Risk Management

The Profession

The risk manager for Columbus, Ga., discusses law enforcement liability and venturing into a coal mine at 15.
By: | December 14, 2015 • 5 min read

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R&I: What was your first job?

I worked for The Women’s Royal Naval Service — part of Britain’s Royal Navy. I was a so-called wren and worked in communications: I did coding, decoding, air traffic control, ship-to-shore communications, that sort of thing.

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

When I was still living in England I worked for a P&I club — a third party liability insurer. I was a maritime adjuster. This was back in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Soon thereafter I came to America.

R&I: What precipitated the move?

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Koch Industries asked me to come to America and work for them. [They] had been one of the companies whose claims I handled in London. The company needed my maritime law expertise so they asked me to come and work in their risk management department. I was there for over two years. I got back into risk management in 2000, when I was hired by the Chesapeake, Va., public works department.

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

We’re realizing there’s a lot more to risk management than just looking at the bottom line and finding a way to incorporate into our plans the less obvious factors that lead to increased risk.

What the risk management community is doing more of, I think, is looking beyond the bottom line at things like: What are the other parts of the company or the entities doing that we can incorporate into improving safety, reducing our exposure to injuries and the costs of injuries, and asking more questions from the other parts of our organizations. One sign of that is we’ve begun talking a lot about predictive analysis, which incorporates a lot of factors that never used to be incorporated.

“We have a ‘geographic isolation’ tendency as American businesses. We tend to think that we are safe from a lot of things.”

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

That’s the other side of the coin. For those still working under the old system we used to operate by, we do need to bring more people into the wheelhouse. This is why I try to go out to other parts of the organization so I can see them in action. That helps me to identify areas we need to look at. It also helps people in the other parts of the organization to communicate with me their needs and how we can work together.

Anne-Marie Amiel, Risk Manager, Columbus Consolidated Government, Ga.

Anne-Marie Amiel, Risk Manager, Columbus Consolidated Government, Ga.

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

For public entities, law enforcement liability is one of the big issues these days. In the past year, there has been so much in the news about police and lawsuits against law enforcement. I know that is something that is concerning many public entities right now and this is going to be a big one for us as a local government.

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

CCG is basically self-insured. However, our excess coverage on workers’ comp is carried by Safety National of St. Louis, and I really like Safety National.

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

Most of our business is through a broker. We place our workers’ comp excess coverage through broker APEX Insurance, and we are doing property and casualty insurance through a different broker.

R&I: How do you grade the insurance industry’s response to the threat of cyber attacks?

This is a big issue for us as well. For the industry as a whole, I think it’s been a little off the mark. We have a “geographic isolation” tendency as American businesses. We tend to think that we are safe from a lot of things. For instance, look at how the U.S. credit card industry has only recently begun to catch up to what Europe is doing in terms of the upgraded security of the card.

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R&I:  Are you optimistic about the U.S. economy or pessimistic and why?

In the short term, I think we are basically treading water but long-term, I am optimistic. Americans work hard and want to succeed so I think that in the long term, we will.

R&I:  Who is your mentor and why?

There have been a lot of people who come to mind but probably the key person would be my boss when I was a temporary researcher working for the Secretariat at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. He told me I could do or be anything at a time when there were no women or almost no women in my field.

R&I: What did you do there?

I was a temporary researcher working for the Secretariat. I actually prepared the documentation for the first ever European Parliamentary hearing on maritime pollution. I even got to meet Jacques Cousteau.

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

I think probably it was when I worked for a nonprofit organization that helped people uphold their constitutional rights. It was for people who couldn’t afford expensive lawyers.

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

The Chop House in London.

R&I:  What is your favorite drink?

Peach Bellini.

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

It’s a hard question since I have been around the world since I was 15. Probably New Zealand, because there is a bit of every country in the world in New Zealand in terms of its landscape and weather.

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

Probably going down into a coal mine, which happened to be in New Zealand. It was an educational expedition. I was only about 15 at the time and in the summers we went on wonderful field trips with my school and I got to pan for gold and all sorts of wonderful things.

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R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

Our military. They risk their lives to save ours and to keep us free.

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

I get to help our employees recover their health and get fit while at the same time saving the taxpayers money.

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

They think I try to make things safer for our employees, that I talk to a lot of unhappy people, and that I’m always trying to save money!

Janet Aschkenasy is a freelance financial writer based in New York. She can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Risk Management

The Profession

This senior risk manager values his role in helping Varian Medical Systems support research and technologies in the fight against cancer.
By: | September 12, 2017 • 5 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

When I was 15 years old I had a summer job working for the city of Plentywood, mowing grass in the parks and ballfields, emptying garbage cans, hauling waste to the dump, painting crosswalk lines.  A great job for a teenager but I thought getting a college degree and working in an air-conditioned office would be a good plan long term.

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

I was enrolled in the University of Montana as a general business student, and I wanted to declare a more specialized major during my sophomore year. I was working for my dad at his insurance agency over the summer, and taking new agent training coursework on property/casualty risks in my spare time, so I had an appreciation for insurance. My dad suggested I research risk management for a career, and I transferred sight unseen to the University of Georgia to enroll in their risk management program. I did an internship as a senior with the risk management department at Sulzer Medica, and they offered me a full time job.

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

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We need to do a better job of saying yes. We tend to want to say no to many risks, but there are upside benefits to some risks. If we initiate a collaborative exercise with the risk owners — people who may have unique knowledge about that particular risk — and include a cross section of people from other corporate functions, you can do an effective job of taking the risk apart to analyze it, figure out a way to manage that exposure, and then reap the upside benefits while reducing the downside exposure. That can be done with new products and new service offerings, when there isn’t coverage available for a risk. It’s asking, is there anything we can do to reduce the risk without transferring it?

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

Cyber liability. There’s so much at stake and the bad guys are getting more resourceful every day. At Varian, our first approach is to try to make our systems and products more resilient, so we’re trying to direct resources to preventing it from happening in the first place. It’s a huge reputation risk if one of our products or systems were compromised, so we want to avoid that at all costs.

We need to do a better job of saying yes. We tend to want to say no to many risks, but there are upside benefits to some risks.

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

I’ve worked with a number of great ones over the years. We’ve enjoyed a great property insurance relationship with Zurich. Their loss control services are very valuable to us. On the umbrella liability side, it’s been great partnering with companies like Swiss Re and Berkley Life Sciences because they’ve put in the time and effort to understand our unique risk exposures.

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

One hundred percent through a broker. I view our broker as an extension of our risk management team. We benefit from each team member’s respective area of expertise and experience.

R&I: Is the contingent commission controversy overblown?

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I think so. The brokers were kind of villainized by Spitzer. I think it’s fair for brokers and insurers to make a reasonable profit, and if a portion of their profit came from contingent commissions, I’m fine with that. But I do appreciate the transparency and disclosure that came out as a result of the fiasco.

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

David Collins, Senior Manager, Risk Management, Varian Medical Systems Inc.

While we might be doing fine here in the U.S. from an economic perspective, the Middle East is a mess, and we’re living with nuclear threat from North Korea. But hope springs eternal, so I’m cautiously optimistic. I’m hoping saner minds prevail and our leaders throughout the world work together to make things better.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

My Dad got me started down the insurance and risk path. I’ve also been fortunate to work for or with a number of University of Georgia alumni who’ve been mentors for me. I’ve worked side by side with Karen Epermanis, Michael Rousseau, and Elisha Finney. And I’ve worked with Daniel Dean in his capacity as a broker.

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

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Raising my kids. I have a 15-year-old and 12-year-old, and they’re making mom and dad proud of the people they’re turning into.

On a professional level, a recent one would be the creation and implementation of our global travel risk program, which was a combined effort between security, travel and risk functions.

We have a huge team of service personnel around the world, traveling to customer sites to do maintenance and repair. We needed a way to track, monitor and communicate with them. We may need to make security arrangements or vet their lodging in some circumstances.

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

My 12-year-old son thought my job responsibilities could be summed up as a “professional worrier.” And that’s not too far off.

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

Varian’s mission is to focus energy on saving lives. Proper administration of the risk function puts the company in a better position to financially support research that improves products and capabilities, helps to educate health care providers and support cancer care in general. It means more lives saved from a terrible disease. I’m proud to contribute toward that.

When you meet someone whose cancer has been successfully treated with one of our products, it’s a powerful reward.




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