In a young company that grows as quickly as we do, you can’t wait for things to happen — you have to be proactive,” said Hiteshew, who came on board in 2011 as the company’s first traditional risk manager.

Founded in 1996 as a fitness apparel retailer, Under Armour has logged 20 percent-plus quarterly revenue growth for years, as it extends its global reach and product base to include more fitness technology solutions.

In 2014, the company made its first acquisition, the fitness-tracking application MapMyFitness. As the firm began to integrate the new purchase, Hiteshew shrewdly realized that the organization needed a playbook to learn how her team could integrate and add value.

“When we built the playbook, we tried to think about our internal stakeholders — what is important to them — and how the work we do can help them get to the goal line faster and smarter,” she said. “But one of the biggest challenges of risk management is getting a seat at the table at the right time, and so instead of risk management chasing down information, we found a way to facilitate the flow of information to us.”

The playbook details exactly how Hiteshew’s team could add value to any new project, and how the team should be looped into any project at the onset, so that risk management could help to “reduce the likelihood of surprises in their businesses operations.”

“In a young company that grows as quickly as we do, you can’t wait for things to happen — you have to be proactive.” — Susan Hiteshew, senior manager, global insurance and risk financing, Under Armour Inc.

In drafting the playbook, Hiteshew’s team conducted extensive research, pulling themes from certain underwriting applications, timelines that are important to the organization, and key strategic areas of focus.

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The team then asked its broker team at Aon, led by Charlie Skinner in Baltimore, to review and add input to the playbook before the materials began to be distributed internally in 2015. Since then, the playbook continues to be upgraded as the company grows.

The playbook has been particularly helpful in dealing with challenges created by fast growth, including coordinating communication between multiple facilities, Hiteshew said.

“We’re now decentralized between Baltimore, our European headquarters in Amsterdam, our team in Shanghai and Guangzhou, and our Latin American headquarters in Panama,” she said. “This document has helped us concisely communicate our involvement.”

Jonathan Schwartz, the firm’s vice president of global risk management, said Hiteshew excels at strategic thinking and communications.

“At Under Armour, change is constant, and playing catch-up with the business is a losing proposition,” Schwartz said. “Susan has kept insurance and risk management proactive and strategic by effectively keeping pace with UA’s growth and change.” &

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AllStars2016v1oRisk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, perseverance and passion.

See the complete list of 2016 Risk All Stars.

More from Risk & Insurance

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Risk Management

The Profession

After 20 years in the business, Navy Pier’s Director of Risk Management values her relationships in the industry more than ever.
By: | June 1, 2017 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

Working at Dominick’s Finer Foods bagging groceries. Shortly after I was hired, I was promoted to [cashier] and then to a management position. It taught me great responsibility and it helped me develop the leadership skills I still carry today.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?

While working for Hyatt Regency McCormick Place Hotel, one of my responsibilities was to oversee the administration of claims. This led to a business relationship with the director of risk management of the organization who actually owned the property. Ultimately, a position became available in her department and the rest is history.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?

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The risk management community is doing a phenomenal job in professional development and creating great opportunities for risk managers to network. The development of relationships in this industry is vitally important and by providing opportunities for risk managers to come together and speak about their experiences and challenges is what enables many of us to be able to do our jobs even more effectively.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

Attracting, educating and retaining young talent. There is this preconceived notion that the insurance industry and risk management are boring and there could be nothing further from the truth.

R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?

In my 20 years in the industry, the biggest change in risk management and the insurance industry are the various types of risk we look to insure against. Many risks that exist today were not even on our radar 20 years ago.

Gina Kirchner, director of risk management, Navy Pier Inc.

R&I: What insurance carrier do you have the highest opinion of?

FM Global. They have been our property carrier for a great number of years and in my opinion are the best in the business.

R&I: Are you optimistic about the US economy or pessimistic and why?

I am optimistic that policies will be put in place with the new administration that will be good for the economy and business.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?

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The commercial risks that are of most concern to me are cyber risks, business interruption, and any form of a health epidemic on a global scale. We are dealing with new exposures and new risks that we are truly not ready for.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

My mother has played a significant role in shaping my ideals and values. She truly instilled a very strong work ethic in me. However, there are many men and women in business who have mentored me and have had a significant impact on me and my career as well.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

I am most proud of making the decision a couple of years ago to return to school and obtain my [MBA]. It took a lot of prayer, dedication and determination to accomplish this while still working a full time job, being involved in my church, studying abroad and maintaining a household.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

“Heaven Is For Real” by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent. I loved the book and the movie.

R&I: What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at?

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A French restaurant in Paris, France named Les Noces de Jeannette Restaurant à Paris. It was the most amazing food and brings back such great memories.

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?

Israel. My husband and I just returned a few days ago and spent time in Jerusalem, Nazareth, Jericho and Jordan. It was an absolutely amazing experience. We did everything from riding camels to taking boat rides on the Sea of Galilee to attending concerts sitting on the Temple steps. The trip was absolutely life changing.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

Many, many years ago … I went parasailing in the Caribbean. I had a great experience and didn’t think about the risk at the time because I was young, single and free. Looking back, I don’t know that I would make the same decision today.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

I would have to say the relationships and partnerships I have developed with insurance carriers, brokers and other professionals in the industry. To have wonderful working relationships with such a vast array of talented individuals who are so knowledgeable and to have some of those relationships develop into true friendships is very rewarding.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?

My friends and family have a general idea that my position involves claims and insurance. However, I don’t think they fully understand the magnitude of my responsibilities and the direct impact it has on my organization, which experiences more than 9 million visitors a year.




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