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Relationships are key to honorees' success


Risk management is both art and science, but in large measure, succeeding at it requires the ability to cultivate and nurture relationships.

That is especially true of the honorees profiled in Business Insurance's annual Risk Manager of the Year issue. All four of these outstanding professionals have created successful programs to mitigate and control the risks their organizations face. Key to their success has been the relationships they have built—with co-workers, supervisors and strategic partners.

For example, the 2007 Risk Manager of the Year, Lance J. Ewing, vp-risk management at Harrah's Entertainment Inc., has an unusual dual-broker arrangement. Memphis, Tenn.-based Harrah's uses Beecher Carlson Holdings Inc. for its casualty exposures and Willis Group Holdings Ltd. for its property risks. Left to its own, competition between the brokers might force one out of the picture. But Mr. Ewing carefully structured the relationship so that both brokers must cooperate to best serve Harrah's. As a result, neither broker is a threat to the other, and Harrah's gains the benefit of having two advocates watching out for it.

In addition to his creative use of broker resources, Mr. Ewing leveraged his relationships with underwriters on Harrah's programs to win favorable coverage and settle the gaming and entertainment company's mammoth claims from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Members of the 2007 Risk Management Honor Roll also know how to develop and maintain key relationships.

Carol Arendall, director-risk management of OfficeMax Inc. in Naperville, Ill., relied on existing relationships and created new ones in building OfficeMax's risk management program from scratch. Developing a team to understand and manage effectively the office products company's risks took skill, and Ms. Arendall and others credit her ability to listen as a critical factor. Gaining perspective helped her to ensure clear communication.

Scott B. Clark, risk and benefits officer for Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the nation's fourth-largest school district, uses a collaborative approach to administering the programs that protect more than 360,000 children, faculty and staff. His skill in tapping others' expertise to support his vision for the south Florida school district has helped achieve ambitious goals while meeting the public entity's strict budget requirements.

Warren Perkins, vp-risk manager at Boh Bros. Construction Co. L.L.C., has long held a place of trust in the family-owned construction company in New Orleans. He faced innumerable challenges after Hurricane Katrina not only damaged his home but also much of his company's operations and his city. Quickly getting Boh Bros. back in business helped New Orleans to begin rebuilding. Mr. Perkins' talents also were tapped to promote the city's prospects to insurance underwriters around the United States and in London and secure continued capacity for businesses operating there.

Business Insurance proudly salutes the 2007 Risk Manager of the Year and the members of the 2007 Risk Management Honor Roll. To learn more about their remarkable stories, read the profiles beginning on page 10.