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RIMS 2015 conference preview: New Orleans

Posted On: Apr. 2, 2015 12:00 AM CST

RIMS 2015 conference preview: New Orleans

Cultivating young risk professionals will be one of the hallmarks of this year's Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc.'s annual conference in New Orleans.

The conference's theme — “New Innovations, New Encounters, New Knowledge, New Orleans” — is designed to both garner interest in the event and “to show that we're looking to the future,” RIMS 2015 President Richard Roberts said. “Part of our overarching work this year is to make RIMS more nimble and to move into new areas.”

Each aspect of this year's conference fits into that theme, Mr. Roberts said.

“New Innovations” includes an exhibit hall the size of about “four soccer pitches” or even a little bigger, he said, and RIMS is on target with about 400 exhibitors and a record number of new vendors participating.

“New Encounters” reflects the event's emphasis on networking, which is “probably the No. 1 reason to come to the conference,” said Mr. Roberts, who is director of risk management and employee benefits at Ensign-Bickford Industries Inc. in Simsbury, Connecticut.

“New Knowledge” includes 165 educational sessions, Mr. Roberts said. It also reflects that RIMS is “truly becoming an international organization,” he said, with more than 60 countries represented at the gathering.

And “New Orleans,” of course, emphasizes the conference's venue.

Professional engagement

Engaging rising risk professionals — not only students — is one of this year's goals, Mr. Roberts said.

“We do a great job of engaging students, but then there's a gap,” he said, noting that many risk management students find employment in brokerages or other organizations upon graduation before joining the ranks of risk management later in their careers. Rising risk professionals could be in their 30s, he said.

RIMS has created a “Rising Star Award” to recognize a person new to the profession who has demonstrated innovation. RIMS has received more than 20 recommendations for the award, Mr. Roberts said.

RIMS also will offer programs for students, including 30 Anita Benedetti Student Scholars selected from universities nationwide, during the conference. Mr. Roberts said that about 100 students will attend this year, and eight teams representing colleges and universities out of 26 submissions will compete in the annual RIMS Spencer Risk Management Challenge (see related story).

“The key thing for them is get out and about and pass out their cards and network with as many people as possible,” he said.

RIMS will have a new international lounge at this year's conference for attendees from outside North America to meet and share ideas.

He said he would be there to meet some of the international representatives.

The conference also will highlight a variety of emerging risks, he said.

Cyber riskis probably on everybody's mind,” he said. “There's still so many things that hit the news — all the big hacks. We're seeing it in the health care space. It's opening a whole new arena.”

Other emerging risks that will be discussed at the conference are the use of drones, the emergence of new service providers such as rideshare service Uber and the creation of new technologies such as 3-D printing, he said.

Mr. Roberts said the education sessions work out so that about one-third are “really kind of core,” another third are midrange to high-end topics and the remaining third focus on international or very specific areas.

“We focus on making sure we have good content for people new to the industry,” he said.

Attendees will hear from three featured speakers. Simon Bailey is a leadership expert who will tell listeners how to take the next step in their careers. Erik Wahl is an artist and business strategist who will talk about encouraging creativity.

The third speaker is Arianna Huffington, founder of the online Huffington Post and a political and social commentator. Mr. Roberts said her presentation will include a live question-and-answer session, in which she'll interact with both the audience and those following the speech online.

Risk management awards

This year, RIMS has partnered with Business Insurance for a Tuesday breakfast that honors the 2015 Risk Manager of the Year® Kathleen M. Ireland, vice president of global risk and insurance at IBM Corp., and the Risk Management Honor Roll®. The breakfast will include a state of the industry panel discussion.

And attendees can participate in events that take place after the conference formally ends on April 29. For example, attendees can register for an April 30 tour of the levees around New Orleans. And for those so inclined, there will be a walking culinary tour of New Orleans the same day.