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

Risk Management

The Profession

After 20 years in the business, Navy Pier’s Director of Risk Management values her relationships in the industry more than ever.
By: | June 1, 2017 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

Working at Dominick’s Finer Foods bagging groceries. Shortly after I was hired, I was promoted to [cashier] and then to a management position. It taught me great responsibility and it helped me develop the leadership skills I still carry today.

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

While working for Hyatt Regency McCormick Place Hotel, one of my responsibilities was to oversee the administration of claims. This led to a business relationship with the director of risk management of the organization who actually owned the property. Ultimately, a position became available in her department and the rest is history.

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

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The risk management community is doing a phenomenal job in professional development and creating great opportunities for risk managers to network. The development of relationships in this industry is vitally important and by providing opportunities for risk managers to come together and speak about their experiences and challenges is what enables many of us to be able to do our jobs even more effectively.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

Attracting, educating and retaining young talent. There is this preconceived notion that the insurance industry and risk management are boring and there could be nothing further from the truth.

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

In my 20 years in the industry, the biggest change in risk management and the insurance industry are the various types of risk we look to insure against. Many risks that exist today were not even on our radar 20 years ago.

Gina Kirchner, director of risk management, Navy Pier Inc.

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

FM Global. They have been our property carrier for a great number of years and in my opinion are the best in the business.

R&I: Are you optimistic about the US economy or pessimistic and why?

I am optimistic that policies will be put in place with the new administration that will be good for the economy and business.

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

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The commercial risks that are of most concern to me are cyber risks, business interruption, and any form of a health epidemic on a global scale. We are dealing with new exposures and new risks that we are truly not ready for.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

My mother has played a significant role in shaping my ideals and values. She truly instilled a very strong work ethic in me. However, there are many men and women in business who have mentored me and have had a significant impact on me and my career as well.

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

I am most proud of making the decision a couple of years ago to return to school and obtain my [MBA]. It took a lot of prayer, dedication and determination to accomplish this while still working a full time job, being involved in my church, studying abroad and maintaining a household.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

“Heaven Is For Real” by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent. I loved the book and the movie.

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

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A French restaurant in Paris, France named Les Noces de Jeannette Restaurant à Paris. It was the most amazing food and brings back such great memories.

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

Israel. My husband and I just returned a few days ago and spent time in Jerusalem, Nazareth, Jericho and Jordan. It was an absolutely amazing experience. We did everything from riding camels to taking boat rides on the Sea of Galilee to attending concerts sitting on the Temple steps. The trip was absolutely life changing.

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

Many, many years ago … I went parasailing in the Caribbean. I had a great experience and didn’t think about the risk at the time because I was young, single and free. Looking back, I don’t know that I would make the same decision today.

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

I would have to say the relationships and partnerships I have developed with insurance carriers, brokers and other professionals in the industry. To have wonderful working relationships with such a vast array of talented individuals who are so knowledgeable and to have some of those relationships develop into true friendships is very rewarding.

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

My friends and family have a general idea that my position involves claims and insurance. However, I don’t think they fully understand the magnitude of my responsibilities and the direct impact it has on my organization, which experiences more than 9 million visitors a year.




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