Risk Insider: Marilyn Rivers

Give It Back and Pay It Forward

By: | December 10, 2014

Marilyn Rivers, CPCU, ARM, AIC, currently serves as the director of risk and safety — city safety and compliance officer for a municipality in Upstate New York and is a director at large and delegate for the government and public sector division of the National Safety Council. She can be reached at [email protected].

Awhile back a rather contentious conversation ensued on a social media site when a college student “pinged” a business professional’s web account asking to connect.

Discourse followed as to whether the student should have had the audacity to suggest the connection.

For those of us who are graying in the public risk sector, the “how dare they” came as a sad commentary to a generation lost in transition.

I’m a baby boomer. My generation grew up on hard rock, the introduction of color television and the dreams of space. We watched a man land on the moon.

We looked to Walter Cronkite to hold us accountable for the losses in Vietnam, watched Gloria Steinem ask women to demand more as she burned her bra, and saw our government stumble in Watergate.

Throughout our youth, our generation was coached to reach higher, demand more of ourselves and to understand that we had the ability to make a difference.

Our role models varied, but they taught us to ask questions and to achieve, but at the end of the day – to give back.

However flawed, John F Kennedy reminded us, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

The goal of my generation is to ensure our profession’s survival. Many of us give back by sharing our knowledge through corporate struggles, hints for getting out of sticky situations, providing shoulders to listen, and sharing opportunities to allow growth and advancement.

As I facilitate education in the public sector, I remind my students that I took a long winding route to public risk management although my first job — counting cigarette advertisements on taxicabs in the early ’80s in Boston — might be considered a form of fleet management education these days.

Facilitating risk management education among the younger generation as they attempt to gain respect among their peers and gain the trust of their management staff is awe-inspiring.

Public risk management professionals like to call ourselves family. We share, challenge and connect. We laugh at ourselves, problem-solve our difficulties and offer support when needed.

The lessons learned and the ideas exchanged give faith that the future of our profession is not only viable, but has the potential to transform all of us if we would only give each other a chance.

I’m offering a challenge for the next time someone with a freshly inked resume asks to connect with you on a social media site — remember how vulnerable you once were on that very first job interview.

Think about JFK and how you may wish to be remembered within your profession. I will grant you that the world is definitely a competitive place, but getting there alone is a guaranteed one-way ticket to being forgotten.

Take the chance. Give back and ask that it be paid forward. The journey promised through that contact may offer a kaleidoscope of adventure, the reward of helping the next generation, and the promise your efforts will be remembered.

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