Risk Insider: Zachary Gifford

Stay True, Be Kind

By: | November 16, 2016 • 2 min read
Zachary Gifford is Director, Systemwide Risk Management with the California State University – Office of the Chancellor. He also is active in risk management organizations such as PARMA, PRIMA and RIMS. He can be reached at [email protected]
Topics: Risk Insider

Depending on one’s point-of-view, this past election appears to have caused a great amount of anxiety, vitriol and perhaps evidence of an electorate who made their choices (regardless of party) based on their heart and not on reliable nonpartisan evaluations, analytics or fact checking.

“I heard it on talk radio” or “saw it on a blog” are generally not the best sources of dispassionate and accurate information. In this election, that appeared to be the overwhelming source of ‘information’ used by the young, old, male, female, Republican, Democrat, etc.

Enterprise risk management gurus or ISO 31000 disciples must be scratching their heads. Can one imagine assessing a risk management endeavor in the same manner a large percentage of the electorate evaluated one of the ultimate risk assessments?

With the above said, and when there appears to be a period of great change at the federal level, we need to remind ourselves that the Constitution has the built-in ability to “pump the breaks,” most namely through the separation of powers. Our founders built in safety valves to protect us from demagoguery, fascism and oligarchy.

From a risk management perspective we ask the question: “What does this historical election mean to the profession, our organizations and ourselves?”

From a risk management perspective we ask the question: “What does this historical election mean to the profession, our organizations and ourselves?”

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As to the profession and our organizations, the answers are likely as plentiful as there are questions.

The risk manager for a mining, petroleum or pharmaceutical operation might be doing handsprings of joy at this moment.

Conversely, many working for governmental entities, especially those providing regulatory oversight or “services,” clean energy or the media, might be ingesting large quantities of antacids this week. Cherry smoothie flavor is my favorite.

One cannot think holistically without considering how such change affects one’s self. Without ranting about personal beliefs, all people should be able to agree that we want a president of the United States (and congress I suspect … ) to be successful, visionary and do well for the country.

Further, we do not have to respect the individual in the position; however, we must respect the position and the democratic values of our country. The ease of the transition of power is a good example of why we are blessed to live in the United State.

So let’s keep our chins up or our celebrations of new-found power humble and realize we are citizens first and then Democrat, Republican or other. Together, common ground can be found, and if not, we all get another bite of the apple in two and then four years hence.

Stay true and be kind to one another.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

2017 Risk All Stars

Immeasurable Value

The 2017 Risk All Stars strengthened their organizations by taking ownership of improved risk management processes and not quitting until they were in place.
By: | September 12, 2017 • 3 min read

Being the only person to hold a particular opinion or point of view within an organization cannot be easy. Do the following sound like familiar stories? Can you picture yourself or one of your risk management colleagues as the hero or heroine? Or better yet, as a Risk & Insurance® Risk All Star?

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One risk manager took a job with a company that was being spun off, and the risk management program, which was built for a much larger company, was not a good fit for the spun-off company.
Rather than sink into inertia, this risk manager took the bull by the horns and began an aggressive company intranet campaign to instill better safety and other risk management practices throughout the organization.

The risk manager, 2017 Risk All Star Michelle Bennett of Cable One, also changed some long-standing brokerage relationships that weren’t a good fit for the risk management and insurance program. In her first year on the job she produced premium savings and in her second year is in the process of introducing ERM company-wide.

Or perhaps this one rings a bell. The news is trickling out that a company is poised to dramatically expand, increasing the workforce three- or four-fold. Having this knowledge with certainty would be a great benefit to a risk manager, who could begin girding safety, workers’ comp and related programs accordingly. But things sometimes don’t work that way, do they? Sometimes the risk manager is one of the last people to know.

The Risk All Star Award recognizes at its core, creativity, perseverance and passion. The 13 winners of this year’s award all displayed those traits in abundance.

In the case of 2017 Risk All Star winner Steve Richards of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company, the news of an expansion spurred him to action. He completely overhauled the company’s workers’ compensation program and streamlined its claim management system. The results, even with a much higher headcount, were reduced legal costs, better return-to-work experiences for injured workers and a host of other improvements and savings.

The Risk All Star Award recognizes at its core, creativity, perseverance and passion. The 13 winners of this year’s award all displayed those traits in abundance. Sometimes it took years for a particular risk solution, as promoted by a risk manager, to find acceptance.

In other cases a risk manager got so excited about a solution, they never even considered getting turned down. They just kept pushing until they carried the day.

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Butler University’s Zach Finn became obsessive about what he felt was a lackluster effort on the part of the insurance industry to bring in new talent. The former risk manager for the J.M. Smucker Co. settled on the creation of a student-run captive to give his risk management students the experience they would need to get hired right out of college.

The result was a better risk management program for the university’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and immediate traction in the job market for Finn’s students.

A few of our Risk All Stars told us that the results they are achieving were decades in the making. Only by year-in, year-out dedication to gaining transparency about her co-op’s risks and learning more and more about her various insurance carriers, did Growmark Inc.’s Faith Cring create a stalwart risk management and insurance program that is the envy of the agricultural sector. Now she’s been with some of her insurance carriers more than 20 years — some more than 30 years.

Having the right idea and not having a home for it can be a lonely, frustrating experience. Having the creativity, the passion and perhaps, most importantly, the perseverance to see it through and get great results makes you a Risk All Star. &

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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.

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