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Monday, April 30

Monday, April 30 2007

Opening Ceremonies

RIMS Addresses Risk Management Priorities

With a stirring rendition of the National Anthem performed by the McDonough #35 High School Choir, led by Veronica Downs-Dorsey, RIMS Opening Session was underway. It was a moment that signified to attendees that after all of the hardships the residents of New Orleans have faced since 2005, the region is now on its way to recovery.

RIMS President Michael Liebowitz underscored the importance of hosting the conference in New Orleans. "Nowhere else can we learn as much about business continuity, crisis management, preparedness, health and personnel issues, and perhaps most importantly, how to recover in the aftermath of such a large-scale disaster," he said.

Liebowitz also talked about the role of the risk manager, joking about the self-assuredness of the profession. "When risk managers are right, they’ll always let you know they are entirely right. When risk managers are wrong, they'll always let you know they are mostly right," he said. "In a perfect world, risk managers would always be right, 100%, all the time. In a perfect world, we would have all the information we need up front. Unfortunately, that's not the world we live in, which is why the risk management function is key for businesses today."

In addition to crisis management issues, Liebowitz addressed the issue of quality—specifically contract certainty, timeliness, accuracy of policies, consistent expectations and other insurance transaction issues.

Enterprise risk management was also a focus for RIMS leadership. RIMS Executive Director Mary Roth spoke about RIMS efforts to further the practice of ERM. "When RIMS surveyed our 10,000-plus members about where they stand on ERM, some 60% replied that they don't know where to start when it comes to implementing an ERM program," she said. "RIMS has placed ERM at the top of the agenda."

The Reality of Pandemic Risk

On Monday morning, Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, delivered a sobering message about the potential repercussions of a global flu outbreak.

"It's not a matter of if, just when and where," he told attendees.

According to Osterholm, a severe outbreak with a just-in-time-delivery economy and the speed of worldwide transport could result in 90 million infected, 9 million needing hospitalization and 1.9 million deaths. Then there is "collateral damage" from inadequately equipped health care and food supply systems. Businesses would face decimated workforces and long-term closures.

"It is extremely important for us because if you're looking at being down for six months, we couldn't survive," said audience member Elizabeth Guimaraes of Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. "You can't just sit back and say: 'Well, I can't do anything about it.' I am hoping that the book he wrote will give us some other ideas."

Osterholm warned about the veracity of the numbers out there. "Most risk estimates that I have seen are just back-of-the-envelope numbers," he said.

He asked risk professionals not to succumb to "pandemic preparation fatigue" but to remain vigilant. He also urged them to consider the epidemic "ripple effect" in their economic models and provided resources to get them started.

"I don't know if we'll find a better speaker for the whole conference," said Denis Julien of AMCORE Bank N.A. in Rockford, Illinois. "There are lots of gems that I can take back."

Best of the Best

RIMS honored some of the risk management industry's leading luminaries at its annual Awards Presentation yesterday, showing once again how the RIMS community doesn't just talk about best practices, it puts them into action.

"I'd like to congratulate this year's award winners," said RIMS President Michael Liebowitz. "These are grand achievements, and I am honored to give recognition to your accomplishments and contributions."

The Arthur Quern Quality Award recognizes a risk management initiative that raises the quality of an organization’s products, services and enterprise risk management. This year, the award went to StructuredRisk, Inc. for developing risk management software that refines and improves construction best practices, and reverse engineers the construction defect litigation process.

The Ron Judd "Heart of RIMS" Award goes to an individual nominated by his or her chapter for outstanding performance for furthering risk management at the chapter level. The award's namesake, Ron Judd, served as RIMS executive director for 22 years, and the award itself reflects the admiration a chapter feels for one of its members. This year's winner is Mary Lynn Bangs, director of risk management for Omni Hotels Corporation. Bangs is a member of the RIMS Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter, where she serves as education chair.

Scott Lee, associate risk manager at Harrah's Entertainment, Inc., won this year’s Cristy Award, which goes to the individual who earned the highest marks on the three exams required to gain the Associate of Risk Management designation.

RIMS also honored the 33 participants in the Anita Benedetti Student Involvement Program, which recognizes outstanding students of risk and insurance management studies.

2006 Chapter Awards

  • Overall Chapter Excellence
    • Orange County
    • Palm Beach
    • San Diego
  • Outstanding Chapter Programming
    • Chesapeake
    • Greater Quad Cities
    • Houston
    • Minnesota
    • Orange County
    • Palm Beach
    • San Diego
    • South Texas
    • Chapters of Distinction: Oregon and Rocky Mountain
  • Advancing the Risk Management Profession
    • Dallas/Fort Worth
    • Hawaii
    • Orange County
    • Palm Beach
    • San Diego
    • Chapters of Distinction: Greater Quad Cities, South Texas, Houston and Rocky Mountain
  • Outstanding Member Services
    • Chesapeake
    • Dallas/Fort Worth
    • Greater Quad Cities
    • Orange County
    • Palm Beach
    • Rocky Mountain
    • San Diego
    • South Texas
    • Chapter of Distinction: Delaware Valley

Strengthening the Flood Plan

The Monday luncheon was highlighted by an address from David Maurstad, who serves as the director of FEMA’s Mitigation Division, and as federal insurance administrator. In his presentation, Maurstad detailed the lessons that can be learned from Hurricane Katrina, and how together we can help prevent similar disasters in the future.

"One of the lasting effects of Katrina is that we must now question the vulnerability of every residual structure behind a levee or a flood wall," said Maurstad.

FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program both play an integral role in spreading awareness of flood risk and initiating action for providing protection.

"Before disaster strikes, we have the opportunity to make decisions," said Maurstad. "They are decisions aimed at preventing the risk and protecting the citizens of this country… I believe protection is the work of all Americans."

As risk managers and involved RIMS members, Maurstad believes it is the people who attend this Conference that are truly and uniquely qualified for this mission. "I would urge all of you through RIMS and your local chapters to stress the necessity of preparedness," Maurstad said. "You have the credibility on this subject. You have the knowledge."

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