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As vp, risk management for one of the world's largest electronics and entertainment companies, Julie DeSantis manages broad, complex risks in an ever-changing business environment.
Responsible for overseeing and managing the global insurance programs for Sony Corp. of America, Ms. DeSantis' duties stretch across 13 Sony business units with operations in electronics, media, film, music, Web content, computer entertainment and gaming in 43 countries.
Her main responsibilities include the identification and analysis of business risks for the New York-based subsidiary of Sony Corp. and other business functions under that umbrella.
Those include the engineering, manufacturing, marketing and sales of various electronics; the company's manufacturing and packing of optical discs such as CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray Discs; recorded music operations; and the PlayStation family of products, among others—all of which represent more than $20 billion of Sony's annual $87 billion in operating revenues.
When she first joined Sony in 2003, Ms. DeSantis' top priority was centralizing Sony's diverse risk and insurance programs by securing the broadest terms and conditions possible to streamline hundreds of insurance policies, resulting in premium savings of $20 million over a five-year period (see related story). She works with four insurance brokerages, with Marsh Inc. supporting all of Sony's corporate insurance programs (see related story).
Ms. DeSantis' risk management knowledge, spanning 20 years, and her deep knowledge of Sony have directly impacted the company's bottom line, said Gary Podorowsky, New York-based senior vp at Sony.
“She's gained the confidence of the underwriters and very much of Marsh because she's really reached out to each of our business units and developed really good relationships with business units,” Mr. Podorowsky said.
This successful management of Sony's risk portfolio among a broad range of tasks earned Ms. DeSantis a place on Business Insurance's Risk Management Honor Roll® for 2012.
Ms. DeSantis' work experience with other Japanese companies during her risk management career helped sharpen her risk management skills to foster a collaborative approach to risk management.
“One of the things that makes Julie stand out in her profession is the ability to seek efficiency. She's very detail-oriented and process-driven, and I believe what she's been able to accomplish at Sony Corp. of America is to take a number of different programs and really drive efficiency across the broader spectrum,” said David J. Liston, managing director and New York metro partnership leader at Marsh in New York.
Across multiple business units, Ms. DeSantis said Sony's top five global risks are supply chain, cyber risks, entertainment-related risks, people and assets. With 2011's natural catastrophes in Japan and Thailand that disrupted supply chains, riots in the United Kingdom that caused property damage, and a massive cyber attack against Sony's gaming system, Ms. DeSantis and her team were put to the test (see related story).
“Julie continually deals effectively with a rapidly changing risk landscape driving challenging, often out-of-the-ordinary, risk exposures,” said Jonathan Thompson, London-based global client advocate at Willis Risk Solutions, a unit of broker Willis Group Holdings P.L.C. “These in turn create major insurance and claims issues impacting the group significantly at both national and global levels.”
The challenges of the role at Sony are what led Ms. DeSantis to accept the position at the company in 2003.
“Sony was just a great brand, and I thought it was an enormous company,” Ms. DeSantis said. “It had a diversified portfolio then, and it's even more diversified today. There was no way I could get bored in this job,” she said.
As Sony continues to grow, mergers and acquisitions also pose risks for Ms. DeSantis and her team, who worked on identifying risks and integrating insurance programs to include the recent $2.2 billion acquisition of EMI Music Publishing in November and game developer company Sucker Punch Productions L.L.C. in August, for an undisclosed amount.
Sony also entered the medical device arena with the acquisitions of electronic medical firms iCyt Mission Technology Inc. in 2010 and Micronics Inc. in September, adding life sciences to its risk profile.
“That's something new to all of us,” Ms. DeSantis said. “My staff, none of us came from a pharma background or life sciences, and so we have had to ramp up on our education over the last two years on that. Because there are different risks and different exposures, we're also trying to learn the insurance products that go with that as well and learn about those companies.”
In addition to addressing risk management and insurance programs for Sony, Ms. DeSantis also manages a risk management department with a full-time team of six and one part-time employee. The team handles all lines of business, from day-to-day administration to insurance negotiations.
“They support me on everything,” Ms. DeSantis said.
Managing Sony Corp. of America's entertainment exposures poses unique and interesting challenges for Julie DeSantis, vp, risk management.