2017 Risk All Star: Dan Holden

Standing Up and Standing Out

Dan Holden works for a manufacturer. Downtime is the company’s biggest worry.

Dan Holden, manager, Corporate Risk & Insurance, Daimler Trucks North America

So when he started at Daimler Trucks North America 10 years ago, Holden queried company officials on business continuity, disaster recovery and emergency preparedness plans.

Specifically, he wanted to know if the company had contracts in place with restoration companies that would stipulate that those restorers give Daimler immediate help in the event of a fire or some other business interruption event.

In an international business like Daimler’s — owner of Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner Trucks, among other brands — there are always plenty of issues to address, so the immediate disaster restoration concept wasn’t acted on right away.

Then it happened. A fire hit one of Daimler’s U.S. plants and knocked it offline. Holden was tasked with getting a restoration company out to the site as soon as possible.

He did that, and then learned that additional restoration companies, that he hadn’t called, made their way to the site, acting on information they picked up listening to emergency response scanners. One of the imposters had even gained entry to the plant and started work.

Holden escorted the posers off the premises. Luckily, the fire wasn’t as bad as initially thought and the restoration company he called was able to get the plant up and running in Daimler’s preferred 36-hour timeframe.


Rather than say “I told you so,” Holden used the plant fire as a teaching moment to get what he’d been after all along: an agreement with a reputable disaster restoration company which had the resources and the will to give Daimler contracted, immediate help if an event occurred.

“When we had this fire, it was a perfect opportunity for me to say, ‘Okay, what have we learned from this?’ ” Holden recalls.

Had the situation been worse — say, a regional disaster — he remembers thinking, “We would have had to just get in line with everybody that didn’t have a pre-planned disaster restoration program and hope that somebody gets to us.”

“When we had this fire, it was a perfect opportunity for me to say, ‘Okay, what have we learned from this?’ ” — Dan Holden, manager, Corporate Risk & Insurance, Daimler Trucks North America

After putting out an RFP, Holden and his colleagues in facilities decided on Belfor USA, which had the resources and the geographic spread to give Holden what he needed. Now, any Daimler plant in the U.S. that suffers an adverse event just needs to dial an 800 number to get immediate restoration help.

The program roll-out was so well-received by upper management that Holden was invited to share his disaster restoration program with his international risk management partners at a global risk summit. His plan is now being used as a template in other countries.

Katie Miller, a regional accounts manager with Belfor, said Holden did a great job in bringing various stakeholders within Daimler together to make sure everyone understood the importance of getting immediate disaster recovery help and signing off on it.

“He ended up taking the lead completely,” Miller said. &


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.

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The Profession

For This Pharmaceutical Risk Director, Managing Risk Means Being Part of the Mission to Save Lives

Meet Eric Dobkin, director, insurance and risk management, for Merck & Co. Inc.
By: | September 28, 2018 • 5 min read

R&I: What was your first job?
My first job out of undergrad was as an actuarial trainee at Chubb.I was a math major in school, and I think the options for a math major coming out are either a teacher or an actuary, right? Anyway, I was really happy when the opportunity at Chubb presented itself. Fantastic company. I learned a lot there.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?
After I went back to get my MBA, I decided I wanted to work in corporate finance. When I was interviewing, one of the opportunities was with Merck. I really liked their mission, and things worked out. Given my background, they thought a good starting job would be in Merck’s risk management group. I started there, rotated through other areas within Merck finance but ultimately came back to the Insurance & Risk Management group. I guess I’m just one of those people who enjoy this type of work.


R&I: What is risk management doing right?
I think the community is doing a good job of promoting education, sharing ideas and advancing knowledge. Opportunities like this help make us all better business partners. We can take these ideas and translate them into actionable solutions to help our companies.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?
I think we have made good advancements in articulating the value proposition of investing in risk management, but much more can be done. Sometimes there is such a focus on delivering immediate value, such as cost savings, that risk management does not get appropriate attention (until something happens). We need to develop better tools that can reinforce that risk management is value-creating and good for operational efficiency, customers and shareholders.

R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?
I’d actually say there hasn’t been as much change as I would have hoped. I think the industry speaks about innovation more often than it does it. To be fair, at Merck we do have key partners that are innovators, but some in the industry are less enthusiastic to consider new approaches. I think there is a real need to find new and relevant solutions for large, complex risks.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?
Cyber risk. While it’s not emerging anymore, it’s evolving, dynamic and deserves the attention it gets. Merck was an early adopter of risk transfer solutions for cyber risk, and we continue to see insurance as an important component of the overall cyber risk management framework. From my perspective, this risk, more than any other, demands continuous forward-thinking to ensure we evolve solutions.

R&I: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
Sticking with the cyber theme, I’d say navigating through a cyber incident is right up there. In June 2017, Merck experienced a network cyber attack that led to a disruption of its worldwide operations, including manufacturing, research and sales. It was a very challenging environment. And managing the insurance claim that resulted has been extremely complex. But at the same time, I have learned a tremendous amount in terms of how to think about the risk, enterprise resiliency and how to manage through a cyber incident.

R&I: What advice might you give to students or other aspiring risk managers?
Have strong intellectual curiosity. Always be willing to listen and learn. Ask “why?” We deal with a lot of ambiguity in our business, and the more you seek to understand, the better you will be able to apply those learnings toward developing solutions that meet the evolving risk landscape and needs of the business.


R&I: What role does technology play in your company’s approach to risk management?
We’re continuing to look for ways to apply technology. For example, being able to extract and leverage data that resides in our systems to evaluate risk, drive efficiencies and make things like property-value reporting easier. We’re also looking to utilize data visualization tools to help gain insights into our risks.

R&I: What are your goals for the next five to 10 years of your career?
I think, at this time, I would like to continue to learn and grow in the type of work I do and broaden my scope of responsibilities. There are many opportunities to deliver value. I want to continue to focus on becoming a stronger business partner and help enable growth.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?
I’d say right now Star Wars is top on my list. It has been magical re-watching and re-living the series I watched as a kid through the eyes of my children.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in? When I was about 15, I went to a New York Rangers versus Philadelphia Flyers game at the Philadelphia Spectrum. I wore my Rangers jersey. I would not do that again.

Eric Dobkin, director, insurance & risk management, Merck & Co. Inc

R&I: What is it about this work you find most fulfilling or rewarding?
I am passionate about Merck’s mission of saving and improving lives. “Inventing for Life” is Merck’s tagline. It’s funny, but most people don’t associate “inventing” with medicine. But Merck has been inventing medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases for a long time. It’s amazing to think the products we make can help people fight terrible diseases like cancer. Whatever little bit I can do to help advance that mission is very fulfilling and rewarding.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?
Ha! My kids think I make medicine. I guess they think that because I work for Merck. I suppose if even in a small way I can contribute to Merck’s mission of saving and improving lives, I am good with that. &

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