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University students face off in risk management challenge

University students face off in risk management challenge

SAN ANTONIO — The University of Wisconsin-Madison prevailed over 25 other university teams to claim the Spencer-RIMS Risk Management Challenge’s top honor Monday during the Risk and Insurance Management Society Inc.’s annual conference in San Antonio.

The teams had competed based on solutions they developed in a case study provided by the Sage Foundation. The foundation was established by The Sage Group P.L.C., a Newcastle upon Tyne, England-based information technology and services firm, to build sustainable, social, economic and entrepreneurial opportunities in local communities.

Members of the winning team were Becky Cacioppo, Taryn Otto, Cassandra Ring, Cameron Rowe and academic adviser Carl Barlett.

Eight university teams of the original 26 were chosen to compete at the RIMS conference, and three finalist teams were selected after the first round of presentations on Sunday.

In addition to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, they included 2017 winner St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, which placed second; and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, which took third place. The three teams had presented their final presentations earlier Monday.

The award was presented during a reception sponsored by the New York-based Spencer Educational Foundation Inc. by Andrew Bent, Sage’s Atlanta-based risk manager.

Mr. Bent said the Sage Foundation helps support charities to advance women, young people and veterans. “All the research shows” these charities “are underrepresented when it comes to accessibility and availability of funding,” Mr. Bent said, and funding them has the greatest impact.

The RIMS-Spencer Risk Management Challenge, he said, provides the next generation of risk leaders with “an incredible forum to demonstrate their skills” as well as an opportunity to develop their presentation skills.

“Congratulations to everyone, no matter what the final results are,” said Mr. Bent. “You will follow this as you move forward into your careers. I saw a lot of passion over the last day and a half.”

Other finalists in the competition were the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Barnaby, Canada; Peking University in Beijing; St. Mary’s University in San Antonio; Temple University in Philadelphia; and Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

Zakia Phillips, chairwoman of the Spencer Educational Foundation, said during the ceremony that the foundation has awarded 79 scholarships totaling almost $400,000 in the past year, among other support.

Ms. Phillips also said honorees at Spencer’s Sept. 28 gala will be David Eslick, White Plains, New York-based chairman and CEO of Marsh & McLennan Agency L.L.C., a unit of Marsh L.L.C.; and Patrick J. Kinney, executive vice president of field management for Travelers Cos. Inc.

In addition, Ms. Phillips announced the $5,000 annual Elizabeth Meldrum Lisle Scholarship, which will be awarded for the first time in 2019.

Students who win the award must meet the foundation’s scholarship committee’s academic criteria, as well as be pursuing a major, minor or certificate in management information systems, technology, computer science or a similar discipline.

Ms. Lisle, who is funding the scholarship and is principal with Marietta, Georgia-based Silvient Risk Technology Consulting, said during the reception that she had been a three-time Spencer Scholar, in 1995, 1996 and 1997, at Georgia State University, majoring in risk management while working in information technology to put herself through college. “I have spent my entire career at the intersection of risk management and technology, so the new scholarship is designed for students who study both risk and technology,” she said.

Ms. Lisle said she learned about Spencer 23 years ago from one of her professors at Georgia State University while working full time and taking classes at night, and “the idea of a $5,000 scholarship seemed over the moon.”

“I could not have imagined how Spencer would impact my life and career” with the three scholarships, she said. “Our industry’s generosity and vision for risk management education changed the entire trajectory of my career.”

“I can never measure all the ways that Spencer and RIMS have touched my life, but I am delighted to be able to pass it forward for the next generation of Spencer students,” said Ms. Lisle.