By Dan Reynolds
Many of this year’s Risk All Stars possessed
the gumption to stand up for the right thing and
speak truth to power.
Being the only person to hold a particular opinion or point of view ithin an organization cannot be easy. Do the following sound like familiar stories? Can you picture yourself or one of your risk management colleagues as the hero or heroine? Or better yet, as a Risk & Insurance® Risk All Star? One risk manager took a job with a company that was being spun off, and the risk management program, which was built for a much larger company, was not a good fit for the spun-off company.
Rather than sink into inertia, this risk manager took the bull by the horns and
began an aggressive company intranet campaign to instill better safety and other risk
management practices throughout the organization.
The risk manager, 2017 Risk All Star Michelle Bennett of Cable One, also changed
some long-standing brokerage relationships that weren’t a good fit for the risk
management and insurance program. In her first year on the job she produced premium
savings and in her second year is in the process of introducing ERM company-wide.
Or perhaps this one rings a bell. The news is trickling out that a company is poised to
dramatically expand, increasing the workforce three- or four-fold. Having this knowledge
with certainty would be a great benefit to a risk manager, who could begin girding safety,
workers’ comp and related programs accordingly. But things sometimes don’t work that
way, do they? Sometimes the risk manager is one of the last people to know.
In the case of 2017 Risk All Star winner Steve Richards of the Coca-Cola Bottling
Company, the news of an expansion spurred him to action. He completely overhauled
the company’s workers’ compensation program and streamlined its claim management
system. The results, even with a much higher headcount, were reduced legal costs, better
return-to-work experiences for injured workers and a host of other improvements and
The Risk All Star Award recognizes at its core, creativity, perseverance and passion.
The 13 winners of this year’s award all displayed those traits in abundance. Sometimes it
took years for a particular risk solution, as promoted by a risk manager, to find acceptance.
In other cases a risk manager got so excited about a solution, they never even
considered getting turned down. They just kept pushing until they carried the day.
Butler University’s Zach Finn became obsessive about what he felt was a lackluster
effort on the part of the insurance industry to bring in new talent. The former risk
manager for the J.M. Smucker Co. settled on the creation of a student-run captive to give
his risk management students the experience they would need to get hired right out of
The result was a better risk management program for the university’s College of
Liberal Arts and Sciences, and immediate traction in the job market for Finn’s students.
A few of our Risk All Stars told us that the results they are achieving were decades
in the making. Only by year-in, year-out dedication to gaining transparency about her
co-op’s risks and learning more and more about her various insurance carriers, did
Growmark Inc.’s Faith Cring create a stalwart risk management and insurance program
that is the envy of the agricultural sector. Now she’s
been with some of her insurance carriers more than
20 years — some more than 30 years.
Having the right idea and not having a home for
it can be a lonely, frustrating experience. Having the
creativity, the passion and perhaps, most importantly,
the perseverance to see it through and get great
results makes you a Risk All Star.