Pandemic Risk, Meet ‘Mr. Coronavirus;’ His Real Name Is Michael Lubben
Like many in the industry, Michael Lubben found his way into risk management almost by accident: “I was about to get married, so I thought I better have a job. My fiance’s roommate’s dad was the assistant claim manager at Aetna. He interviewed me, and I started on my way.”
From there, Lubben worked his way through commercial claims, starting as an adjuster and eventually managing large claim offices for Aetna in Grand Rapids and Detroit, Michigan. He transitioned over to risk management for a Finnish company named KONE, starting as the insurance and claims manager and worked his way up to global vice president. He’s been leading risk management departments for large companies ever since.
Today, Lubben can be found directing global risk management for Henry Crown and Company, a conglomerate made up of a number of diverse businesses, including manufacturing, hospitality, sports and leisure, and real estate. Many of these operating companies do not have an in-house risk manager, so they look to Lubben for guidance.
“For operations like these, you really need to get involved with the business and understand what each of these businesses do,” he said. “For me, that means getting out onto the factory floors, understanding their issues from an operations standpoint, and really diving into what their concerns are.”
As the person in charge of enterprise risk management, Lubben believes having that understanding of each operations’ business gives him and his team credibility: “It’s challenging having so many different companies, but developing relationships — which is key — and working to understand the business gives us the rapport to make positive change.”
In recent months, this rapport and trust with the operating companies has been put to the test. “Many of our operating companies are deemed essential businesses,” said Lubben. The novel coronavirus certainly brought on its fair share of what-ifs and what-nows. But, according to Lubben, having built the relationships with the operating companies over time has made the unknown less daunting than it could have been.
“We’ve had folks from the very beginning step up to make operating in these spaces as safe as possible,” he said.
Lubben’s role specifically has been in keeping the operating companies’ presidents up-to-date on COVID-19’s progression, CDC recommendations, state and federal mandates, testing and more. He has found the entire experience to be rewarding in that he has been able to dive deep into the subject itself, working with legal, HR and many other departments to figure out the best next steps.
“I’ve become something of a ‘Mr. Coronavirus,’ ” he said, “in that I spend a lot of time researching it, talking about it, discussing protocols with operation team leaders. We’ve built a good team that we’ve been working closely with, and we know how to delegate responsibilities in order to keep the companies’ workers safe. I’m really proud to be a part of that,” he said. &
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