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OPINION: Risk manager bridges gap between corporate, line management

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RISK MANAGEMENT, almost by definition, requires a group effort. Risk managers and their staff have little chance of adequately addressing the myriad risks their organizations face without the support and cooperation of operational managers.

They may be able to act independently to put insurance in place to provide financial support when things go wrong, but risk managers have to corral the efforts of a much larger team to prevent things from going wrong in the first place.

Too often, though, risk management, like other centralized or corporate departments, is kept far from the main action at their organizations. Bridging that gap between corporate and line management can be the first crucial step in developing an enterprisewide approach to risk management.

In this issue of Business Insurance, we profile four individual risk managers from very different organizations who each, in their own way, pulled off this feat.

John J. Marren, the 2012 Risk Manager of the Year®, came into an organization that already saw the value of risk management, but it was through his efforts that CSL Ltd. and its operating units moved from a fragmented program to a coordinated risk management program built around the daily efforts of operational managers.

Our 2012 Risk Management Honor Roll® members also have successfully taken risk management into the field.

Grace Crickette of the University of California has established an enterprise risk management program that is designed to enable students, faculty members and others to take on potentially risky assignments rather than simply avoid them.

Among other things, Julie DeSantis of Sony Corp. of America regularly takes on the task of ensuring that the exotic risks inherent in the videos that recording artists produce are adequately covered. For an entertainment company, curbing the creativity of its performers is seldom an option, so risk management must provide solutions rather than just raise red flags.

And John Pearce of Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd. has embedded risk management in his organization to the extent that the reach of his department is felt not only by Fonterra operating units but also by suppliers as he vets their continuity plans as a condition of doing business with Fonterra.

In conjunction with the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc., Business Insurance congratulates all of the 2012 honorees.