Nevada’s Adria White on Her Time in Public Sector Risk Management and How Community Makes Better Risk Managers of Everyone

For Adria White, community is a big aspect of a successful risk management career. It’s why she’s adamant about working strategically with her team and the public entity risk management community in Nevada.
By: | April 3, 2024

R&I: What was your first job? 

I worked at Silver Oak Golf Course. I started at the front desk, checking people in for their tee times. And then I moved into the golf cart retrieval, cleaning, all of that fun stuff. It was probably the most fun job that I ever had, driving those golf carts around, not having a care in the world. And I had a lot of friends that worked there also. 

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

I kind of fell into it. I was working toward my master’s degree … and I was just kind of looking through these job postings. There was a split position between risk management and HR recruitment at the university. So I applied and was hired. I got a little bit of recruitment experience, application review, interviewing — all of that. 

The other half of my day was spent in risk management. I was like, “Oh, I really like this. This is interesting. It’s different every day.” Eventually, I went full-time into the risk side. 

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

The biggest change that I’ve noticed would be the impact of cybersecurity. In the past few years, especially since COVID, it’s been a huge topic of discussion, like the increases in premiums because of the amount of attacks that we see nowadays, and the attacks are bigger and getting more prominent. 

R&I: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career? 

My biggest challenge happened a few years ago, when I worked for the state. A worker who was under me left right before we had a two-day conference to plan. And so I had to start working on building this conference, putting everything together, getting the speakers. 

Fortunately, we pulled it all together. I had a great team working around me … and it turned out to be a really great conference. [That experience] helped me see that in a time of high stress, I know I can jump in, and I can look at it and feel confident that it will come out okay. 

R&I: Who has been your mentor(s) and why? 

My number one mentor was my first boss, when I was at the university and first started in risk management. She has been in risk management almost her whole career. She knows everything from risk management, insurance, workers’ comp — everything. And she really helped me learn it all, because as I said, I didn’t have that experience when I started. Even now, if something comes up, I can call her and pick her brain, and she doesn’t usually give me the answer, which I really appreciate. She lets me figure it out with some guidance. Her knowledge has just been a huge help to me. 

And then I would say both my mom and my sister are people I look up to; I’ve seen them work incredibly hard their whole lives. My mom started out at a lower position and then she ended up being a high-ranking person within the state. And my sister is a VP over at Stanford Children’s Hospital, and she’s worked her way up. Having both of them in my life means I can look up to them and strive to be just like them and work just as hard. 

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right? 

Within the risk management community, at least here in Nevada, it is a small world; it seems like everyone knows everyone or, you know, that whole “seven degrees of separation,” right? 

I think that it’s great, because in our community here in Nevada, it’s a great place to connect to people. If the person you’re talking to doesn’t have an answer, then they’ll put you in contact with someone else who has that answer, or someone else who’s dealt with that situation. Having those peer connections, those people whom you can talk to, helps us do our jobs better. 

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of? 

I have a hard time with this one, because I think that they are doing a great job at a lot of things. For me personally, I think more conferences or seminars that have to do with local governments would be beneficial. I know a lot of the big conferences we see deal with private companies more so than public. And that’s not to say that we don’t deal with the same things in local government, but it’s just a little bit different. So, I think having more smaller conferences regarding local government would be beneficial. 

R&I: How would you say technology has impacted the risk management profession? 

Technology has helped the risk management profession in enabling risk managers and professionals to look at risks in real time and allowing them to address them much more quickly and much more effectively. 

It’s also enabling predictions and giving a look into the future, letting us say, “Okay, we can help stop this risk by using some technological approach.” 

Technology also allows larger businesses or larger governments that have multiple locations to better understand risks that they have in all those different locations. 

R&I: What’s your favorite book/movie? 

I have both. For my movie, I actually have three, because I can’t narrow it down: “Gone in 60 Seconds,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Rock of Ages.” 

And my book — it’s a silly romance novel I probably read three times a year: It’s Jude Deveraux’s “A Knight in Shining Armor.” 

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of? 

Getting my master’s degree, my MPA. That was a huge moment for me. I ran a full marathon. And then, ever since I started in risk, my goal has been to become a risk manager. And I have achieved that. 

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you’ve ever engaged in? 

My husband and I went spelunking — cave diving outside of Modesto. We were traveling, and we happened to drive by this billboard that said “Check out these cool caves.” We went there not knowing that we were going to be crawling through these caves that are very small, these tiny little canals that you have to maneuver. I mean, we had hard hats. It was close to a two-, three-hour adventure we had to get through. It was beautiful. Definitely worth it. &

Autumn Demberger is a freelance writer and can be reached at [email protected].

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