Mary Lou Morrissette
I was a margin clerk in financial futures at Kidder Peabody & Company.
R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?
While I was at General Dynamics working in HR, the opportunity to transition to risk management was afforded to me. I was very fortunate that the risk manager at the time took a chance on me and taught me so very much. Coming from a manufacturing facility with multiple unions helped prepare me for any situation.
R&I: How has your experience in human resources helped your career in risk management? What do the positions have in common?
I believe my HR background has helped my risk management career immensely. Both areas are interrelated. People are fundamental to accomplishing goals and people can help or hinder those results. Human resources is tasked with bringing in and nurturing the right people, and risk management is tasked with keeping them safe.
R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?
Education, keeping up with industry trends and having resources available to better prepare organizations. There is always something new or a new way to view a situation.
R&I: What kind of resources can risk managers bring to the table?
Data and analytics have come so far, and the systems out there are able to drill down into good quality information that can be used more effectively.
R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?
Within the community, we all understand the role of risk management, but getting organizations to understand the importance of considering risk during the strategic decision-making process as opposed to treating it like an after-thought can be a challenge. Risk should be involved in day-to-day operations — not just when a problem arises.
R&I: What was the best location for the RIMS conference and why?
San Diego. The proximity to the city, community and culture was great.
R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?
The emergence of cyber security.
R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?
Catastrophic events, both natural and manmade, are becoming more of a norm of late. We need to look at analytics and the role they play in understanding these disasters and subsequent losses to help organizations prepare, manage and recover from these types of events.
R&I: What insurance carrier do you have the highest opinion of?
We have always valued relationships. We have a few long-standing partners that immediately come to mind. FM Global, Great American and Safety National have all been immensely important to our company and our growth.
R&I: How much business do you do direct versus going through a broker?
All through a broker.
R&I: Is the contingent commission controversy overblown?
If you have trust and faith in your broker and they have full disclosure, then yes, it is overblown. But I have seen the cost of hidden commissions and the effect on the bottom line.
R&I: Who is your mentor and why?
I had a mentor early on in my career in HR, Marie Haggerty. She instilled in me the mindset to speak up and be heard and not to shy away from an adverse opinion but to be strong in my convictions.
R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?
Being awarded FM Global’s Highly Protected Risk award in 2011. The award is granted when a location has no human element recommendations, no uncontrolled high-risk exposures and no other major loss exposures. Mohegan Sun has worked hand-in-hand with FM since 2000 on loss prevention recommendations and improvements. Our engineering team as well as our fire department have been instrumental in our ability to achieve this award. We have always tried to meet or exceed the advice we receive from FM’s engineers. This has made our property better protected as well as helped to keep our premium in line.
R&I: How many e-mails do you get in a day?
R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?
I only read nonfiction and personal development books. Katie Couric’s “The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons from Extraordinary Lives” is one of my favorites.
R&I: What is your favorite drink?
Coffee and water.
R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?
The Pearl Harbor memorial. I love history and to stand over the Arizona was humbling.
R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?
R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?
That I can make a difference in either a safer workplace or on the bottom line, and that every day is different. I love the diversity of what I do and the constant change and ability to continue to grow and learn.
R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?
I definitely get the deer in the headlights look when I tell people what I do — I don’t think any of my family or friends truly understand it.