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New RIMS President Luthi sets agenda

New RIMS President Luthi sets agenda

As Deborah M. Luthi begins her year as 2012 president of the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc., she expects her tenure to be guided by the “three Rs”: relationships, relevancy and reach.

Those guiding principles come from work the board of New York-based RIMS has been doing during the past year and a half to refocus the society's approach to meeting its mission of advancing risk management and RIMS members' success, said Ms. Luthi, enterprise risk manager for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

With regard to the first “R,” Ms. Luthi stressed the importance of relationships between the society and its members and industry partners—and between members themselves—in meeting RIMS' mission. With that in mind, her presidency “really will be a time of relationship building,” she said.

As for the second “R”—relevancy—Ms. Luthi said her year as RIMS president “will be a time, too, of helping define who is a risk practitioner today.” With other areas of organizations such as audit, security and compliance joining risk managers in addressing risk, Ms. Luthi said it's important that RIMS reach out to practitioners in those areas as well.

Addressing the third “R”—reach—will involve “raising the profile of RIMS and risk practitioners,” Ms. Luthi said, something she envisions the society doing through geographical expansion, political advocacy, media outreach and “even in the digital realm.”

In that digital realm, Ms. Luthi said she believes RIMS has done a “fantastic job” thus far with its Twitter feed, Facebook page, blog and online forums. But with social media playing an increasing role in personal and professional lives, the organization will continue to explore ways to meet the digital information needs of its members.

“I'm going to learn how to tweet,” she said.

Ms. Luthi has been a RIMS member for nearly 32 years. She served on the New York-based society's board for 11 years and has been vp and board liaison to RIMS' Finance Committee and Spencer Educational Foundation Committee. She is a member of RIMS' Golden Gate chapter as well as the Sacramento Valley chapter, which she co-founded in 1991.

The new RIMS president began her professional career as a teacher.

“During the summer I went to work for a Fortune 500 company in the personnel department,” she said. “They wanted me to stay, and I said, "No, I'm a teacher.'” But when she asked what sort of positions might be available, she was told about a job in the risk management department, though there was an initial misunderstanding. “I said, "Mismanagement? There's a mismanagement department?'” she recalled. “And from that, a career was born.”

Ms. Luthi credits her association with RIMS with helping her advance her risk management career. “I would say I would not be where I am at all in my career if it weren't for RIMS, and I've always said that through all those years of volunteering I got more from it than I ever gave to it,” she said.

RIMS' effort to “go back to basics” in re-examining how to best meet its mission and serve its members “brings some real consistency and real focus for the staff of RIMS, the board of RIMS—and hopefully our members and our partners will benefit from our being really focused,” Ms. Luthi said.

She's eager to share information about that new focus when the society's members gather in April for RIMS' annual conference in Philadelphia.

“For me, it will be an opportunity to meet with our members and share with them the work that our board and RIMS staff have done,” Ms. Luthi said.

“I think it's really important to keep in front of everyone that the RIMS board are practicing risk managers,” she said. And, in the society's refocusing exercise, “RIMS is practicing strategic risk management,” Ms. Luthi said. “I think it's a great story to tell our members.”