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Risk Management

The Profession

Jacques Arragon on earning management’s trust, focusing on education, and Roger Moore as the best James Bond.
By: | August 4, 2014 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

I interned at Guy Carpenter in New York City, which was a memorable learning experience. After graduating from Temple, I was hired as a risk analyst in Ford Motor Co.’s global risk management department.

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

My majors were Risk Management & Insurance and Finance. I became very focused on the risk side at Temple, which produced my first job opportunity in that field.

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Jacques Arragon, vice president, risk management, Penn National Gaming, Inc.

R&I: Did you come to the U.S. solely to attend Temple? What attracted you to the school?

I came to the U.S. to finish my undergraduate degree at Temple… . Temple at the time was No. 1 or 2 in the country for the risk management & insurance major, which was the main reason for choosing it. My American Business School in France (CEFAM) partnered with various colleges in the U.S., including Temple.

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

The focus on risk management education is tremendous — which is critical for our industry’s succession planning. … Many insurers are realizing that their workforce is aging and succession planning is critical to remain competitive in business. As such, many companies are hiring college graduates and teaching them underwriting, broking, risk management, etc. … RIMS and other risk management foundations provide more and more opportunities for current college students to find internships.

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

The gradually evolving role and increased visibility of the risk management function. Risk management morphed from just being perceived as an insurance purchase function to a valued business function.

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

Cyber risk is most definitely in the forefront today due to the increased reliance on technology for many business functions.

R&I: Are you optimistic about the U.S. economy or pessimistic and why?
The U.S. economy has been slowly improving; however, I believe that we are in a new normal. Confidence levels are nowhere near the levels of a few years ago. Hopefully, business and political leaders have learned from their past errors in judgment.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

The most influential individual in my career was Dan Sobscynski, my first boss out of college at Ford Motor Co. He was extremely focused on risk management/insurance education and excellence, and believed risk managers can make a difference. The most important takeaways were to always set high level of expectations for yourself and your insurance partners, and as risk managers, always know more than your brokers! He unfortunately passed away in 2010.

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

Personally, marrying my soul mate and raising (continuous process) two daughters. Professionally, successfully bringing risk management awareness at all levels at Penn and earning management’s trust.

R6-14p42_Profession.inddR&I: How were you able to get management’s attention?

It was result-based. We experience many claims of various natures in our industry and our experience has been very positive with our insurance partners.  However, even when we faced adversity, we were ultimately successful in achieving our goals. It is my belief that trust is a byproduct of positive outcomes of real-life risk challenges.

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R&I: How many e-mails do you get in a day?

Too many! Between 70 and 80.

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

The best restaurant for its atmosphere and eclectic menu was Pomegranates in London — it unfortunately closed a few years ago.

R&I: What is your favorite drink?

Sparkling water (I know — very boring).

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

I loved Rome for its endless history.

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

Zip lining in Costa Rica in June!

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

Any James Bond movie!

R&I: Who is the best James Bond?

Roger Moore would be my favorite.

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

Knowing that I have an impact on preventing employees and guests from injury as well as protecting the company when unfortunate circumstances occur.

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

They are still not sure.

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

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It would be unfair to pinpoint just one. I have a few insurers around the globe with which I enjoy true partnerships whereas they are committed to long-term relationships, spend time understanding my risks, and are there when I need them the most and treat me fairly.

R&I: How much business do you do direct versus going through a broker?

All my placements are through brokers however … I am constantly in direct communication with my major insurance partners.

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

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Black Swans

Black Swans: Yes, It Can Happen Here

In this year's Black Swan coverage, we focus on two events: An Atlantic mega-tsunami which would wipe out the East Coast and a killer global pandemic.
By: | July 30, 2018 • 2 min read

One of the most difficult phrases to digest without becoming frustrated or judgmental is the oft-repeated, “I never thought that could happen here.”

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Most painfully, we hear it time and time again in the aftermath of the mass school shootings that terrorize this country. Shocked parents and neighbors, viewing the carnage, voice that they can’t believe this happened in their neighborhood.

Not to be mean, but why couldn’t it happen in your neighborhood?

So it is with Black Swans, a phrase describing unforeseen events, made famous by the former trader and acerbic critic of academia Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

We at Risk & Insurance® define these events in insurance terms by saying that they are highly infrequent, yet could cause massive damages. This year, for our annual Black Swan issue, we present two very different scenarios, both of which would leave mass devastation in their wake.

A Mega-Tsunami Is Coming; Can the East Coast Even Prepare?, written by staff writer Autumn Heisler, profiles an Atlantic mega-tsunami, which would wipe out lives and commerce along the East Coast.

On the topic of whether the volcanic island of La Palma, the most northwestern of the Canary Islands, could erupt, split and trigger an Atlantic mega-tsunami, scientists are divided.

Researchers Steven Ward, a geophysicist at UC Santa Cruz, and Simon Day of University College London, say such a thing could happen. Other scientists say Day and Ward are dead wrong; it’s an impossibility.

One of the counter-arguments is backed up by the statement that there has never been an Atlantic mega-tsunami. It’s never happened before and thus, could never happen here. See exhibit “A” above, re: mass school shootings.

Viral Fear: How a Global Pandemic Kills an Economy, written by associate editor Katie Dwyer, depicts a killer global pandemic the likes of which hasn’t been seen in a century.

Tens of millions of people died during the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918.

Why it could happen again includes the fact that it’s happened before. The science on influenzas, which are constantly mutating, also supports just how dangerous a threat they pose to millions of people beyond the reach of antibiotics.

Should a mutating avian flu, for example, spread widely, we could see a 10 percent drop in GDP, mostly from non-physical business interruption.

As always here, the purpose is to do exactly what insurance modelers and underwriters do; no matter how massive the event, we create scenarios, quantify possible losses and discuss risk mitigation strategies. &

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