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RIMS 50th conference to focus on breaking down boundaries

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RIMS 50th conference to focus on breaking down boundaries

PHILADELPHIA—With its theme of “No Boundaries,” this year's 50th Anniversary Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc. Annual Conference & Exhibition speaks to the fact that risk isn't confined to just one department in most organizations.

The theme acknowledges other aspects of today's risk management profession as well, said Mary Roth, RIMS' executive director.

Today's risk managers face “fast-paced challenges in a constantly changing world,” she said. “Our member companies are operating globally, and things are changing globally.”

“And our risk professional members are called upon every day to stretch beyond the known and the familiar,” Ms. Roth said. “They're identifying and measuring risks they've never encountered before, and they're asked to take on new and more influential roles within their organizations. So there's no boundary within their roles and responsibilities, even within their entities.”

Attendees at this year's conference, set for April 15-18 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, also speak to that “No Boundaries” theme. The conference is expected to draw attendees from 53 countries outside the U.S. and Canada eager to tap the latest thinking on shaping successful risk management programs.

“Many of the risks our members face around the world transcend their national boundaries,” said Ms. Roth. “Bringing all these individuals together in one venue so that you can talk to your counterpart in another part of the world where you may be thinking about putting operations, or have operations where you might have had challenges, is worth the time spent at the annual conference.”

Over the course of more than 120 educational sessions, hot topics and keynote presentations at this year's gathering, RIMS conference attendees will have the opportunity to hone their risk management skills and network with colleagues and industry experts.

Networking opportunities start with Sunday evening's opening reception, include Tuesday's “Lunch and Learn” roundtables, and run through Wednesday night's battle of the bands.

Attendees also will have the opportunity to hear general session keynote presentations from Billy Beane, general manager of Major League Baseball's Oakland Athletics and the subject of the book “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game,” speaking April 16; and Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute and bestselling biographer whose works include the recent “Steve Jobs,” who will speak April 18 (see stories, page 12).

“We have a strong exhibit hall as well this year,” said Ms. Roth. Exhibit hall hours Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday will give conference attendees the opportunity to meet with hundreds of industry service providers. And RIMS is offering a Wednesday-only exhibit hall pass for those who might be in Philadelphia to do business with others at the conference but don't have time to get to sessions or other conference events during the week.

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The RIMS executive director said the society expects solid attendance numbers at this year's gathering.

“Attendance looks great. We're very pleased,” she said. “We've exceeded our Boston 2010 numbers as well as our Vancouver 2011 attendance.” And attendees include a strong student contingent, “the risk managers of tomorrow,” Ms. Roth said.

“What we're also seeing in the conference is a change in the profile of the conference attendee,” Ms. Roth said. “Individuals are coming from the (intellectual property) world, from audit, from supply chain, from other areas within our member companies.”

As the risk manager's role has expanded, risk managers have been given an opportunity to be more integrated within their organizations, and RIMS is working to give them the tools and knowledge they need to take advantage of those opportunities, the RIMS executive director said.

“As I looked at the top six sessions at the conference as far as registered attendees for those sessions, three of them are in the (enterprise risk management) or (strategic risk management) track,” Ms. Roth said. “Then there's the traditional sessions that people focus on as they are coming into this business, some claims issues, as well as insurance and some loss control.”

With the full schedule of events during the RIMS conference, planning is essential, Ms. Roth said. “There's not a waking moment that you're not doing something related to your business,” she said. “I always tell people who are coming for the first time that you have to plan in advance and you have to schedule.”

To help attendees navigate this year's conference, RIMS is offering a mobile app providing live event updates, interactive floor maps, exhibitor information and more.

Considering the fact that this is the 50th RIMS annual conference, Ms. Roth said, “A lot has changed, I gather, since 1963 in New Orleans.”

“I think it just shows the evolution and the importance of this profession,” she said. “Way back when, it may not have been a very recognizable profession, but I think over the 50 years of the conference that has changed considerably.”

Since the first RIMS conference, the risk management profession has evolved from simply an insurance-buying function to a more prominent role increasingly integrated into organizations' strategies, Ms. Roth said.

“If you look at the content of the sessions over the years, you can see the evolution,” she said, as RIMS sought to serve members looking to navigate a changing landscape and manage risks more effectively. And, Ms. Roth said, “I think the conference will continue to fulfill those obligations 50 years from now.”