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2016 Risk All Star: Christopher de Wolfe

Risk Management’s Sweet Spot

Mars Inc. is one of the biggest and most successful confectioners in the world.

Christopher de Wolfe, global director of risk management, Mars Inc.

Christopher de Wolfe, global director of risk management, Mars Inc.

But when Christopher de Wolfe, global director of risk management, took over the corporate risk management (CRM) group at the start of this year, risk management was often the last thing on people’s minds.

Sites would only reach out with questions or issues immediately before insurance deadlines, or in many cases, after the event. The result was more time and energy spent on getting people to comply with the basics.

de Wolfe, who was with Aon prior to moving to the U.S. with Mars risk management, realized that he needed to educate his company on the integral role of risk management.

“The CRM group had a lot to offer but was severely underutilized, which led to high insurance premiums, a high risk profile, and a significantly reduced resiliency and recovery capability,” he said.

Reflecting on how Mars as a business became a major success, de Wolfe decided that he needed to market and promote his own department in the same way.

Partnering with Lootok, a risk management consultancy firm, he developed a strategy to engage with the employees in a fun yet educational way.

He devised a 5- to 10-year plan, broken into 12- to 18-month strategies and individual project plans by mapping out all of the products and services that risk management offers.

He conducted a perception survey and drew up a program based on the ABCs of risk management.

“The ABCs allowed people to understand that risk management not only provides insurance, but it also ensures that the business continues,” said de Wolfe.

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“Once this message was communicated, people became a lot more interested in what we do.”

de Wolfe used Mars’ marketing materials to develop a distinct brand for the risk management program.

“We created a logo, posters, stickers, catch phrases and other swag that created a fun, engaging, consistent, recognizable and highly visible face for the program,” he said. “By using games and activities instead of interviews and PowerPoint presentations, we were able to collect the data we needed, and keep people engaged and interested.”

“The cost of maintaining the program has decreased substantially per site, which allows us to focus on growing the program.” — Christopher de Wolfe, global director of risk management, Mars Inc.

The results of the program have been outstanding, said de Wolfe.

“The cost of maintaining the program has decreased substantially per site, which allows us to focus on growing the program.

“Crucially, though, associates now involve us much earlier in the risk management process and contact us to let us know their risks, request help managing impending events, and help strategize ways to improve overall resiliency at their sites.”

Sean Murphy, CEO and founder of Lootok, said of de Wolfe: “I’ve known Chris for 10 years and what differentiates him is that he treats his program as a business.

“He had a good program before but he wasn’t satisfied with it so he completely revamped it and is now reaping the benefits.” &

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AllStars2016v1oRisk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, perseverance and passion.

See the complete list of 2016 Risk All Stars.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Risk Management

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]