Susan Hiteshew Discusses the Value of Being ‘In The Club’

Susan HiteshewSusan Hiteshew, ARM, RIMS-CRMP, is one of the most passionate RIMS members you are likely to meet. A RIMS board member and frequent presenter at society events, the self-professed “insurance nerd” jumped at the opportunity to take the RIMS-CRMP exam when it launched in 2016.

RIMS sat down with Hiteshew, Marriott International’s Sr. Director of Insurance - America, to discuss how the RIMS-CRMP has enhanced her career.


RIMS: What inspired you to take the RIMS-CRMP? 

Hiteshew: I know it sounds funny, but I’m enthusiastic about insurance. But I was most excited about this certification because it's backed by RIMS, which was really meaningful to me. I knew it would become a well-known certification because RIMS is so important to our industry and everyone who works in the profession interacts with the Society in some capacity.  

I took the test when it was first administered in San Diego at the RIMS 2016 annual conference. Some of it was also timing—it was convenient to take it at RIMS and added to the value of the conference for me.


RIMS: What sort of encouragement did you have from your employer at the time?

Hiteshew: I was at Under Armour back then and the company was incredibly supportive. I think upper management saw it as a valuable spend of time and also as an asset to be able to say that we have this certification within our group, because there is a lot of credibility and respect that comes with the CRMP.


RIMS: How has it impacted your current role at Marriott? 

Hiteshew: As it happens, I'm not the only one who has the certification at Marriott. We have a pretty large risk management group and there are others within it who have the RIMS-CRMP. We have some newer people, too, who are now studying for it because they see the value we’re getting from it. We are talking about starting a little study group here to help them prepare for the exam.


RIMS: What are some of the career benefits for CRMP holders?

Hiteshew: Now that the RIMS-CRMP has been around for several years, it is becoming a common requirement in many job descriptions. That demonstrates its notoriety.

You want to be able to say that, not only are you very technically strong, but you're also keeping up with the profession as it evolves. I think the certification is evidence of that and that the profession has well-qualified individuals in their roles and that helps shape their stories. 


RIMS: What were your study methods?

Hiteshew: I studied for about two months through a combination of online courses and by reading a lot of books on the study guide. I completed many of the books by listening to them as audiobooks during my lengthy commutes. I would make my own notes on a dictation app, too and wrap them all up before the work day started.  

The online format of the RIMS study resources is very user-friendly. Also, there are groups within the Opis-Ed for RIMS members so you can communicate with people to raise issues and ask questions and get feedback. What I love about the certification is you can really prepare for it in a number of different ways, in the timeframe you’re given, and still be very successful.


RIMS: RIMS-CRMP holders need to recertify every two years to maintain the designation. How would you characterize its process?

Hiteshew: The recertification process is actually quite simple. The offerings for continuing education are on RIMS.org, like attending webinars. But there are certain methods of RIMS involvement at the local chapter level count. And even efforts like authoring a white paper or Risk Management magazine or blog articles that also count.  

What’s also interesting is that events and projects that qualify are oftentimes things you might have already done or plan to do. For example, if you attend a RIMS conference and attend a bunch of sessions—as long as the door person scans you in—that will contribute to your credits. You can earn credits while also attending other RIMS conferences, like the ERM conference or Risktech.


RIMS: Are there job functions that also count toward recertification?

Hiteshew: Yes. A lot of what we do in risk management is pretty specialized and internal presentations within your company count toward recertification. This was great for me, because I frequently present within Marriott to teach people about what the risk management department does, how it helps the business, why it matters and where we need to have a seat at the table. That internal work within my company all counts.


RIMS: What are some benefits, in addition to the professional recognition, to earning the CRMP?

Hiteshew: The access to special networking opportunities can be invaluable. During the RIMS annual conference, there is a special cocktail reception on one of the first nights. Everyone’s already there and it’s very convenient. You get face time with some of the brightest minds in the profession and a chance to forge and strengthen those special relationships.

There is something to be said for being in the club. 

Interview by Justin Smulison, RIMS Business Content Manager