Risk Insider: Jack Hampton

Millennial Optimism

By: | June 27, 2017 • 3 min read
John (Jack) Hampton is a Professor of Business at St. Peter’s University and a former Executive Director of the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS). His recent book deals with risk management in higher education: "Culture, Intricacies, and Obsessions in Higher Education — Why Colleges and Universities are Struggling to Deliver the Goods." His website is www.jackhampton.com.

If you are between the ages of 13 and 35, you are a “millennial.” Don’t be embarrassed to admit it.

Sure, they say you don’t know anything about politics or money and you don’t read newspapers. You’re lazy, even as you think you’re smarter than everyone else. The United States is losing its edge and you are the cause.

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Dominik and Jan respectfully beg to differ with this description of their generation.

Dominik just graduated from high school with plans to take a “gap year” before starting a college program in computer engineering.

For him, high school was not all that interesting. The subjects taught in traditional classrooms prepared him for standardized exams but he does not really understand why that was important. He basically taught himself, helped by a few friends, to learn about things that he really wanted to know.

Take, for example, cryptocurrencies. At age 17, he’s not entirely sure that the bitcoin is the way to go. Using his smart phone, he will show you the code to open his digital wallet, but only briefly, explaining that he will not allow someone enough time to memorize it. Good risk management.

Knowing the technical skills their generation brings to the table have largely developed as a result of their own energy, Dominik and Jan are participating in or even leading a revolution.

I saw the code. It is something like 2BF46KW3EM539QZG46NX93. I do not remember it exactly.

Dominik got no help from his teachers when he started building a half-finished phone “app” to calculate the statistics of a baseball game as events occur. When the game finishes, the app will provide a complete picture of who did what and when and how often.

Jan, his older brother, is a sophomore in college. Also interested in computer engineering, he reports getting little help from professors. “I learn this stuff from the other kids.” By his estimate, Asian, Indian, and other foreign students make up about 60 percent of the student body. Jan fits right in with them.

Jan wants practical experience. He is spending the summer writing software for his father’s high-tech manufacturing firm. The company employs industrial robots, some of the two million of them in the United States. Jan is customizing his father’s robots to fit local needs. Doing so will improve efficiency, lower costs, and eliminate jobs.

Do either of these young millennials worry about what they are missing from the past? Not really.

They never typed or mailed letters, pursued jobs from classified newspaper ads, or bought music at Tower Records.

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They ignore the criticism that they don’t read books but do send text messages while teachers drone on in large lecture halls.

Are they concerned about allegations that their generation will cause the demise of American civilization as we know it? They don’t care.

Knowing the technical skills their generation brings to the table have largely developed as a result of their own energy, Dominik and Jan are participating in or even leading a revolution.

Their outcomes are not guaranteed. We can only hope Dominik does not get into trouble using his bitcoins for money laundering and Jan’s programming does not create robots that eliminate his own job.

Go for it guys!

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

In the Fast-Paced World of Retail, This Risk Manager Strives to Mitigate Risks Proactively and Keep Senior Leaders Informed

Janine Kral works to identify and mitigate risks, building strong partnerships with leaders and ensuring they see her as support rather than a blocker. 
By: | October 29, 2018 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

My very first paid job was working on my uncle’s ranch in British Columbia in the summers. He had cattle, horses and grapes — an unusual combo. But my first real job out of college was as a multi-line claims adjuster at Liberty Mutual.

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

Right out of college I applied for a job that turned out to be a claims adjuster at Liberty Mutual. I accepted because they were offering six weeks of training in Southern California, and at the time that sounded really fun. I spent about three years at Liberty Mutual and then I spent a short period of time at a smaller regional insurance company that hired me to start a workers’ compensation claims administration program.

I was hired at Nordstrom as the Washington Region Risk Manager, which was my first job in risk management. When I started at Nordstrom, the risk management department had about five people, and over the years it has grown to about 75. I’ve been vice president for 11 years.

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

I would say that technology has probably been the biggest change. When I started many years ago, it was all paper and no RMIS.

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R&I: What risks does the retail industry face that are unique?

We deal with a lot of people — employees and customers. With physical brick and mortar settings, there are the unique exposures with people moving in and out in a public environment. And of course, with ecommerce, we have a lot of customer and employee data, which creates cyber risk — which is not necessarily a unique risk in today’s environment.

R&I: Can you describe your approach to working with senior leaders and front-line staff alike to further risk management initiatives?

It starts with keeping the pulse of what’s happening with the business. Retail moves really fast. In order to identify and mitigate risks proactively, we identify top risk areas and topics, and then we ensure that we have strong partnerships with the leaders responsible for those areas. Trust is critical, ensuring that leaders see us as a support rather than a blocker.

R&I: What role does technology play in your company’s approach to risk management?

Janine Kral, claims adjuster, Nordstrom

We have an internal risk management information system that all of our locations report events into — every type of incident is reported, whether insured or uninsured. Most of these events are managed internally by risk management, and our guidelines require that prevention be analyzed on each one. Having all event data in one system allows us to use the data for trending and also helps us better predict what may happen in the future, and who we need to work with to mitigate risks.

R&I: What advice might you give to students or other aspiring risk managers?

My son is a sophomore in college, and I tell him and his friends all the time not to rule out insurance as a career opportunity. My advice is to cast a wide net and do your homework. Research all the different types of opportunities. Read a lot — articles, industry magazines, LinkedIn. Be proactive and reach out to people you find interesting and ask them about their careers. Don’t be shy and wait for people and opportunities to come to you. Ask questions. Build networks. Be curious and keep an open mind.

R&I: What are your goals for the next five to 10 years of your career?

I have always been passionate about continuous improvement. I want to continue to find ways to add value to my company and to this industry.

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

My favorite book is Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. It’s a true story about a man who was in prison in Australia after being convicted of armed robbery, and he escaped to India. While in India, he passed himself off as a doctor in a slum. It’s a really interesting story, because this is a convicted criminal who ends up helping others. I am not always successful in getting others to read the book because it’s 1,000 pages and definitely a commitment.

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

Fiorella’s in Newton, Massachusetts. Great Italian food and a great overall experience.

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R&I: What is your favorite drink?

“Sister Carol.” I have no idea what is in it, and I can only get it at a local bar in Seattle. It’s green but it’s delicious.

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

Skydiving. Not tandem and without any sort of communication from the ground. Scary standing on a wing of a plane, but very peaceful once the chute opened, slowly floating down by myself.

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

I can’t think of one individual person. For me, the real heroes are people who have a positive attitude in the face of adversity. People who are resilient no matter what life brings them.

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

It’s rewarding to help solve problems and help people. I am proud of the support that my team provides others. &




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