Risk Management

The Profession

After 20 years on the job, TransUnion's Joon Sung knows that risk management success is based in part on the quality of relationships with brokers, carriers and other risk professionals.
By: | April 7, 2017 • 4 min read


R&I: What was your first job?

I was a clerk at my father’s video store. I got to learn firsthand the power of customer service — we had to do it better to differentiate from the big box stores just to survive. I don’t miss calling customers with outstanding videos or informing them that they owed a rewind fee.

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

I took an introductory course in risk management taught by Professor Joan Schmit.

I was fortunate to attend an institution that had such a wonderful and dedicated risk management and insurance discipline. Our professors were passionate about the role of insurance whether it was in a social or commercial setting and challenged us to advance it.

R&I: What was the best location for the RIMS conference and why?

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San Diego, bar none. The location of the convention center with all of the nearby hotels, downtown and scenery make it pretty hard to beat. Oh and the weather is out of this world.

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

Cyber.

R&I: How do you keep yourself educated about emerging risks like cyber? What are your go-to resources?

I try to talk to our CISO [chief information security officer] every chance I get. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience and has line of sight into the kinds of things we’re seeing every single day. Understanding what keeps him up at night helps me think about our perils and how insurance should respond to it.

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

Beazley. You have to have guts to insure a company like ours. You hear buzz words like trust, commitment and partnership bandied about all the time. Beazley breathes it. I’ve effectively had the same underwriter and claims manager for more than 10 years.

We’ve had our ups and downs, like in any relationship, but we got through them. And in so doing, it made our bond even stronger. In many respects, Beazley is similar to our company. We say what we mean, we take ownership in our work, and we follow through on our promises.

R&I: Is the contingent commission controversy overblown?

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Yes it is. I’m not crazy about it, but it’s been around in our industry a long time, and well before Mr. Spitzer made it a big deal. As risk managers, we’ve always tried to be pragmatic about it. If brokers can keep us fully informed of the contingent commission, then we don’t have to second guess whether or not they are looking out for our company’s best interest.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

John Bradley, the risk manager of U.S. Bank. Every decision he makes is rooted in the question, “What is best for my company?” He understands insurance and people, and in this business, the latter is critical to success. If he wasn’t so loyal to the Chicago Bears, I’d call him a friend.

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

I enjoy the interaction and collaboration among my colleagues, insurance brokers and insurers. We all come from such different backgrounds, yet when we work together to accomplish a single goal, it is incredibly gratifying.

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

My parents still think I sell personal lines insurance, which is perfectly fine except when their friends call me about getting a quote for a homeowner’s policy.

My friends think I do what Ben Stiller did in the movie “Along Came Polly” — using the Riskmaster 9000 …

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

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I’d have to say technology. Our industry was so paper intensive in the past. I remember a time when we faxed insurance applications, insurance certificates, insurance policies, etc.

Now most of the insurance policies are PDFs, searchable and largely sent by email. I’m receiving claims notices by text from my insurer as it’s reported in real time. We’ve come a long way. The challenge now is to make sure we’re taking advantage of the efficiency for good.

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

“Tommy Boy” starring Chris Farley and David Spade. I’m not ashamed to admit it either. It’s funny, touching and has tremendous replay value.

R&I: What is your favorite drink?

The Korean name for it is Makgeolli. It’s a rice wine that was popular among farmers and the “working class” back in the day. It’s fermented rice and tastes a little sweet, but it pairs nicely with just about any meat.




Katie Siegel is a staff writer at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

2017 RIMS

Cyber Threat Will Get More Difficult

Companies should focus on response, resiliency and recovery when it comes to cyber risks.
By: | April 19, 2017 • 2 min read
Topics: Cyber Risks | RIMS

“The sky is not falling” when it comes to cyber security, but the threat is a growing challenge for companies.

“I am not a cyber apocalyptic kind of guy,” said Gen. Michael Hayden, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency, who currently is a principal at the Chertoff Group, a security consultancy.

Gen. Michael Hayden, former head of the CIA and NSA, and principal, The Chertoff Group

“There are lots of things to worry about in the cyber domain and you don’t have to be apocalyptic to be concerned,” said Hayden prior to his presentation at a Global Risk Forum sponsored by Lockton on Sunday afternoon on the geopolitical threats facing the United States.

“We have only begun to consider the threat as it currently exists in the cyber domain.”

Hayden said cyber risk is equal to the threat times your vulnerability to the threat, times the consequences of a successful attack.

At present, companies are focusing on the vulnerability aspect, and responding by building “high walls and deep moats” to keep attackers out, he said. If you do that successfully, it will prevent 80 percent of the attackers.

“It’s all about making yourself a tougher target than the next like target,” he said.

But that still leaves 20 percent vulnerability, so companies need to focus on the consequences: It’s about response, resiliency and recovery, he said.

The range of attackers is vast, including nations that have used cyber attacks to disrupt Sony (the North Koreans angry about a movie), the Sands Casino (Iranians angry about the owner’s comments about their country), and U.S. banks (Iranians seeking to disrupt iconic U.S. institutions after the Stuxnet attack on their nuclear program), he said.

“You don’t have to offend anybody to be a target,” he said. “It may be enough to be iconic.”

The world order that has existed for the past 75 years “is melting away” and the world is less stable.

And no matter how much private companies do, it may not be enough.

“The big questions in cyber now are law and policy,” Hayden said. “We have not yet decided as a people what we want or will allow our government to do to keep us safe in the cyber domain.”

The U.S. government defends the country’s land, sea and air, but when it comes to cyber, defenses have been mostly left to private enterprises, he said.

“I don’t know that we have quite decided the balance between the government’s role and the private sector’s role,” he said.

As for the government’s role in the geopolitical challenges facing it, Hayden said he has seen times that were more dangerous, but never more complicated.

The world order that has existed for the past 75 years “is melting away” and the world is less stable, he said.

Nations such as North Korea, Iran, Russia and Pakistan are “ambitious, brittle and nuclear.” The Islamic world is in a clash between secular and religious governance, and China, which he said is “competitive and occasionally confrontational” is facing its own demographic and economic challenges.

“It’s going to be a tough century,” Hayden said.

Anne Freedman is managing editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]