2016 Risk All Star: Susan Hiteshew

A Winning Strategy

As a fast-growing company, Under Armour Inc. naturally has to keep on top of any number of potential exposures that could pop up — and Susan Hiteshew helps her firm do just that with her New Business Venture Global Insurance & Risk Management playbook.

Susan Hiteshew, senior manager, global insurance and risk financing, Under Armour Inc.

Susan Hiteshew, senior manager, global insurance and risk financing, Under Armour Inc.

“In a young company that grows as quickly as we do, you can’t wait for things to happen — you have to be proactive,” said Hiteshew, who came on board in 2011 as the company’s first traditional risk manager.

Founded in 1996 as a fitness apparel retailer, Under Armour has logged 20 percent-plus quarterly revenue growth for years, as it extends its global reach and product base to include more fitness technology solutions.

In 2014, the company made its first acquisition, the fitness-tracking application MapMyFitness. As the firm began to integrate the new purchase, Hiteshew shrewdly realized that the organization needed a playbook to learn how her team could integrate and add value.

“When we built the playbook, we tried to think about our internal stakeholders — what is important to them — and how the work we do can help them get to the goal line faster and smarter,” she said. “But one of the biggest challenges of risk management is getting a seat at the table at the right time, and so instead of risk management chasing down information, we found a way to facilitate the flow of information to us.”

The playbook details exactly how Hiteshew’s team could add value to any new project, and how the team should be looped into any project at the onset, so that risk management could help to “reduce the likelihood of surprises in their businesses operations.”

“In a young company that grows as quickly as we do, you can’t wait for things to happen — you have to be proactive.” — Susan Hiteshew, senior manager, global insurance and risk financing, Under Armour Inc.

In drafting the playbook, Hiteshew’s team conducted extensive research, pulling themes from certain underwriting applications, timelines that are important to the organization, and key strategic areas of focus.

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The team then asked its broker team at Aon, led by Charlie Skinner in Baltimore, to review and add input to the playbook before the materials began to be distributed internally in 2015. Since then, the playbook continues to be upgraded as the company grows.

The playbook has been particularly helpful in dealing with challenges created by fast growth, including coordinating communication between multiple facilities, Hiteshew said.

“We’re now decentralized between Baltimore, our European headquarters in Amsterdam, our team in Shanghai and Guangzhou, and our Latin American headquarters in Panama,” she said. “This document has helped us concisely communicate our involvement.”

Jonathan Schwartz, the firm’s vice president of global risk management, said Hiteshew excels at strategic thinking and communications.

“At Under Armour, change is constant, and playing catch-up with the business is a losing proposition,” Schwartz said. “Susan has kept insurance and risk management proactive and strategic by effectively keeping pace with UA’s growth and change.” &

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AllStars2016v1oRisk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, perseverance and passion.

See the complete list of 2016 Risk All Stars.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.

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That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.

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Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]