Risk Management

The Profession

Jacques Arragon on earning management’s trust, focusing on education, and Roger Moore as the best James Bond.
By: | August 4, 2014 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

I interned at Guy Carpenter in New York City, which was a memorable learning experience. After graduating from Temple, I was hired as a risk analyst in Ford Motor Co.’s global risk management department.

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

My majors were Risk Management & Insurance and Finance. I became very focused on the risk side at Temple, which produced my first job opportunity in that field.


Jacques Arragon, vice president, risk management, Penn National Gaming, Inc.

R&I: Did you come to the U.S. solely to attend Temple? What attracted you to the school?

I came to the U.S. to finish my undergraduate degree at Temple… . Temple at the time was No. 1 or 2 in the country for the risk management & insurance major, which was the main reason for choosing it. My American Business School in France (CEFAM) partnered with various colleges in the U.S., including Temple.

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

The focus on risk management education is tremendous — which is critical for our industry’s succession planning. … Many insurers are realizing that their workforce is aging and succession planning is critical to remain competitive in business. As such, many companies are hiring college graduates and teaching them underwriting, broking, risk management, etc. … RIMS and other risk management foundations provide more and more opportunities for current college students to find internships.


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

The gradually evolving role and increased visibility of the risk management function. Risk management morphed from just being perceived as an insurance purchase function to a valued business function.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?

Cyber risk is most definitely in the forefront today due to the increased reliance on technology for many business functions.

R&I: Are you optimistic about the U.S. economy or pessimistic and why?
The U.S. economy has been slowly improving; however, I believe that we are in a new normal. Confidence levels are nowhere near the levels of a few years ago. Hopefully, business and political leaders have learned from their past errors in judgment.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

The most influential individual in my career was Dan Sobscynski, my first boss out of college at Ford Motor Co. He was extremely focused on risk management/insurance education and excellence, and believed risk managers can make a difference. The most important takeaways were to always set high level of expectations for yourself and your insurance partners, and as risk managers, always know more than your brokers! He unfortunately passed away in 2010.

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

Personally, marrying my soul mate and raising (continuous process) two daughters. Professionally, successfully bringing risk management awareness at all levels at Penn and earning management’s trust.

R6-14p42_Profession.inddR&I: How were you able to get management’s attention?

It was result-based. We experience many claims of various natures in our industry and our experience has been very positive with our insurance partners.  However, even when we faced adversity, we were ultimately successful in achieving our goals. It is my belief that trust is a byproduct of positive outcomes of real-life risk challenges.


R&I: How many e-mails do you get in a day?

Too many! Between 70 and 80.

R&I: What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at?

The best restaurant for its atmosphere and eclectic menu was Pomegranates in London — it unfortunately closed a few years ago.

R&I: What is your favorite drink?

Sparkling water (I know — very boring).

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?

I loved Rome for its endless history.

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

Zip lining in Costa Rica in June!

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

Any James Bond movie!

R&I: Who is the best James Bond?

Roger Moore would be my favorite.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

Knowing that I have an impact on preventing employees and guests from injury as well as protecting the company when unfortunate circumstances occur.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?

They are still not sure.

R&I: What insurance carrier do you have the highest opinion of?


It would be unfair to pinpoint just one. I have a few insurers around the globe with which I enjoy true partnerships whereas they are committed to long-term relationships, spend time understanding my risks, and are there when I need them the most and treat me fairly.

R&I: How much business do you do direct versus going through a broker?

All my placements are through brokers however … I am constantly in direct communication with my major insurance partners.

The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]

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.


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.


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]