Cultivating Hearts and Minds
While most people were relaxing in the sun prior to the start of RIMS 2008, nearly 200 attendees volunteered their Sunday to renovate and beautify a local San Diego elementary school. “It was a phenomenal opportunity,” says Dana Newman, Principal Financial Analyst in Coca-Cola’s risk management department. “There’s a lot to learn professionally here at RIMS in San Diego, but I think it’s great that RIMS does this event to give back to the community.”
Located in a disadvantaged community in the Barrio Logan neighborhood, the King Chavez Academy Charter School has struggled at times to provide its students with a peaceful environment conducive to learning. In particular, one alleyway adjacent to the school has been a problem. Trash often accumulates, homeless people gather and the nearby walls have to be repainted frequently due to rampant graffiti.
“Unfortunately, the kids are subjected to this on a near-daily basis,” says Jesse Jimenez, Counselor at King Chavez Academy. “My vision was to create a Zen-like garden with meandering paths that would provide a better environment for the kids and block that view to the outside.”
The attendees gathered at 8:00 am and headed to the Aon-sponsored event, where they began the beautification process. Led by members of Volunteer San Diego, the attendees planted the garden, constructed a granite pathway, built flower boxes, trimmed hedges, weeded the grounds and even painted a mural.
“I helped with the Katrina cleanup last year and was excited to do it again,” says Lauren Leggett, an insurance major at Illinois State University’s Katie School of Insurance and Financial Services. “This year, we’re really right out in the middle of the community and you can really see the results immediately.”
For Aon, the opportunity to participate again was a no-brainer. “Aon and RIMS both have the character to do this,” says Philip Clement, Chief Marketing Officer at Aon. “Community Service Day represents the best thing we could be doing.”
On behalf of its 400 Conference speakers, RIMS made a $10,000 donation to the Monarch School, a local school that provides accredited education programs and a stable environment to homeless and at-risk youth. The gift will support the After School Program, which includes karate, tennis, dance, music, drawing and painting classes. “We are truly grateful to receive this donation from RIMS,” says Sarita Fuentes, Principal and CEO for the Monarch School. “This donation will help Monarch School make a positive difference and give our students a chance to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness.”
Interview with Janice Ochenkowski
Janice Ochenkowski, ARM, is the current president of RIMS. She is also Managing Director at Jones Lang LaSalle, one of the world’s leading real estate management and financial services firms, where she is responsible for the company’s global risk management. Previously, Janice has served on the Society’s Board of Directors and participated on Committees and Task Forces at both the Society and Chapter level. As Janice begins the final leg of her presidency, we asked for her thoughts on the state of the risk management discipline and where it might be headed.
You have been the President of RIMS at a very interesting time for risk managers. What is the biggest issue facing the discipline of risk management as you finish your term, and as you continue to manage risk afterwards?
It is an evolutionary time for risk managers. As any position evolves, the changes in the way the role is defined create opportunities for ambitious risk managers. I think the application of enterprise risk solutions on a corporate basis will continue to be a challenge and an opportunity for me and for many risk managers.
Risk management has become an increasingly mainstream business concern in recent years. However different people define the discipline differently—as operational, financial, credit, etc. Are there really such significant differences in risk management?
I think the answer to whether they’re different or not is both “yes” and “no.” There are common factors in all types of risk, and common tools to assess risk, whatever it is. Once that’s done, however, things start diverging. Different risks require different strategies and techniques to manage them. And those different processes require differing analytical tools. Some risks shouldn’t be avoided, so for those risks, we have to monitor the level of risk assumed so it remains within acceptable parameters. Other types of risk are easily avoided or should be transferred. So, different types of programs are needed to address them. And of course, having a skilled risk manager is what adds to the success of that program.
What is the one big challenge that risk managers have not quite addressed yet, and how can RIMS help them address it?
I think that defining ourselves in this new risk environment is something that continues to evolve. The new Risk Management Professional Growth Model just released by the RIMS Quality Advisory Council is one of the ways that risk managers will be able to better define their role within their own organization and to prepare themselves for the position that they want to have. Now, that position can be to gain excellence within their current role or to position themselves to move into a new job, either with the same or a different employer. So RIMS will play a vital role in helping to define the new role of the risk manager.
A new generation of professionals is entering the discipline with advanced degrees in risk management. How do you see these new risk managers shaping the discipline? What will risk management look like 10 or 15 years from now?
I think many in my generation are envious of the opportunities available to risk managers now entering the field. As you point out, they are better educated and more focused on risk management as a career. The position of risk manager is now viewed more positively by corporations, so it is possible to climb a little higher on the corporate ladder. And I have to say that my crystal ball is a little cloudy today, so I can’t forecast exactly what risk management will be in the future, but I do predict that it will continue to be an exciting and challenging career opportunity. And RIMS will play an important part in keeping risk managers educated and involved in the discipline.