Bright and early Sunday morning, I depart with four Ferris State RMI students to attend the 2017 RIMS Annual Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I confess that at this stage of my career – having endured 30 years of planes, trains, and automobiles – business travel has little appeal to me. Yet, I am enthused to accompany four students to this very large and impressive industry event.
It’s difficult to convey the vast scope of the RMI industry within a classroom. Some things just have to be experienced and witnessed firsthand. The immensity of the RIMS conference, with its thousands of attendees and vast array of exhibitors that includes many household names of the insurance industry, certainly drives home the point with students. The educational sessions show the students that there is much more for them to learn and a cornucopia of career opportunities awaiting them.
My first RIMS conference was 26 years ago, and I still learn something new every year. I am truly excited for the opportunities awaiting my four students. I know that they will meet new and interesting professionals at the conference events, learn of concepts that will spark their interest, generate new ideas for their careers and personal ambitions, and yes, have some fun.
It’s going to be a great week and I will relish the opportunity to watch my students take it all in. It may even make the planes, trains, and automobiles tedium of business travel worthwhile. Maybe.
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!
The first full day of the 2014 RIMS Annual Conference is in the books, and it was a fantastic start. The opening breakfast session featured the real “Wolf of Wall Street,” Jordan Belfort as the keynote speaker. Belfort seemed genuinely remorseful for his past misdeeds, but then again, his self-proclaimed greatest skill is the ability to sell and persuade. Consequently, it is difficult to discern how much of his sentiment is genuine remorse and how much is sales/persuasion. Given the popularity of the movie that chronicles his business life and crimes, his audience seemed genuinely curious and engaged by his talk. Belfort attributed some of the 2008 financial meltdown to an over-reliance on models and automated underwriting of mortgage loans at the expense of human underwriting and common sense. This observation was particularly relevant to the insurance underwriters in attendance who see an increasing amount of automated underwriting and wonder how the insurance industry can strike a balance between the efficiency and consistency of automation with the common sense, experience, and discretion of human underwriting professionals.
After attendees perused the exhibit hall for a few hours, the awards luncheon bestowed well earned recognition on several risk management professionals, and brought inspirational leadership speaker Bonnie St. John to the stage. Ms. St. John shared her inspirational story of overcoming adversity through determination, persistence, and always aiming higher. She praised the room full of risk professionals for the work that is done to prevent and mitigate all of the incidents that never become major news stories because they never happen or have minimal impact.
The afternoon offered many educational sessions across a number of topics. One area that continues to build noticeable momentum is the concept of enterprise risk management which significantly broadens the view of risk as compared to traditional risk management. The last RIMS conference that I attended was in 2006, and I do not recall seeing nearly as many sessions and references to enterprise risk management as I have seen this year. Enterprise risk management expands the risk perspective beyond the typically insurable risks related to property and personal injury, and takes into account business risks related to strategy and reputation. It’s a welcome and logical evolution of the risk management profession, and one that Ferris State University stresses to its students.
Denver is known as the mile-high city, and recent political and legal events in the state of Colorado with regards to a certain controlled substance have given that identity an entirely new meaning. However, for the week of April 27 the focus in Denver is on the 2014 annual conference of the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS). I am pleased to be here in Denver to attend the conference, and even more happy to be accompanied by Ferris State student and graduating senior Ethan Henderson.
Ethan will soon be launching his commercial underwriting career shortly after graduation in May, and his attendance at the RIMS conference will provide him with many opportunities to expand his industry knowledge and connections. I will invite Ethan to share his impressions of the conference, as I will also share a few thoughts of my own from the conference. The larger point to make in this post is that Ferris State Risk Management and Insurance students will have opportunities for industry immersion in events such as RIMS over the months and years ahead. It’s one thing to learn about the industry in classrooms, textbooks and through research papers, but it is quite another matter to experience the industry firsthand. It is my hope that all Ferris students will avail themselves of industry events such as the RIMS conference in the future.