2015 Risk All Star: Jennifer Cable

Composing the Grand Opera

Consider a set of operating criteria: indirect management of operations in a high-capital industry involving multiple sites and heavy equipment; heavy government regulation of that industry, complete with high insurance mandates, permitting, and bonding; high participation of capable but under-capitalized subcontractors.


Jennifer Cable, Claims Manager, Balfour Beatty Construction

And just for good measure, throw over the top an acquisition that results in a mandate to consolidate insurance programs for cost savings and better risk measurement and management.

It might seem like a particularly nasty exercise cooked up by a risk management professor to test the creativity and determination of students. But in reality it was just another day at the office for Jennifer Cable.

Balfour Beatty Construction is a worldwide contractor building high-rise apartments, schools, prisons, hospitals and military housing. The actual construction, and sometimes demolition beforehand, is done by local subcontractors. Given the municipal and federal projects, a considerable percentage of the subcontractors are small, local operators, often women- or minority-owned, as per government incentives.


“The insurance needs of government work require subcontractors to carry hefty insurance,” said Cable. “Many can’t afford that, especially the minority firms. So we developed a contractor-controlled insurance program. Under that, we don’t include the cost of insurance in the bidding. We carry all the risk in a master program.”

Cable has long experience in risk management, but her degree is in opera performance. Aptitude in music and math often go together and indeed, Cable used to tutor statistics and probability. That led her to database creation.

“I always want strong players on my team, and I try to identify those in advance.” — Jennifer Cable, Claims Manager, Balfour Beatty Construction

When Cable started at the company eight years ago, there were four different groups, each running its own insurance program. When the company was acquired by its current owner, based in the U.K., she was asked to consolidate.

“I had to evaluate all four divisions and their programs,” Cable recalled, “plus what I inherited from my predecessor, and then review federal, state, and local safety and insurance requirements. That whole process took about six months.”

Even as Cable was trying to formalize, standardize and optimize, she knew that the industry was constantly in flux. “With construction, things move around, literally.

Equipment, staff, job sites and clients all shift. Then we are growing and expanding, entering new markets, new states with new regulations. There is retraining, even as regulations are changed.”

One essential step was to create allies in the field, so Cable introduced herself and the program personally. The divisions and their operating staffs were used to working autonomously, and even though the mandate from the new owners was to consolidate, Cable said it was important to present herself as a resource, not someone taking anything away.

The program is mostly in place, but integration continues as the company expands into new states, and as new subcontractors are brought in.


“Just last year we had several acquisitions on the West Coast, which was our biggest ever,” said Cable. By reputation, California might have seemed like it would be the complicated market, but Cable added, “Washington State was the big challenge.

The operations there went from self-funded to state-funded, then retroactively into a risk pool. We are still working on that.”

Again Cable was able to make allies. “We built a relationship with an outside law firm. I always want strong players on my team, and I try to identify those in advance. I am willing to spend a little more on the front end of a project or transaction rather than deal with some catastrophe at the other end.”


R9-15-15p26_Intro_Allstar4-2.inddRisk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, perseverance and/or passion.

See the complete list of 2015 Risk All Stars.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

2017 Risk All Stars

Immeasurable Value

The 2017 Risk All Stars strengthened their organizations by taking ownership of improved risk management processes and not quitting until they were in place.
By: | September 12, 2017 • 3 min read

Being the only person to hold a particular opinion or point of view within an organization cannot be easy. Do the following sound like familiar stories? Can you picture yourself or one of your risk management colleagues as the hero or heroine? Or better yet, as a Risk & Insurance® Risk All Star?


One risk manager took a job with a company that was being spun off, and the risk management program, which was built for a much larger company, was not a good fit for the spun-off company.
Rather than sink into inertia, this risk manager took the bull by the horns and began an aggressive company intranet campaign to instill better safety and other risk management practices throughout the organization.

The risk manager, 2017 Risk All Star Michelle Bennett of Cable One, also changed some long-standing brokerage relationships that weren’t a good fit for the risk management and insurance program. In her first year on the job she produced premium savings and in her second year is in the process of introducing ERM company-wide.

Or perhaps this one rings a bell. The news is trickling out that a company is poised to dramatically expand, increasing the workforce three- or four-fold. Having this knowledge with certainty would be a great benefit to a risk manager, who could begin girding safety, workers’ comp and related programs accordingly. But things sometimes don’t work that way, do they? Sometimes the risk manager is one of the last people to know.

The Risk All Star Award recognizes at its core, creativity, perseverance and passion. The 13 winners of this year’s award all displayed those traits in abundance.

In the case of 2017 Risk All Star winner Steve Richards of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company, the news of an expansion spurred him to action. He completely overhauled the company’s workers’ compensation program and streamlined its claim management system. The results, even with a much higher headcount, were reduced legal costs, better return-to-work experiences for injured workers and a host of other improvements and savings.

The Risk All Star Award recognizes at its core, creativity, perseverance and passion. The 13 winners of this year’s award all displayed those traits in abundance. Sometimes it took years for a particular risk solution, as promoted by a risk manager, to find acceptance.

In other cases a risk manager got so excited about a solution, they never even considered getting turned down. They just kept pushing until they carried the day.


Butler University’s Zach Finn became obsessive about what he felt was a lackluster effort on the part of the insurance industry to bring in new talent. The former risk manager for the J.M. Smucker Co. settled on the creation of a student-run captive to give his risk management students the experience they would need to get hired right out of college.

The result was a better risk management program for the university’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and immediate traction in the job market for Finn’s students.

A few of our Risk All Stars told us that the results they are achieving were decades in the making. Only by year-in, year-out dedication to gaining transparency about her co-op’s risks and learning more and more about her various insurance carriers, did Growmark Inc.’s Faith Cring create a stalwart risk management and insurance program that is the envy of the agricultural sector. Now she’s been with some of her insurance carriers more than 20 years — some more than 30 years.

Having the right idea and not having a home for it can be a lonely, frustrating experience. Having the creativity, the passion and perhaps, most importantly, the perseverance to see it through and get great results makes you a Risk All Star. &


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

See the complete list of 2017 Risk All Stars.

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]