How Marriott Vacations’ Nermine Demopoulos Deftly Managed Merger Risk and Became an All Star
In September 2018, Marriott Vacations Worldwide acquired ILG Inc., a multi-billion-dollar transaction of additional brands and businesses that nearly doubled the amount of employees — and risks — associated with its organization. ILG was facing millions of dollars in hurricane claims with a fragmented risk management approach.
Nermine Demopoulos, a 22-year veteran of Marriott and vice president of risk management and insurance for Marriott Vacations Worldwide, got out her fine-tooth comb.
“As soon as the acquisition transaction was closed, I was instantly the risk manager for this double-sized organization with twice the amount of risk. How do you integrate those programs in the midst of hundreds of millions of dollars of hurricane claims?” said Demopoulos.
Well, she did it carefully, holistically and successfully.
By October 2019, Demopoulos integrated corporate- and resort-level insurance programs, including property, commercial liability, workers’ compensation, corporate D&O, employment practices, cyber liability, crime and fiduciary liability lines. She reduced the overall annual insurance program expense, resulting in millions in synergy savings while improving coverage.
One of Demopoulos’s most leveraged strategies was integrating risk management into every division of the organization instead of just overseeing operations from a risk management perspective.
“We created a more efficient and holistic approach to risk management. This structure makes sure the risk management team is integrated into the operations and legal groups and a critical part of what makes the fundamentals of the organization work,” she said.
A large portion of MVW’s properties are located in areas of high storm and earthquake-related risk. Because of that, the organization already had a comprehensive disaster recovery taskforce of specialists that could immediately react to the multitude of crisis management issues related to the pandemic.
“Nermine was one of the key people to be on this taskforce, so she had the first-hand ability to understand what was happening, not just from a risk management perspective, but how it would impact the greater company,” said Justin McCracken, senior vice president, casualty practice, Beecher Carlson.
Before the risk landscape was overshadowed by COVID-19, Demopoulos is particularly proud of her approach to combining MVW’s and ILG’s cyber and privacy programs.
“I brought all of the key stakeholders into a room. I had each of the brokers give me an analysis of where they saw gaps in our programs. I did a new RFP for our broker, and then I invited them to run an all-day session with our internal company to help them identify all of the risks,” she said of her approach to the new cyber policy.
“I’m proud of getting corporate buy-in from the chief technology officer, the internal audit and privacy team, the cyber security team and the risk management team, and then making us one team.”
“She understands how a decision in one area can affect other areas of the company and the consequences that may come from that,” said McCracken. &
Risk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, clarity of vision and passion.