Hundreds attend RISC trends conference prior to pandemic closings
Snead Hall auditorium was packed with insurance industry professionals and business students on March 10 as the VCU School of Business hosted its 14th annual RISC Trends Conference “Get a Grip on Risk.” Just one day later, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, and, immediately, VCU and other universities and businesses began shutting their doors and moving to strictly online engagements.
Event attracts hundreds to Richmond, an insurance hub
Robert Taylor, executive director of VCU’s Risk and Insurance Studies Center, thanked conference sponsors, including Markel, and welcomed more than 200 participants, panelists and students.
“When people come to a school of business, they think of accounting, marketing and finance. They don’t often think of insurance or risk management,” said Taylor, following the event. “This program has been around since the early 1970s but people are still amazed to see that VCU hosts this type of event and has this kind of community support.”
“Our Risk Management and Insurance Program has very strong job placement results. Richmond has become somewhat of a hub for insurance. The industry is graying, companies are thinking about their succession plans, and there are so many opportunities for motivated students.”
Timely discussion of global and national risks
Keynote speaker Andrea Bonime-Blanc, CEO & Founder of GEC Risk Advisory, began her remarks noting that her airline had just notified her that it was reducing flights, possibly jeopardizing her return flight to New York. Yet, the conference continued and what would later be known as the final event on VCU grounds during the spring semester was deemed a success.
The importance of ethical leadership in uncertain times
In her incredibly timely keynote address, Bonime-Blanc, author of “Gloom to Boom – How Leaders Transform Risk into Resilence and Value,” outlined strategic environmental, social, governance and technological (ESGT) issues, risks and opportunities facing today’s companies and provided an roadmap to resilience and value protection and creation.
Other topics, speakers and panelists included:
- Circle of Influence – Kathy Weber of K Weber Consulting Group LLC
- Automobility / Shared Economy – Jose Heftye of Marsh
- Insurtech Panel – moderated by Rob Reynolds of Markel and featuring Virginia Mathurin of Markel, David Muddiman of Connexus Secure LLC, Jen Linton of Ferris Digital and Charles Merritt of Buddy
- High Risk: Entertainment – Brendan McMorrow and Lauren Brown of Kinsale
- Challenges and Perspectives of the Developing Marketplace – featuring panelists Kate Williams of Markel, Dimitri Devieux of USI, Lydia Britton of Capital One and Jeff Parker of Lansing Building Products
- Laws and Regulations / Ethics – Bob Bradshaw of Independent Insurance Agents of Virginia, Inc.
Students: “People will never stop needing insurance”
Madeline Lowry decided her freshman year to major in risk management and insurance. Now a junior, she is co-president of the VCU chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma, the international business fraternity for students pursuing careers in insurance, risk management and actuarial science. “I like math, business and economics, and I enjoy the analytical and dynamic sides of this industry. I was lucky to find something I really like so quickly.”
Lowry was most interested in the panel discussion on Insurtech. “The insurance industry has been little slower adapting to technology. It was great to get a holistic view of how technology is changing the business dynamic and how people are using technology to mitigate risk.”
“We gave up our spring break, but it’s worth it in the long run for our careers to be at that conference,” said Thomas Radford, co-president of Gamma Iota Sigma and also a junior majoring in risk management and insurance. “Richmond has become an insurance mecca and so many leading companies participated in this conference. Networking means a lot in the insurance industry. I met a bunch of people, collected a lot of business cards and contacts for future job opportunities.”
Radford learned about the major from his older sister who majored elsewhere in risk management and insurance. “I saw the opportunity she was getting and decided to try it out for myself, and I really enjoyed it. Students should have an open mind about the insurance industry. It’s an emerging industry and it changes all the time. People will never stop needing insurance.”