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Q&A: Barry Dillard of Walt Disney World Resort

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Barry Dillard serves on the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc.'s board and is the director of claims management for the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. There, Mr. Dillard, who is a member of RIMS' Central Florida chapter, leads a team of cast members who manage all aspects of the company's claims management program, including compliance operations, workers compensation and general disability claims. Mr. Dillard also teaches business management courses as an associate professor at the University of Phoenix. He received a bachelor of science in marketing from Hampton University and a master of business administration from Webster University. Mr. Dillard recently spoke with Business Insurance Senior Editor Mark A. Hofmann about his professional life and his service with RIMS. Edited excerpts follow.

Q: How did you get into claims management?

A: It wasn't my intention. I was graduating with a degree in marketing and fully intended to go into marketing, but an Aetna property/casualty representative came to my university. I introduced myself and, before I knew it, I ended up a claim representative for Aetna Casualty & Surety in Dallas.

Q: What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job at Disney?

A: When I think of the most challenging things, they are the things that keep me working here as well. It's the scale and scope of our business. We have theme parks, water parks, resort hotels, and we have more buses than the local transit authority. And all of this is on a property about the size of the city of San Francisco.

When I think about the rewarding part, it's that our teams do a great job taking care of our cast members and guests when they file a claim. It's rewarding having the privilege of leading these teams as they make a difference in people's lives.

Q: What have you learned from your students during your stints as an educator?

A: I teach mostly undergrad business management students who are adult learners. They bring their experiences to the classroom and give me different perspectives. And I do learn a lot from them — you can't teach and not learn.

Q: What can the claims management and risk management professions do to draw more young people into the field?

A: It's really just exposure. It's talking with universities to get more degree programs and courses added to curriculums and creating more internship opportunities. It's also exposing students earlier. At the high school level, students know what lawyers do and they know what other professions do, but they really don't know that much about what insurance professionals do.

Q: As a RIMS board member, what do you see as the major issues facing the organization?

A: One that strikes a chord with me is for us to continue to innovate. Organizations that stay static don't stay around. Our members' roles are constantly evolving, and our organization needs to lead the way for our members and the industry.

Q: What are you looking forward to at this year's conference in San Diego?

A: The conference has a lot to offer, particularly its educational opportunities. It's the one time of the year our partners, insurers, brokers and vendors are all in one place.