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Q&A: Julie C. Pemberton, Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc.

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Julie C. Pemberton was recently elected president of the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc. Chicago-based Ms. Pemberton, who is director of enterprise risk and insurance management for Bellevue, Washington-based Outerwall Inc., recently spoke with Business Insurance Senior Editor Mark A. Hofmann about RIMS' objectives. Edited excerpts follow.

Q: What are your top goals as RIMS president?

A: The No. 1 goal is to simply pursue our mission. RIMS has developed a new mission statement, and it is to educate, engage and advocate for the global risk management community. The objectives we outlined to achieve that mission are to ensure a stable and adaptable organizational structure, equip risk professionals so that they can succeed in an evolving environment and enhance the way we engage the broader risk management community, and to expand RIMS' influence worldwide.

Q: What important professional issues currently confront risk managers?

A: Information security and cyber risk would be at the top of that list. It is such a hot topic and specialty area of risk, and monitoring best practices, the regulatory environment and the insurance product space are ever-changing.

Q: What is RIMS doing to help its members better understand and mitigate this exposure?

A: We are featuring a lot of educational tracks in this area at our annual conference. We've also published our first RIMS cyber survey that measures how our members are managing and insuring their cyber exposures. Our external affairs committee is continuing to monitor and advocate around legislation in this area, and our magazine includes articles in every edition that discuss the nuances in this area.

Q: In addition to cyber, what other emerging risks are you looking to help risk managers with this year?

A: Globalization continues to be a focus and a challenge for risk professionals. Last year we held conferences in Dubai and in Peru. This year we're pursuing a China delegation and a risk forum in Bogota, Colombia, and likely in other international venues as well. We're focused on gaining understanding of risk management processes our global constituents are using, as well as challenges they may be experiencing and how we can fill the need.

In addition to globalization, another thing we're looking to support are the rising risk professionals, the next generation of risk managers. We have a NextGen Summit in June, and we are continuing to invest in our partnership with the Spencer Educational Foundation. We just approved $450,000 in funding over the next three years to support their programs.

Q: RIMS recently launched its new RIMS Certified Risk Management Professional certification. How has it been received?

A: We're having an overwhelmingly positive response to that. We're holding our first exam at the conference on April 10. Space is still available, but it's limited. We have a limit of 200 people who can take the test.

Q: What regulatory and legislative issues are you keeping an eye on?

A: We're definitely monitoring what Congress and the administration are going to do in the area of cyber risk and cyber security. Late last year, we worked with the (U.S. Treasury Department) to study the current markets around cyber risk. We're also monitoring the Neal bill, which would change the tax treatment of certain reinsurance transactions — it continues to come and go, and RIMS is opposed to it.

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

A: It's going to be an exciting conference. The keynote speakers are extraordinary this year. The topics — 3-D printing, how to spot deception and the psychology of illusion — are extremely relevant to risk managers.

We have 180 educational sessions, and the destination — San Diego — is probably one of our most popular spots. We're expecting a great turnout.