Risk Management

The Profession

Nancy Chambers is bolstered by the inspiration of her mother, now 90, who was born in a log cabin.
By: | September 15, 2014 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

Administrative assistant to three credit managers for a petroleum company in London, Ontario.

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

While working at the University of Guelph, our insurance broker suggested I join my local chapter of RIMS. I went to my first ORIMS meeting and was “hooked!”

Nancy Chambers, Director, Risk Management & Insurance, Bentall Kennedy

Nancy Chambers, Director, Risk Management & Insurance, Bentall Kennedy

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

While we each may be working for competitors, risk managers are so willing to share information and help each other, i.e., their ideas, best practices, data, and other information.

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

Mentoring students to enter the field. As the baby boomers look to retire, there will be a shortage of qualified and experienced candidates to fill these roles.

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

Recognition of the role of the risk manager by insurers and service providers. I had an adjuster say to me once early in my career: “I work for the insurer and I’ll tell you what you need to know, if and when I think you need to know it.” That has definitely changed!


R&I: What would you do if you weren’t a risk manager?

I love design, architecture and landscaping. It would be wonderful to work with people to bring their visions for their homes to fruition.

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

Technology is advancing at a furious pace and has been for a number of years now. While the benefits are many, do we really understand the corresponding risks and how to manage them?

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

There are a number of quality carriers. However, given Chubb underwrites a significant portion of our portfolio, and has always been willing to explore and find solutions to fit the uniqueness of our company’s operations, they would rank at the top.

“She raised us to believe in ourselves … that we could accomplish anything we set out to do, but always with grace and respect for ourselves and others.”

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

We don’t do any direct business with an insurer. We currently work with two brokerage firms in Canada.

R&I: Is the contingent commission controversy overblown?

I was RIMS president when this controversy arose and it was a significant issue on our agenda. I was even invited to meet with Greg Serio [former New York State Superintendent for Insurance] to discuss RIMS’ position. Overblown? Perhaps, but it’s a risk manager’s job to examine, question and seek required solutions.


R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

I have had the benefit of a number of mentors throughout my career. However, my mother has been my greatest influence.

She is 90 years young and from being born in a log cabin, has lived through many “risks” in her lifetime including: losing two homes to fire, experiencing the depression, and at the age of 16 worked in a gun manufacturing factory in Toronto during the war.

She raised us to believe in ourselves … that we could accomplish anything we set out to do, but always with grace and respect for ourselves and others.

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

I am so fortunate to have two amazing daughters who have grown to be women in their own right. I am so very proud of them both.

R&I: How many emails do you get in a day?

I have been dubbed the “Email Queen.” Ranges from 20 to 100+ depending on the day.

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

Watching “Despicable Me” (or any movie) with my grandchildren. It is always such a treat to watch their faces and hear their laughter.

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

The French restaurant at Sandals Royal Plantation in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

R&I: What is your favorite drink?

Non-Alcoholic – Starbucks Latte
Alcoholic – Blood Orange Cosmopolitan

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

While RIMS president, I had the good fortune to travel quite extensively and visit many unusual/interesting places. If I have to choose, it would be Japan first, with Tasmania as a close second.


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

Most recently, climbing a waterfall while on vacation.

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

Parents have always been heroes and now more than ever. Children are living in an ever-changing, much faster-paced world. While faced with the same challenges as their parents were, children face them now at a much younger age. There is a tough life/work balance for parents to maintain.

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

What other professional gets to be involved with every aspect of their company? Every day there is some new question or challenge to keep you engaged, help you keep a fresh perspective on risk, and prompt you to learn and to grow. I love that!

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]