The Profession

Mary Anne Hilliard

Mary Anne Hilliard has served in several risk management and safety positions with Children’s National, and says keeping kids safe and healthy is a fulfilling reward.
By: | November 2, 2016 • 4 min read

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R&I What was your first job?

I got my first real job at the age of 14 working for Burger King in Coral Springs, Fla. Coming out of college, I was a registered nurse here at Children’s National in the adolescent unit.

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

I wanted to build on my nursing career. I was thinking of being a nurse practitioner but my roommate was studying for the bar, and I thought that would be an interesting combination, so I ended up going to law school. When I graduated, I worked at a law firm in Washington DC, Jackson and Campbell, PC, where I practiced health law with a concentration on malpractice defense litigation. Children’s National, one of our clients, recruited me back in-house.

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

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We’ve focused our risk management approach on building trust by doing the right thing.  Two important examples include our approach to disclosure and our focus on prevention as the best way to manage risk.  Many times that means focusing our safety efforts on the prevention of negligence-based injury.

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

Risk managers need to make sure they are keeping up with needs as they relate to new business models and new payment models in health care. As we make the shift from volume-based to value-based care, risk managers will need to refocus and make sure they’re appropriately managing new risks. … For example, the current incentives are modeled to keep people well so they don’t get admitted to the hospital, but what if someone needs to be admitted, and we’re too slow to do it because we’re trying to reduce readmissions? We can help health care providers change their business model without having to learn the hard way.

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

Doing the right thing. That will always be the hardest part about working in risk. The phone rings when something has gone wrong. I joke with my team that being in risk management is like working in a kitchen: It’s always hot!  That’s why we risk managers have to stick together and share strategies for success.

R&I What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?

In health care, it’s the consolidation in the marketplace and the shift to value-based care and consumerism. As it relates to traditional malpractice exposure, the biggest risk is probably IT-related risks and cyber exposure.

R&I Are you optimistic about the U.S. economy or pessimistic and why?

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I’m optimistic because America is a great country with a solid foundation around individual rights and freedom. Sometimes the press and politics can cause us to lose sight of that. But we still lead the way in many domains.

R&I Who is your mentor and why?

Dominic Colaizzo from Aon, because he taught me that the best way to manage risk is to do the right thing — especially after you’ve done the wrong thing. After you’ve done a great job with prevention, then you focus on buying insurance from a company that you trust.

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

The team at Children’s National was able to reduce our rate of serious safety events by greater than 80 percent. And we’ve sustained that for nearly a decade.

R&I How many emails do you get in a day?

I get about 200. I answer 150, and spend too many weekends catching up!

R&I What is your favorite book or movie?

I recently enjoyed “Positive Intelligence” by Shirzad Chamine. It’s a great read for everyone looking for life balance and for risk managers looking for strategies to stay cool in the kitchen!

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

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I love this little Italian place called Pulcinella that’s right in my neighborhood. They know my family by name and they have great pizza.

R&I What is your favorite drink?

Beer. Sam Adams.

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

I just came back from Donegal, Ireland, where I visited some old Irish relatives. I saw the site where my grandfather’s house had been. My kids were with me, and it was an amazing experience.

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

Running with headphones. I’ve had some close calls with that. But it’s a risk worth taking because it keeps me physically and mentally healthy.

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

The rewarding part of working in pediatric health care is being part of a team that takes care of kids.

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

They’re not really sure. They know I work in a hospital and that I get a lot of calls at weird times, and that I love what I do. &




Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She 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.

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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.

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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]