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Betty P. Coulter
Director of Risk Management and Insurance
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
With years of experience in public sector risk management, Betty Coulter has strived to prepare the University of North Carolina at Charlotte for potential emergencies. Ms. Coulter, who joined the UNC staff in January 2012, previously spent seven years as the risk manager for the city of Asheville, N.C., and eight years as the risk manager for Catawba County, N.C. Using background from those positions, Ms. Coulter has helped UNC seek funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management to aid the university with flooding hazards on the campus. In addition to her university role, Ms. Coulter is the president-elect of the Public Risk Management Association and has served as a PRIMA board member since 2010.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN ENTERING THIS FIELD?
For those entering the risk management field, I would say be prepared and engaged in those issues that are … emerging areas of risk management and insurance. And always reach out for continuous learning opportunities.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE RECEIVED IN YOUR LIFE?
Always have a backup plan. Sometimes we think that we have things that are planned and … you never know what may happen. So you always need to be prepared and have another plan to move seamlessly through what challenges you might have.
It is a very interesting field, and it provides outstanding career opportunities for all types of professionals with a variety of talents and training. I think it provides opportunities not only for risk managers, but for attorneys, for safety, for engineering, for (information technology), underwriting, claims management. It’s just such a broad industry, so you can get into the insurance industry and not necessarily be an insurance professional.
WHAT’S THE NEXT MAJOR CHALLENGE IN YOUR BUSINESS SECTOR?
For a university, we have a lot of challenges that, a lot of times, are out of our control. So I think preparing our campus community to be able to respond to those issues … creates the most concern. Of course, security is one of those. IT/cyber stability is another … To develop a viable (enterprise risk management) plan for our campus and providing all the training associated with that is the most challenging thing, I think, in the university business sector is today.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELIEVE STRESS?
I cook, or I do a home improvement project. I love Home Depot. When I’m stressed, I walk through there and look at tile … Or I bake a cake.
WHAT’S YOUR SECRET VICE?
I love to sing. I sing for a lot of people ... I do a lot of patriotic music. I’ll sing at ball games or special functions, or of course in church.
WHAT SKILL HAS BEEN AN UNEXPECTED AID TO YOUR CAREER?
Serving on a school board has provided me a skill set that has broadened my scope when dealing with people and responding to crisis events. When you look at holistic-type issues and how one decision impacts another group, serving a school board has just broadened my flexibility. It’s broadened my scope.
WHAT’S AT THE TOP OF YOUR BUCKET LIST?
Professionally, (it) would be … going to law school and completing a law degree. Personally, it’s always to make a difference in someone else’s life, because there are people who have made differences in my life and I want to be able to do that for others.
Business Insurance's annual Women to Watch feature recognizes women doing outstanding work in insurance, risk management, employee benefits and related fields.