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2017 Women to Watch: Lisa Kerr

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Lisa Kerr
Vice president of risk management
Henry Schein Inc.
Melville, New York
Age: 44

An interest in international business and a desire to travel and experience other cultures led Lisa Kerr to accept an internship at Alexander & Alexander Services Inc. in the 1990s.

Little did she know that the internship would ultimately lead to the top risk management job at Henry Schein Inc., a global distributor of medical, dental and veterinary supplies.

In fact, Ms. Kerr created Henry Schein’s risk management department in 2004 when she joined the company as director of risk management after a career in insurance brokerage. When she started, the company operated in about 15 countries with sales of a little more than $4.5 billion.

It currently operates in 33 countries with sales of $11.6 billion.

She had to start from the ground up, find a staff with the right mix of complementary skill sets to handle all facets of risk management, “and above all create a team environment that keeps each member engaged in everyday work and supporting one another as a cohesive team,” she said.

“At the same time, I had to raise the profile of risk management beyond insurance procurement and a checks-and-balances function to a team that partners across the company to support the growth strategy,” she added.

Part of the challenge of her job is getting people to understand that the role of risk management is “not to say ‘no’ to growth activities, but rather to find a way to pursue these activities in the safest way possible,” she said.

To communicate that mission, she developed the slogan “Navigate Risk, Enable Success.” In addition, Ms. Kerr said she hopes “I am viewed as an unofficial mentor to the women I work with, both in and outside of my team and my company. I tend toward wanting to be a sounding board to women trying to find a way to advance in their own careers.” 

“It has been wonderful working with Lisa over the years — in the course of her career she has demonstrated leadership in not just the realm of risk management, but across her entire organization,” Aaron Shapiro, executive director at Origami Risk L.L.C. in Chicago, said in an email.

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