R&I: What was your first job?
I was trained as an accountant, worked in public accounting and became a CPA.
Being comfortable with numbers is helpful in my current role, and obviously, the
language of business is financial statements, so it helps.
R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?
Working in finance in the corporate environment included the review of budgets
and the analysis of business expenses. I quickly found the area of benefits and
insurance — and how “accepting risk” impacted
those expenses — to be fascinating. I asked a
lot of questions. Be careful what you ask for
— I soon found myself responsible for those
insurance areas and haven’t looked back!
R&I: What is the risk management community doing
I have found the risk management community
to be a close-knit group, whether that’s
industry professionals, risk managers with other
companies or support organizations like RIMS
and other regional groups. The expertise of
the carriers and specialty vendors to develop
new products and programs, along with the
appropriate education, will continue to be of
key importance to companies going forward.
R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk
management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?
As I’m sure many in the insurance field would agree, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
in 2005 changed our world and our industry. It was a particularly intense time
and certainly a baptism by fire for people like me who were relatively new to the
industry. This event clearly accelerated the switch to the acceptance of more risk,
which impacted mitigation strategies and programs.
R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?
The fast-paced threat that cyber security represents today. Our company, like
so many companies, is reliant upon computers, software and IT expertise in
our everyday existence. This new risk has forged an even stronger relationship
between risk management and our IT department as we work together to address
this growing threat.
Additionally, the shooting event in Las Vegas in 2017 will have an enduring
impact on firms that host large gatherings and arena-style events all over the
world, and our company is no exception.
R&I: What insurance carrier do you have the highest opinion of?
With the various types of insurance programs we employ, I have been fortunate
to work with most of the large national and international carriers — all of whom
employ talented people with a vast array of resources.
R&I: How much business do you do direct versus going through a broker?
We use brokers for many of our professional coverages, such as property, casualty,
D&O and cyber. We are self-insured under our health plans, with close to
25,000 members. We tend to manage those programs internally and utilize direct
relationships with carriers and specialty vendors to tailor a plan that works best for
R&I: Who is your mentor and why?
I have been fortunate to have worked alongside some smart and insightful people
during my career. A key piece of advice, said in many different ways, has served me
well. Simply stated: “Seek to understand before being understood.”
What this has meant to me is try everything you can to learn about something,
new or old. After you have gained this knowledge, you can begin to access and
maybe suggest changes or adjustments. Being curious has always been a personal
enjoyment for me in business, and I have
found people are more than willing to lend
a hand, offer information and advice — you
just need to ask. Building those alliances and
foundations of knowledge on a subject matter
makes tackling the future more exciting and
R&I: What have you accomplished that you are
Our benefit health plan is much more
than handing out an insurance card at the
beginning of the year. We encourage our
team members and their families to learn
about their personal health, get engaged in a
variety of health and wellness programs and
try to live life in the healthiest possible way.
The result of that is literally hundreds of
testimonials from our members every year on
how they have lost weight, changed their lifestyle and gotten off medications. It is
extremely rewarding and is a testament to [our] close-knit corporate culture.
R&I: What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at?
Some will remember the volcano eruption in Iceland in spring of 2010. I was
just finishing a week of meetings in London with Lloyd’s syndicates related
to our property insurance placement when the airspace in England and most
of northern Europe was shut down — no airplanes in or out! Flights were
ultimately canceled for the following five days. Therefore, with a few other
stranded visitors like myself, we experimented and tried out new restaurants every
day until we could leave. It was a very interesting time!
R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?
I am originally from Canada, and I played ice hockey from the time I was four
years old up until quite recently. Too many surgeries sadly forced my recent
R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?
That’s a funny one … I am a CPA working in the casino industry, doing insurance
and risk management, so neighbors and acquaintances think I either do tax returns
or they think I’m a blackjack dealer at the casino!
“Building those alliances and foundations of knowledge
on a subject matter makes tackling the future
more exciting and fruitful.”
The risk manager for Boyd Gaming Corp. says curiosity
keeps him engaged, and continual education will be the key
to managing emerging risks.
Vice President, Benefits and
Company: Boyd Gaming
Years in Risk Management: 22
Previous Position: Corporate
Finance and Treasury Department
Place of Birth: Canada
Alma Mater: University of San Diego, California
Degrees and Certifications:
MBA, Finance; Certified Public Accountant