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2018 RIMS

RIMS Rocks San Antonio

Sexual harassment and the threats and opportunities in artificial intelligence will be on this year's RIMS agenda.
By: | March 5, 2018 • 6 min read

Everything is bigger in Texas, including the annual RIMS conference and exhibition taking place in San Antonio at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center from April 15 to 18.  The theme for this year’s show – “Go Big” – encourages risk managers to think outside the box, expand their relationships and strive to make a bigger impact in their companies and communities.

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“It’s a call to action,” said Stuart Ruff-Lyon, vice president of events and education, RIMS. “How can you as a risk manager ‘go big’ in your organization and in your life? Our programming and design is meant to make attendees think about how they can make the most of this opportunity and apply what they learn to make a real difference.”

This year, the conference will provide attendees with a “journey journal” so they can take notes throughout sessions and meetings on how to apply takeaways to better themselves professionally and personally. They’ll have a lot to think about as the conference this year is focusing on topical issues like diversity and inclusion, sexual harassment, and disaster recovery and resiliency.

Diverse and Inclusive

“We’re starting to look at diversity and inclusion issues a lot more than we have in the past. I take these ideas very seriously as part of the overall experience we want to provide. Data tells us, and we can see for ourselves, how important diversity and inclusion are to our next generation of risk leaders,” Ruff-Lyon said.

Sunday afternoon will see the first ever “diversity inclusion meetup,” where participants can join small breakout groups and have discussions led by a professional facilitator around issues in diversity.

“It’s going to be a safe space for people to discuss sensitive issues and for allies who want more information,” Ruff-Lyon said. “We’ll see what comes out of the discussion and hopefully produce additional content or get new ideas on how we do things at the conference. We’re trying to chart a new course for RIMS, so we can be more diverse and inclusive.”

The selection of keynote speakers underscores a dedication to diversity in age, race and gender.

Opening speaker Alex Sheen, a millennial, reaches across generations with a message of honoring commitments. Sheen is the founder of “because I said I would,” a nonprofit that seeks to better humanity through making and keeping promises.

Stuart Ruff-Lyon, vice president of events and education, RIMS

“That’s a very powerful message that ties back into our goal to encourage risk professionals to follow through on what they learn here at the conference and apply it back home,” Ruff-Lyon said.

Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour, the nation’s first African-American female fighter pilot, will speak at Monday afternoon’s awards luncheon about how to overcome internal obstacles and mental blocks to achieve greatness and exceed expectations.

“And Jay Leno is for laughs,” Ruff-Lyon said, speaking about the conference’s closing speaker. “It helps to lighten things up and finish on a high note when you’ve had an exhausting four days.”

And while keynote speeches are aimed at high-level messaging and motivation, this year’s educational sessions take deeper dives into the issues facing risk managers today.

Targeting Topical Issues

“We spent more time developing ‘hot topic’ ideas this year, trying to keep them topical and relevant. We have a session on sexual harassment in the workplace, for example. If you’re a risk manager that works for a company that faces a scandal, what do you do? This is a big issue facing every industry,” Ruff-Lyon said.

Some claims management sessions will also focus on the fallout from Harvey, Irma and Maria, and how organizations can proactively align resources to shorten recovery time and keep claims moving post-disaster.

“We’re still continuing to educate risk professionals about the impact of drones, driverless cars, etc. Artificial intelligence and robotics have been added to the lineup as well as they become more and more disruptive,” Ruff-Lyon said. “We always try to make sure that at least 30 percent of what people are seeing and experiencing is new to keep it interesting and different and fresh.”

RIMS relies on attendee feedback to inform session selection, as well as an independent scoring committee comprised of senior-level risk professionals from various industries. The committee reviews session proposals blind, with no knowledge of who submitted them or who the speakers will be. In addition to content quality, they focus on uniqueness.

Ruff-Lyon said the goal is to mix in new topics — or new angles on old topics — to spur creative thinking and provide a more well-rounded educational experience. In line with that goal, conference organizers this year added a new experience dubbed the “Innovation Hub.”

“I don’t think people are aware of all we do to protect attendees, but I think it will provide peace of mind to know that we are taking extra precautions.”— Stuart Ruff-Lyon, vice president of events and education, RIMS

“The Innovation Hub will feature 20-minute TED-style talks on different topics. Monday will focus on emerging risks, Tuesday will focus on claims management and Wednesday’s topic is cyber risk,” Ruff-Lyon said.

RIMS also revamped the experience for attendees visiting the exhibit hall. Now dubbed “RIMS HQ,” the area has doubled in size and comprises the Wellness Zenter, Thought Leader Theater, a publication stand, an opportunity to get a complimentary professional headshot, on-hand consultants ready to analyze résumés or LinkedIn profiles, and a quiet lounge reserved for members.

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Oh, and puppies for stress relief.

“We’ve redesigned the entire experience inside the exhibit hall,” Ruff-Lyon said.

Safety and security will also be stepped up this year — one part of the experience that should be imperceptible to attendees.

“We are adding a lot of increased security measures around the event. We always have a police presence as well as plain-clothes officers, but in the past two years we’ve had bomb-sniffing dogs on our loading docks, and this year we added random wand and bag searches,” Ruff-Lyon said.

“I don’t think people are aware of all we do to protect attendees, but I think it will provide peace of mind to know that we are taking extra precautions.”

Things to Do

But not everything is new. Community service projects will take place throughout the show for those able to participate. One on-site opportunity includes assembling care packages for soldiers, veterans and their families, benefitting the charity Soldiers’ Angels.

The anticipated 10,000 to 11,000 attendees and exhibitors also have plenty to explore around San Antonio.

“It’s very walkable, very friendly,” Ruff-Lyon said. In addition to the iconic River Walk, the city also boasts scenic walking trails, a vibrant food scene, canal tours and the historic San Antonio Missions. &

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

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Risk Management

The Profession

The risk manager for Boyd Gaming Corp. says curiosity keeps him engaged, and continual education will be the key to managing emerging risks.
By: | May 1, 2018 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

I was trained as an accountant, worked in public accounting and became a CPA. Being comfortable with numbers is helpful in my current role, and obviously, the language of business is financial statements, so it helps.

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

Working in finance in the corporate environment included the review of budgets and the analysis of business expenses. I quickly found the area of benefits and insurance — and how “accepting risk” impacted those expenses — to be fascinating. I asked a lot of questions. Be careful what you ask for — I soon found myself responsible for those insurance areas and haven’t looked back!

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

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I have found the risk management community to be a close-knit group, whether that’s industry professionals, risk managers with other companies or support organizations like RIMS and other regional groups. The expertise of the carriers and specialty vendors to develop new products and programs, along with the appropriate education, will continue to be of key importance to companies going forward.

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

As I’m sure many in the insurance field would agree, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 changed our world and our industry. It was a particularly intense time and certainly a baptism by fire for people like me who were relatively new to the industry. This event clearly accelerated the switch to the acceptance of more risk, which impacted mitigation strategies and programs.

Bob Berglund, vice president, benefits and insurance, Boyd Gaming Corp.

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

The fast-paced threat that cyber security represents today. Our company, like so many companies, is reliant upon computers, software and IT expertise in our everyday existence. This new risk has forged an even stronger relationship between risk management and our IT department as we work together to address this growing threat.

Additionally, the shooting event in Las Vegas in 2017 will have an enduring impact on firms that host large gatherings and arena-style events all over the world, and our company is no exception.

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

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With the various types of insurance programs we employ, I have been fortunate to work with most of the large national and international carriers — all of whom employ talented people with a vast array of resources.

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

We use brokers for many of our professional coverages, such as property, casualty, D&O and cyber. We are self-insured under our health plans, with close to 25,000 members. We tend to manage those programs internally and utilize direct relationships with carriers and specialty vendors to tailor a plan that works best for team members.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

I have been fortunate to have worked alongside some smart and insightful people during my career. A key piece of advice, said in many different ways, has served me well. Simply stated: “Seek to understand before being understood.”

What this has meant to me is try everything you can to learn about something, new or old. After you have gained this knowledge, you can begin to access and maybe suggest changes or adjustments. Being curious has always been a personal enjoyment for me in business, and I have found people are more than willing to lend a hand, offer information and advice — you just need to ask. Building those alliances and foundations of knowledge on a subject matter makes tackling the future more exciting and fruitful.

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

Our benefit health plan is much more than handing out an insurance card at the beginning of the year. We encourage our team members and their families to learn about their personal health, get engaged in a variety of health and wellness programs and try to live life in the healthiest possible way. The result of that is literally hundreds of testimonials from our members every year on how they have lost weight, changed their lifestyle and gotten off medications. It is extremely rewarding and is a testament to [our] close-knit corporate culture.

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

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Some will remember the volcano eruption in Iceland in spring of 2010. I was just finishing a week of meetings in London with Lloyd’s syndicates related to our property insurance placement when the airspace in England and most of northern Europe was shut down — no airplanes in or out! Flights were ultimately canceled for the following five days. Therefore, with a few other stranded visitors like myself, we experimented and tried out new restaurants every day until we could leave. It was a very interesting time!

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

I am originally from Canada, and I played ice hockey from the time I was four years old up until quite recently. Too many surgeries sadly forced my recent retirement.

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

That’s a funny one … I am a CPA working in the casino industry, doing insurance and risk management, so neighbors and acquaintances think I either do tax returns or they think I’m a blackjack dealer at the casino!




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