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September 24, 2020

David Stills

Memphis-based global risk management executive, Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc.

Bentonville, Arkansas-based vice president, global risk management, Walmart Inc.

With the insurance market tightening across most, if not all, lines, this is a real adjustment period for insureds, insurers and brokers. Most professionals in our industry have not experienced a market shift like this during their careers. The market conditions should drive risk managers to be even more disciplined in their insurance purchases, to rely more on their companies’ balance sheets and to absorb volatility to a higher degree. Considering the factors that led to this market shift – and seeing very little positive change with some of these factors – I expect the market will continue to be constricted through 2021.

At the highest level, my goal is to help strengthen Sedgwick’s caring counts approach for client relations and customer service. All underlying goals will align with this mission, whether it is around global insurer relations, litigation strategy and practices or serving the needs of Sedgwick’s clients.

In addition to the tightening insurance market, we are clearly challenged by the impact of climate change and extreme weather conditions, an uncertain and evolving geopolitical environment, the COVID-19 impact to insurance and claims, and trends around verdicts across many lines of coverage. These issues will extend – and perhaps have already extended – the trajectory of market changes, resulting in less capacity, higher rates and constriction of terms/expansion of exclusions. I expect this to continue.

I first joined Walmart as an attorney, with leadership responsibility for its portfolio of litigated tort matters in the United States. I had an excellent team of in-house counsel and paraprofessionals; in total, it was a team of about 30. When I was promoted to vice president, global risk management, my first risk management role, I suddenly had responsibility for a team of 700 people, with global responsibilities on the insurance side. I quickly learned how much I didn’t know. This began a crash course in leadership and risk management that has continued my entire career. Luckily, I had really good teams who, often through trial and error, helped me develop as a leader and risk manager.

My advice starts with the quote, “If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.” I translate this quote as highlighting the importance of surrounding yourself with really smart people, fostering an environment where inclusion of ideas is encouraged and embraced, and genuinely and openly listening to your team and others.

I have a “farm” in rural northwest Arkansas that I call Bug Scuffle Rattlesnake Ranch – it says so right there on the gate. It’s mostly pastures, trees and lots of rough terrain. My dream job would be to farm the land – raise cattle, till the soil, raise a crop, etc. This is where I will land post-retirement when I have less need to actually make a living.


I am most looking forward to learning more about Sedgwick’s clients’ businesses and particularly their needs in risk management and claims – and helping them craft solutions. As our clients have dealt with the challenges of 2020, Sedgwick has responded with agility and options. COVID-19 concerns have been met with back-to-business solutions. Limitations to in-person care have led to an increase in supportive virtual channels like nurse lines and telemedicine. A swift uptick in at-home work has been met with ergonomics guidance and cyber liability resources. Challenges tied to weather-related disasters during the pandemic have been abated through remote technology and a scalable, flexible team in the field. This spirit of adaptability and willingness to experiment – within an organization that has the global resources to get things done – is very exciting to become a part of.


Outside the books I read with my four-year-old son before bedtime, I like John Grisham’s earlier books.

Pretty well any activity that gets me outside, but probably tops would be time on the farm.

I don’t watch much TV, but I’m eagerly awaiting Season 4 of “Ozark” to see how Marty is going to get out of this mess.

Spend time with my family, preferably at the farm. Who wouldn’t enjoy a day on the Bug Scuffle Rattlesnake Ranch?