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Students get inside look at managing risks at SeaWorld

Students get inside look at managing risks at SeaWorld

College students learned about SeaWorld Entertainment Inc.'s risk management strategies during a behind-the-scenes tour of the company's San Diego theme park on Saturday.

About 40 students were invited by the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc. Student Advisory Council to participate in the tour of SeaWorld, which is home to killer whales, bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles and more.

Max Miller, a risk management and insurance and Spanish student at Florida State University in Tallahassee, said he enjoyed learning about the company's SEA Yourself Fit program, which aims to get employees focused on health and wellness.

“I like slogans like that,” Mr. Miller said. “I thought it was a fun way to make sure employees are always thinking about health and wellness because that reduces insurance costs and it makes a better company culture.”To retain employees, it's important to have a healthy workforce who knows they're “being taken care of,” Mr. Miller added.

Victor Tang, who also studies risk management and insurance at Florida State University, said he appreciated the “opportunity to see the risk management side of Sea World” and its loss control process for workers compensation.

Like Mr. Miller, Mr. Tang said he was interested in the company's focus on wellness, which apparently includes “yoga sessions with their whales and their dolphins.”

“It's all about utilizing your company's environment to incentivize your employees to practice a healthy lifestyle, and making it fun, Mr. Tang said. “That's the best way to implement a culture of health.”

It was SeaWorld's “environmental approach to risk” that piqued the interest of Natalie Baragas, who studies marketing, finance and risk management at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas.

Ms. Baragas said “it's really interesting how they're taking more of an environmental and conservative approach, especially after ('Blackfish').

"The 2013 documentary about captive killer whales like Tilikum, an orca associated with the deaths of three people, was not referenced during the tour, according to several students in attendance.

SeaWorld did not return requests for comments about the tour, but it previously called the documentary “inaccurate and misleading” in a statement to media outlets. They're putting the animals first, “which is something our generation really appreciates and it's beneficial for the risk side for SeaWorld,” Ms. Baragas said, adding that she's grateful for opportunities such as this one that help “open doors for our generation to branch out and learn more about the industry.”

New generationWith so many risk management professionals about to retire, she added, “we need our generation to step up and find better ways to handle risk.”

Stephen G. Fier, an assistant professor of insurance at the University of Mississippi in Oxford who accompanied students on the tour, said such events are “invaluable” to the students.

“These behind-the-scenes tours expose the students to some of the more unique risks associated with the host organization's operations and provide insight into how the risk managers actively work to address these risks,” Mr. Fier said. “The tours also demonstrate how the topics that are commonly discussed in the classroom are applied in the real world.”