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The Profession

Amanda Lagatta

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 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

Curt Gross

This director of risk management sees cyber, IP and reputation risks as evolving threats, but more formal education may make emerging risk professionals better prepared.
By: | June 1, 2018 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

My first non-professional job was working at Burger King in high school. I learned some valuable life lessons there.

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

After taking some accounting classes in high school, I originally thought I wanted to be an accountant. After working on a few Widgets Inc. projects in college, I figured out that wasn’t what I really wanted to do. Risk management found me. The rest is history. Looking back, I am pleased with how things worked out.

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

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I think we do a nice job on post graduate education. I think the ARM and CPCU designations give credibility to the profession. Plus, formal college risk management degrees are becoming more popular these days. I know The University of Akron just launched a new risk management bachelor’s program in the fall of 2017 within the business school.

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

I think we could do a better job with streamlining certificates of insurance or, better yet, evaluating if they are even necessary. It just seems to me that there is a significant amount of time and expense around generating certificates. There has to be a more efficient way.

R&I: What was the best location and year for the RIMS conference and why?

Selfishly, I prefer a destination with a direct flight when possible. RIMS does a nice job of selecting various locations throughout the country. It is a big job to successfully pull off a conference of that size.

Curt Gross, Director of Risk Management, Parker Hannifin Corp.

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

Definitely the change in nontraditional property & casualty exposures such as intellectual property and reputational risk. Those exposures existed way back when but in different ways. As computer networks become more and more connected and news travels at a more rapid pace, it just amplifies these types of exposures. Sometimes we have to think like the perpetrator, which can be difficult to do.

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

I hate to sound cliché — it’s quite the buzz these days — but I would have to say cyber. It’s such a complex risk involving nontraditional players and motives. Definitely a challenging exposure to get your arms around. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll really know the true exposure until there is more claim development.

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

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Our captive insurance company. I’ve been fortunate to work for several companies with a captive, each one with a different operating objective. I view a captive as an essential tool for a successful risk management program.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

I can’t point to just one. I have and continue to be lucky to work for really good managers throughout my career. Each one has taken the time and interest to develop me as a professional. I certainly haven’t arrived yet and welcome feedback to continue to try to be the best I can be every day.

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

I would like to think I have and continue to bring meaningful value to my company. However, I would have to say my family is my proudest accomplishment.

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

Favorite movie is definitely “Good Will Hunting.”

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

Tough question to narrow down. If my wife ran a restaurant, it would be hers. We try to have dinner as a family as much as possible. If I had to pick one restaurant though, I would say Fire Food & Drink in Cleveland, Ohio. Chef Katz is a culinary genius.

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

The Grand Canyon. It is just so vast. A close second is Stonehenge.

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

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A few, actually. Up until a few years ago, I owned a sport bike (motorcycle). Of course, I wore the proper gear, took a safety course and read a motorcycle safety book. Also, I have taken a few laps in a NASCAR [race car] around Daytona International Speedway at 180 mph. Most recently, trying to ride my daughter’s skateboard.

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

The Dalai Lama. A world full of compassion, tolerance and patience and free of discrimination, racism and violence, while perhaps idealistic, sounds like a wonderful place to me.

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

I really enjoy the company I work for and my role, because I get the opportunity to work with various functions. For example, while mostly finance, I get to interact with legal, human resources, employee health and safety, to name a few.

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

I asked my son. He said, “Risk management and insurance.” (He’s had the benefit of bring-your-kid-to-work day.)

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