Monthly Archives: May 2015

Experiencing the Risk and Insurance Industry


Just one month ago I was in New Orleans attending the 2015 Risk and Insurance Management Society Annual Conference with Ferris State student Corey Bledsoe.  The conference featured engaging keynotes speakers such as Erik Wahl (pictured here) and Arianna Huffington, and numerous educational sessions and networking opportunities.  I asked Corey to share his thoughts about the RIMS experience from his perspective as a student:

Being able to attend and participate in the RIMS conference was an excellent opportunity for me as a student to experience the insurance industry on a much grander scale than what I get to experience in Big Rapids, MI.  Having companies from all over the country and even the world in one location is an experience I won’t soon forget.

I was able to tour the Superdome on my first day in New Orleans and it was cool getting to see how risk management played a part in helping the Superdome recover after hurricane Katrina.  I was able to hang out with other insurance students from around the country and see how their programs compared with ours here.  I knew many of the students there through the professional fraternity I am in, Gamma Iota Sigma. 

While at the conference I got to see inspirational keynote speakers like Erik Wahl, world-renowned speed painter and Simon Bailey.  After the speakers the exhibit hall would open up and thousands would flock to hundreds of exhibitors showcasing their products there.  As a student it was extremely overwhelming because I had no idea where to start.  Many exhibitors were aimed away from my demographic but it was still nice to see so many people involved in our industry.  The major thing that I took away from this conference is that the industry will be seeing a large part of its professionals retiring in the next few years.  This means that young people like myself will have ample room for growth and experience.

The most fulfilling thing for me was definitely the sessions that the conference offered.  I was lucky enough to be able to volunteer by introducing the CEO panel who were discussing claims and also discussing underwriting.  It was a great opportunity to hear more about what it’s like running a large multinational corporation and all of the things that go into making a company successful.  As an Anita Benedetti Scholar I was welcome to many of the events hosted by companies and even to FM Global’s yearly party that featured a performance by the band Foreigner.  I highly suggest that anyone interested in attending the RIMS conference apply next year for the scholarship as it will be in San Diego.  This conference is a great experience to learn more about the industry and connect with industry professionals from all over.  Having connections is a huge part of this industry and RIMS is an excellent place to do just that.

Corey’s experience attending the RIMS conference exemplifies the experiential learning opportunities that Ferris State strives to offer its students across many of its academic programs.  It is certainly one of my top goals for the risk management and insurance program.  Let’s face it, the risk and insurance industry doesn’t have much of a reputation as an exciting and dynamic career although those of us in the industry know otherwise.  We need to do more than tell our young students about the opportunities – we need to show them through experiential learning.  See you in San Diego in 2016!

Friday Fun


As I have written on several occasions in the past, the risk and insurance industry is facing a talent shortage.  It also happens to be facing an image problem as well, and the two situations are likely correlated.  So what can the industry do to overcome its image problem with college students and young professionals?  Well, for starters here is Liberty Mutual’s viral video to help young students prepare for job interviews, and perhaps simultaneously casting the insurance career option in a better light.

The Institutes offers another very helpful and comprehensive website, that includes fantastic resources (including videos) highlighting what a risk and insurance  career has to offer.  It includes a tool that maps your education and interests to the risk and insurance careers that may be the best fit.  There is internship information and a collection of enlightening and entertaining videos also available on the site.

As we begin the Memorial Day holiday weekend, have some fun.  Check out some of the videos that may change your perception of the risk and insurance industry.  Most of all, be safe as you celebrate this holiday weekend, and please remember and honor those have served and sacrificed to make our lives better.

Grading Scales


The Ferris State University semester concludes this week.  Exams are behind us, and now there is the all important matter of performance assessment, i.e., grading.  Today, I find myself reading and passing judgment on the semester’s concluding assignments from my students of my small business management and risk/insurance courses.  I’m taking a break from that activity to post a few general thoughts on the process.

The academic “A-F” grading scale has been with us for decades, and we’re conditioned to react to this subset of innocent alphabetic letters with an array of emotions.  We rejoice in “A” and dread the “F” with a spectrum of feelings in between.  We have even adopted the academic letter grade scale to various professional and entertainment pursuits.  Some Hollywood films are “A” and some are “F” – NFL teams receive letter grades for their draft performance – some companies even use the academic scale in employee evaluations.

As a society, we seem to have this ingrained desire to assess and classify performance on the basis of letter grades, that translate into grade point averages, and implicitly into some expectation regarding future performance.  Which leads me to two thoughts that I will leave you to ponder…

The oft-used phrase in financial prospectus documents may apply to grading scales as well:  “past performance is no guarantee of future results.”

I’m told that a diminishing number of companies consider an entry-level job applicant’s GPA anymore, so why do we continue to use this assessment system?

RIMS 2015


I just returned from New Orleans, host city for the 2015 Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS) conference.  Ferris State student Corey Bledsoe also attended the conference as an Anita Benedetti Scholar – I’ve asked Corey to share his impressions of the conference and will post his thoughts from a student’s perspective in the near future.  Today, I’d like to share a few observations of my own from the conference.

First, cyber risk is clearly the burning issue that is keeping risk managers awake at night.  Several informal surveys were taken in the exhibit hall and the results that I saw all pointed to cyber risk as the source of greatest concern.  I attended an educational session on Tuesday morning that focused on insuring the cyber risk exposure – it was standing room only.  I mean literally, standing room only and even standing room was scarce as risk professionals packed the back of the room, shoulder-to-shoulder, some even sitting on the floor.  In several years of attending RIMS conferences, I have never seen an educational session as well attended as that one.

Second, the industry is well aware of the “graying” of its practitioners.  As Corey will likely confirm, there were several events and conversations regarding the need to attract young talent to the risk and insurance profession.  A good portion of the folks I saw at the conference this year will be retiring in the next 5-8 years.

Third, there are vast risk and insurance implications coming from the evolving notion of autonomous automobiles.  In fact, we may not even own automobiles in the future, summoning an automated technological “carriage” to transport us as needed instead.  There were a few different sessions addressing technological evolutions such as this, and if you want to see General Motors’ vision of a potential future, check this out.  I am especially intrigued by the notion of roadways devoid of all traffic lights, though I cannot imagine the trepidation of cruising through one of these high-tech intersections inside one of those little carriages.  It’s not for the faint of heart!

Fourth, I wish I could paint like Erik Wahl who opened the conference on Monday morning with an engaging and interesting keynote address, complete with a 3-minute portrait of Bono.

There was so much more that I could share from RIMS 2015, but perhaps I will use those topics as launching points for future posts.  Great conference, great people, great city.  Enough said.