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CSL's John J. Marren is Risk Manager of the Year®

CSL's John J. Marren is Risk Manager of the Year®

At CSL Behring L.L.C. and its parent, CSL Ltd., the process of addressing risk begins with risk management. Insurance is clearly secondary.

As director, global risk and insurance management at CSL Behring L.L.C. in King of Prussia, Pa., and its Parkville, Australia-based parent, CSL Ltd., John J. Marren feels fortunate to be part of an organization that values risk management. As he sees it, his role is to make the company's risk management process better.

“There's support for the deployment of risk management at all levels of CSL, which is refreshing for someone like me,” said Mr. Marren. “I know that in a lot of companies, it's a struggle to get the support for the things that you think are important to do from a risk management perspective.”

“I was kind of fortunate to walk into a situation where it was already valued and got the opportunity to make it better,” he said.

Capitalizing on that opportunity through numerous initiatives that have, in fact, made CSL's risk management process better has led to Mr. Marren's selection as Business Insurance's 2012 Risk Manager of the Year®.

Among Mr. Marren's achievements is the development of a companywide operational risk framework that establishes a common language of risk across the organization. He's also led an effort to map the value stream of company operations, enabling the plasma-derived therapies and vaccines manufacturer to quantify the impact of disruptions at various sites. He's globalized the company's insurance program, and has instituted an annual risk management conference for company leaders to help continue driving the alignment of the risk management approach companywide.

“He inherited a difficult program because it was very fragmented,” said Gregory A. Boss, group general counsel at CSL Group, to whom Mr. Marren reports. “He was charged with bringing it all together, and he's done a good job of making sense out of a program that was...fragmented and there wasn't a lot of communication or alignment of strategies.”

“He's essentially been working on all this for years and it's timely because he's brought most of it together this year or last year,” Mr. Boss said. “Now we're looking at what the future is going to bring based on what we think is a pretty good, aligned strategy now.”

“I've been in pharmaceuticals for 31 years,” said Paul R. Perreault, president of CSL Behring. “I've seen companies really struggle because they weren't managing risk appropriately.”

The process is really one of consistency, Mr. Perreault said. “If you don't have a holistic approach, you can miss something quite easily,” he said. “It's all about managing it, not over-managing it.”

“Without a doubt, from the board on down—all the senior management—they embrace risk management,” said Jack Bodden, Philadelphia-based managing director, global risk management at Marsh Inc., said of CSL and its approach to risk management.

“To the extent that insurance is involved, that's only affected after they've made decisions about what their risk appetite is, what their risk tolerance is, what they can afford to lose, what they don't want to lose,” he said.

“I kind of wear three hats, actually,” Mr. Marren said describing the position that he's held at CSL since he joined in 2007.

The responsibilities include corporate insurance—”everything other than employee benefits”—as well as structuring CSL's insurance programs and taking them to market.

“Obviously ancillary to that is being involved with the risk engineering, making sure that gets done where we need it to, and that information gets put into the hands of our insurers,” he said.

“The other part of my job, and probably the biggest part of my job, is having responsibility for the risk management process, as we refer to it here,” Mr. Marren said.

That process is decentralized at CSL, with operational leaders taking responsibility for managing risks and Mr. Marren coordinating and guiding those activities.

Doing so means working closely with various company operations.

“When we go through our risk management program, insurance is not considered as a control for managing risk,” Mr. Marren said. “All the considerations in our risk management process for risks and their management are based on operational-type controls.”

“John actually worked with me and the team in setting up our initial risk process,” said Ted H. Kanigowski III, senior director of finance, commercial operations at CSL Behring, who serves as global risk coordinator for the company's commercial operations. “He's a really good sounding board and kind of helped us with keeping us on the straight and narrow and helping keep it fresh.”


Margarete M. Emery, analyst, insurance and risk management at CSL Behring, calls Mr. Marren “probably the best boss I've ever had,” and said she sees her role in the two-person insurance and risk management department as not only supporting Mr. Marren but helping to enhance the role of risk management in the company whenever possible.

“Generally, I think that falls on very receptive ears and I think part of that is the groundwork he set,” Ms. Emery said.

Looking at CSL's role as a global leader in the manufacture of human plasma-derived protein therapies and vaccines, Mr. Marren said it's important as the company's risk manager to understand just what it is CSL does.

“I think our business is unique; and I don't think it's unique insofar as it presents a difficult risk to the insurance business or we have risks that are difficult to manage,” he said. “But what we generally do for a living I think is unique in and of itself, such that for the risk manager it requires a fairly good understanding of what it is we do, how we do it.”

“I've invested a fair amount of time—particularly early on—trying to understand what it is we do for a living,” Mr. Marren said. “I try to understand how our business works so I can help them better identify and manage any risks or exposures to that business and try to sort out what tools I can bring that help them feel more comfortable from a risk perspective about the business that they run.”

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