Risk Management

The Profession

Amanda Lagatta, Target’s director of insurance and claims, was drawn to risk management in high school and praises the value of college graduate risk management programs.
By: | October 1, 2016 • 4 min read

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R&I: What was your first job?
I did copying, filing, data entry and other clerical tasks at a local HMO while I was in high school.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?
Almost all of my jobs have been related to insurance, starting with the HMO and including work in the coordinated care/utilization review department at a hospital while I was in college. I was interested in what I learned in those jobs, so I decided to major in risk management and insurance while I was at UW-Madison. Through my classes, I realized that a career in risk would allow me to do several of the things I love — problem-solving, negotiating and building strong relationships with people.

R&I: What are the benefits of internships and college graduate training programs? Are they a good tool for attracting more young people to the field of risk management and insurance?

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I think they’re a great way to start building a network of contacts early on, and a great way to get new graduates familiar with different aspects of the industry. As recruiting tools, I think they will be important programs because they offer new graduates a foot in the door and a clear path forward, as well as hands-on training that gives you experience right off the bat.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?
Developing and improving upon analytics to help drive decisions, including predictive analytics for claims operations and platforms to help determine limits and retentions to manage volatility. There is still room for these platforms to continue to improve and evolve, but the growing commitment is great to see!

R&I: What was the best location for the RIMS conference and why?
San Diego. What is not to love about Southern California after a long Minnesota winter!

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?
I think it will be very interesting to see how the industry changes as new risks around Internet of Things and technology continue to emerge.

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

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In addition to greater use of data and analytics, I appreciate that risk management is moving beyond just traditional insurance. We are getting more comfortable with risk-taking and more creative with alternative risk transfer solutions.

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

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?
I am fortunate to have met many people I admire and respect over my years in the industry and they have taught me so much about how to be successful. Currently, I have several mentors both in the insurance community and internally at Target. It is helpful to have both as I continue to develop. Sometimes I am looking for guidance on career development or risk management-specific concerns, and other times it is great to talk through more general ideas such as how to become a better manager or team advocate.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?
I ran the Twin Cities Marathon several years ago.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?
“Love Actually.” I watch it every Christmas while making cookies.

R&I: What is your favorite drink?

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Craft beer. I like IPAs or saisons. Currently, my favorite is Insight Brewing’s Sunken City.

R&I: What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at?
That’s so hard to decide. I am currently working my way through the Eater.com list of best restaurants in the Twin Cities and try to go to restaurants on those lists everywhere I go.

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?
Iceland. It is so bizarre but also amazingly beautiful.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?
I am a very risk-averse person … maybe zip lining?

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?
I love that every day is different and that we get to learn about what is going on and support so many areas of the company. The days are full of problem-solving to help the company achieve its goals — either through helping to keep team members and guests safe, protecting profits or finding creative ways to support new business initiatives.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?
Most of the kids I know are disappointed to learn that I am not a cashier at their local Target store. Most others settle for a business job at the corporate office or “something related to insurance.”




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

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?

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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.

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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. &

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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]