The Profession

Mike Murphy of Kennametal

This director of corporate risk management believes in the education available for risk managers, but more effort should be given to developing talent.
By: | August 29, 2018 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

I worked at our family-owned neighborhood tavern from an early age. Talk about life lessons! Outside of that, my first job was as a lifeguard at the Rogers-McFeely pool in Latrobe.

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

My predecessor worked in a nearby cube and always had interesting stories. When he retired, it sounded like something that would be fun to pursue.


R&I: What is the risk management community doing right? Where could it improve?

The risk management community does a good job of providing educational and awareness opportunities, like market updates, emerging risks, best practice sharing, etc. There are many learning and networking opportunities.

There is still room for improvement in developing talent; I see movement in that direction, but we could do a better job of communicating the opportunities in the industry.

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

Certainly technology improvements that enable risk managers to be more effective and efficient. Also, the change in image of risk managers from the stereotypical “insurance and claims guys” to business partners.

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

Cyber liability exposures in the manufacturing environment and keeping pace with change, especially with the advent of the Internet of Things.

Mike Murphy, Director, Corporate Risk Management

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

My first manager, Rob Hohn. Rob continually challenged me to drive improvements in the risk management function, which positioned me for the path forward.

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

Philadelphia. It is the easiest place to get around.

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

This is a “we” accomplishment. I am most proud of Kennametal’s first quartile TCOR per sales performance, largely driven by a 75 percent reduction in workers’ compensation costs. Kennametal has a relentless
and unwavering commitment to safety.

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

Risk management is literally dealing with something different every day. I enjoy the challenges that present themselves every day, and I enjoy the relationships with insurance carriers, brokers and fellow team members from around the globe.

R&I: How many emails do you get in a day and how many do you answer?


Too many. I get between 100 to 150 emails per day. I answer between 70 to 80.

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

Sentry Insurance. They have been a consistent, dependable long-term partner that understands Kennametal.

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

Optimistic, because of general macroeconomic conditions and changes to the tax laws. Once we get the tariff issues sorted out, it is full speed ahead.

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

My heroes are the men and women of our armed services who sacrifice every day so that we can live the lives that we do.

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

My various responsibilities at Kennametal have afforded me the opportunity to travel the world and see many interesting and beautiful places. Among my favorites are Ireland, Israel and China.

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

Walking along the Israel-Lebanon border where it converges with the Mediterranean Sea. I’m not sure if it was risky, but it felt like it.


R&I: What is your favorite movie?

Top five movies: The Godfather, Godfather II, Shawshank Redemption, The Outlaw Josey Wales, and any of the Bourne series.

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

LeVel 33 in Singapore, a microbrewery with fantastic views of the skyline.

R&I: Favorite drink?

Beer. I enjoy different microbrews, almost all of which pair well with pizza.

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

They are not sure, but they know that I like what I do. If they were forced to respond it would be “insurance stuff,” but they don’t firmly grasp all that I am responsible for as a risk manager.

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

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

2018 Risk All Stars

Stop Mitigating Risk. Start Conquering It Like These 2018 Risk All Stars

The concept of risk mastery and ownership, as displayed by the 2018 Risk All Stars, includes not simply seeking to control outcomes but taking full responsibility for them.
By: | September 14, 2018 • 3 min read

People talk a lot about how risk managers can get a seat at the table. The discussion implies that the risk manager is an outsider, striving to get the ear or the attention of an insider, the CEO or CFO.


But there are risk managers who go about things in a different way. And the 2018 Risk All Stars are prime examples of that.

These risk managers put in gear their passion, creativity and perseverance to become masters of a situation, pushing aside any notion that they are anything other than key players.

Goodyear’s Craig Melnick had only been with the global tire maker a few months when Hurricane Harvey dumped a record amount of rainfall on Houston.

Brilliant communication between Melnick and his new teammates gave him timely and valuable updates on the condition of manufacturing locations. Melnick remained in Akron, mastering the situation by moving inventory out of the storm’s path and making sure remediation crews were lined up ahead of time to give Goodyear its best leg up once the storm passed and the flood waters receded.

Goodyear’s resiliency in the face of the storm gave it credibility when it went to the insurance markets later that year for renewals. And here is where we hear a key phrase, produced by Kevin Garvey, one of Goodyear’s brokers at Aon.

“The markets always appreciate a risk manager who demonstrates ownership,” Garvey said, in what may be something of an understatement.

These risk managers put in gear their passion, creativity and perseverance to become masters of a situation, pushing aside any notion that they are anything other than key players.

Dianne Howard, a 2018 Risk All Star and the director of benefits and risk management for the Palm Beach County School District, achieved ownership of $50 million in property storm exposures for the district.

With FEMA saying it wouldn’t pay again for district storm losses it had already paid for, Howard went to the London markets and was successful in getting coverage. She also hammered out a deal in London that would partially reimburse the district if it suffered a mass shooting and needed to demolish a building, like what happened at Sandy Hook in Connecticut.

2018 Risk All Star Jim Cunningham was well-versed enough to know what traditional risk management theories would say when hospitality workers were suffering too many kitchen cuts. “Put a cut-prevention plan in place,” is the traditional wisdom.

But Cunningham, the vice president of risk management for the gaming company Pinnacle Entertainment, wasn’t satisfied with what looked to him like a Band-Aid approach.


Instead, he used predictive analytics, depending on his own team to assemble company-specific data, to determine which safety measures should be used company wide. The result? Claims frequency at the company dropped 60 percent in the first year of his program.

Alumine Bellone, a 2018 Risk All Star and the vice president of risk management for Ardent Health Services, faced an overwhelming task: Create a uniform risk management program when her hospital group grew from 14 hospitals in three states to 31 hospitals in seven.

Bellone owned the situation by visiting each facility right before the acquisition and again right after, to make sure each caregiving population was ready to integrate into a standardized risk management system.

After consolidating insurance policies, Bellone achieved $893,000 in synergies.

In each of these cases, and in more on the following pages, we see examples of risk managers who weren’t just knocking on the door; they were owning the room. &


Risk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, clarity of vision and passion.

See the complete list of 2018 Risk All Stars.

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