Sara Girard, President Central National Bank Discusses Risk in Banking

By Alana McLain

Sara Girard, President of Central National Bank and a Kansas State University graduate, stopped by campus on November 8 to talk to Student Fellows about the risks facing banks today. Sara is the president of CNB, but has been with the bank since she started in 2005 as a marketing officer.

Central National Bank is one of the oldest banks in Kansas, chartered in 1884. They are also one of the top 10 largest banks in Kansas, with over $950 million in assets. Their conservative approach to banking has helped protect them through many financial crises, while their innovative thinking has allowed them to expand to 22 communities and implement leading technology. Sara mentioned many of the successes, and blunders, that the bank has seen during her time as an employee, including the launch of several Interactive Teller machines.

Banks must rely on their competitive advantages to set them apart. Some of the competitive advantages that CNB has are service excellence, product selection and quality, and service after the sale. These advantages have allowed CNB to grow and acquire smaller banks that cannot compete in today’s banking environment.


Sara highlighted several risk factors of banking including credit, interest rates, liquidity, price, operations, compliance, strategy, and reputation. Sara walked us through the many risk management strategies for these factors, the main ones being: effective policies and procedures, adherence to policies, portfolio diversification, stress testing, and research on customers. Some of the major blunders that CNB has faced are due to fraud, an underlying aspect of every risk factor mentioned, and not adhering to bank policies. However, due to their conservative approach, CNB was sheltered from large losses and didn’t suffer massive consequences from these mistakes.

Much of Sara’s daily work is devoted to assessing, managing, and evaluating risk, although CNB also has an Executive Vice President of Risk Management. The bank has quarterly and monthly risk management committee meetings that focus on setting short and long term goals for the bank and assessing their current risk positions. The riskiest factor facing the bank today is credit risk, which encompasses most of their liabilities. They are also working on making the bank chain more efficient, especially branches located in rural communities.

Sara provided great insight into Central National Bank’s risk management strategies and the risks facing the banking industry today. The Student Fellows enjoyed hearing from a former Kansas State graduate who holds such an influential position in managing risk.

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Koch Industries Guest Lecture: Risk Optimization

By Alex Reed

On September 27th, the Center for Risk Management Education and Research Student Fellows welcomed employees of Koch Industries, Inc. to discuss risk management for Koch Ag and Energy Solutions (KAES), a Koch Company. Joining the center was Kurt Kolbeck, a 1987 Graduate from the K-State College of Business, and president of Koch Energy Services. We were also able to listen to Allen Burkhart, a recent K-State grad and manager of Business Development and Strategy at KAES.

Kurt and Allen opened by discussing what Koch does and the many industries they are currently in, as well as the management philosophy at Koch. They described Market Based Management, and the 10 MBM Guiding principles by which the company abides. We also learned that Koch Industries and its shareholders (Koch Industries is a privately held company) are committed to reinvesting 90% of earnings back into the company, with the goal aggressive growth for the future.


The two discussed with us that Koch Industries uses the term “Risk Optimization” rather than “Risk Management”, with the belief that not all risks can be managed and must be situated to put the company in the best position, even if that means not taking certain risks. One interesting note that Kurt pointed out was the fact that even though certain employees entire job is focused around risk, every single employee is managing risk every single day. Even the employees simply answering a phone are handling customer retention risk every time they talk to a customer.

The student fellows were able to hear specific examples of risk optimization within Koch from the specific employees handling the situations, which was a unique experience. Kurt and Allen talked about an example dealing with UREA trading. They highlighted the major risks including navigating tough international market situations while creating value for its customers. Another case that we discussed dealt with fertilizer gas price management. Allen detailed that major risks include price risk, operations risk, and credit risk. When addressing risks in any scenario, Koch applies risk-adjusted thinking and option thinking to create long-term value and avoid catastrophic risks.

Kurt and Allen had lots of experience and knowledge around risk management to share with the center, and we were lucky to have them come speak. CRMER is also very thankful to Koch Industries for their support of the center, and the relationship that has formed between the company and the center, with many former fellows continuing on to work at Koch Industries following college.

Thank you to Allen and Kurt for taking the time to visit with us!

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Spring 2017 Student Fellow DC Trip


The Kansas State University Center for Risk Management Education and Research returned to Washington, DC this May with a group of 26 Student Fellows. An exciting itinerary filled with elite risk managers made this trip especially memorable. We left DC full of new knowledge about how successful organizations identify and manage risk.

The Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers (CIAB) graciously shared their office space during the Student Fellows’ visit to Washington, DC this spring. We kicked off a two-day lineup of speakers with The Council’s Senior Vice President of Membership, Alycia Kiley, and Senior Vice President of Sales and Business Development, Webb Milward. The trade association is composed of 200 corporate member firms, including 80 of the top 100 brokerage firms nationwide. Alycia and Webb discussed the three primary areas in which The Council serves it members including, networking/engagement, advocacy, and building business intelligence. Through this collaboration, CIAB and its members address the current risks in the market while driving the industry forward. We learned that cyber risk, a hot topic for CIAB and its members, is one of the most critical risks businesses in the insurance industry face today. The Student Fellows also heard from two of The Council’s newest team members who spoke about their experiences interning and now working full time with The Council. CIAB closed with an important message for the Student Fellows preparing to enter the workforce, don’t look for jobs, look for opportunities.


Alex Manning, Senior Government Relations Director for Arent Fox spent an exciting session with the Student Fellows discussing cyber risk and cyber security. The topics Alex covered were especially fascinating given the context of the recent WannaCry cyberattack. Alex is responsible for advising clients on strategies to protect their system from data breaches and developing a plan for when a security breach occurs. While cyber terrorism and largescale global attacks dominate headlines, Alex also discussed the growing trend of internal cyber threats that can also occur within an organization. Putting in place the proper safeguards and ensuring that no single individual has access to everything within a company decreases the possibility of a severe internal attack. Alex mentioned it simply takes paying attention to other employees to identify a possible internal security threat. Additionally, Alex mentioned a few other best practices, by the end of the session we were all frantically thinking about our own cyber security management!


Dr. Carol Brevett, Principal Scientist for the Department of Homeland Security, Chemical Security Analysis Center provided Student Fellows with an overview of the DHS Terrorism Risk Assessments. With the large number of chemical compounds in their database, the Chemical Analysis Center carefully evaluates the multiple scenarios that can occur with these dangerous substances. Terrorism Risk Assessments provide a comprehensive evaluation that cover every aspect of chemical threats from inception all the way to recovery. When completing a risk assessment, DHS collects frequency data, which allows them to calculate consequences. Using a heat map, Dr. Brevett and her colleagues can plot and visualize the impact of different risk scenarios. Student Fellows were fascinated by the various models the Chemical Analysis Center utilizes to analyze these risk scenarios. It was very interesting to hear how DHS prepares and plans for risk.


Chief Strategy Officer, and Founding Member for the Risk Cooperative, Andres Franzetti introduced Student Fellows to the innovative strategies the Risk Cooperative employs to address the risks industries currently face. Being resilient today requires new approaches to risk management and decision-making, the Risk Cooperative calls this Global Risk Agility. Andres pointed out to us the idea of the Great Risk Convergence where humanity lies in-between natural and manmade risks. A graph mapping today’s major risk areas helped us visualize the interconnectedness between these risks. Andres discussed implications of current hot topics including climate change, cyber risk, and political risk. We also learned about the Risk Cooperative’s work found in the Harvard Business Review about understanding Enterprise Value of Data and the associated risks for companies like Google or Apple, who have larger intangible value. With an agile and proactive mindset about risk, we can better navigate the interconnected world of risk. We were very fortunate to hear from Andres about Risk Cooperatives forward thinking philosophy on risk.


Todd Kemp, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Treasurer for the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and graduate of Kansas State University opened with an overview of the NGFA. The size and scale of this trade association is remarkable as it boasts more than 1,000 company members across various sectors. The NGFA serves its members through advocating for policies focused on improving U.S. agriculture. Todd reviewed some of the current topics NGFA is following, including the appointment of a new Secretary of Agriculture, as well as trade deals like NAFTA and TPP. It was very interesting for the Student Fellows to hear about the future of agriculture from Todd and NGFA. The Student Fellows would also like to thank Todd and NGFA for helping sponsor our trip as well as Todd’s continued support of the Center through his membership on the CRMER advisory council.


Our first day in DC ended with a networking reception, graciously hosted by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association on the rooftop of their DC office. We truly enjoyed meeting with KSU alumni and friends of the Kansas State University Center for Risk Management Education and Research.  We would like to thank Colin Woodall, Vice President of Government Affairs at NCBA for his help in organizing this event.


Starting Tuesday’s schedule, we had the opportunity to hear from Gregg Doud, President of The Commodity Markets Council and graduate of Kansas State University, as well as Scott Parsons, Founding and Managing Partner of Delta Strategy Group.  Both CMC and Delta Strategy Group focus on market regulation and developing risk management strategies. The importance of a proactive approach to risk management by identifying concerns while also providing solutions is the key to both CMC and Delta Strategy Group’s success.  We were very interested in hearing Gregg and Scott’s views on significant economic events like the 2003 mad cow disease outbreak, as well at the 2008 financial crisis. Scott and Gregg wrapped up with some very helpful advice for us for the future, working hard will help set us apart in our professional careers.


Special Agent Mark Betten, FBI highlighted details of a recent FBI investigation into foreign nationals’ involvement in intellectual property theft. The subject of the case: corn seeds, something Betten admitted, most do not even realize is intellectual property. The case began after a field manager notified the FBI of a suspicious person digging around one of DuPont Pioneer’s test fields. An important observation that if went unreported, might have changed the outcome of events. We listened in suspense as Betten walked us through the intricate steps of the investigation and how the FBI built up their case. Thanks to Special Agent Betten’s presentation, we are more aware of how paying careful attention to details can help mitigate major risks.


Michael Torrey, Principal and Founder of Michael Torrey Associates, and KSU graduate spent Tuesday afternoon discussing risk management in politics. Michael Torrey Associates advocates for agriculture, food and financial services organizations. Acknowledging the stigma often associated with lobbyists, Michael explained that good lobbyists know all of the facts and present both sides of an issue. Michael also discussed how his team helps its clients by building a framework of understanding similar to a SWOT analysis in which they visualize what success will look like for their clients one year from now. Hearing about Michael’s experience on the Hill was fascinating and we are very appreciative of his career advice, always be nice to everyone.


We finished our time in DC with a visit to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) headquarters in DC. Charlie Thornton, Director for the Office of Legislative Affairs, and Ann Wright, Deputy Director, took us on a tour of the building where we were able to see the Acting Chairman’s Office, the Market Watch Room, and the large Conference Center where the CFTC hosts their town hall meetings. Chief of Staff for the Acting Chairman, Mike Gill, provided an overview and history of the CFTC. We also heard from Amir Zaidi, Director of Market Oversight, Jamie McDonald, Director of Enforcement, and Andy Busch, Market Intelligence Officer. Each presentation helped provide us with a holistic understanding of how the agency oversees market regulation. Touring the Market Watch Room gave us a visual of how the CFTC identifies fraudulent activity. We also appreciated Connie Atkins sharing internship and job opportunities available at the CFTC.

A special thank you goes out to all of our guest speakers who helped make this visit an exceptional learning experience. Thank you again to our trip sponsors Todd Kemp & NGFA, Gregg Doud & CMC, Michael Torrey & Michael Torrey Associates, and Colin Woodall & NCBA.

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Ken Bedingfield of Northrop Grumman Discusses Enterprise Risk Management

By Alana McLain

Ken Bedingfield, a Corporate Vice President and the Chief Financial Officer of Northrop Grumman, discussed risk management from a defense contracting standpoint with the student fellows on Tuesday, April 4th. The main discussion was around how the board of directors works together to assess key risk factors for the company.

Northrop Grumman is a global security company whose largest customer is the United States government, who makes up a majority of Northrop Grumman’s business. They also operate globally with allied nations like Australia and South Korea. While a portion of their operations are classified, Ken was able to tell the student fellows about how the board of directors goes about managing risk for the company.


The board of directors outlined several risk factors for their investors in 2016. These are umbrella factors that include more specific risks, but have been broadened in order to manage them more effectively. A few of these broad risk factors include customer concentration, appropriations, contract performance, cyber security, pension plans, nuclear activities, work force, and performance obligations. One of the approaches that Northrop Grumman takes in risk management is the absence of a risk management officer. They believe that it is the entire company’s responsibility to manage risk and that farming out risk management isn’t beneficial to the organization. Instead, Northrop Grumman utilizes an enterprise risk management council to regularly review and address risk.

After addressing a few specific risk topics in detail – like pension plans, threat based risk, taxes, and insurance – Ken outlined the steps that the Enterprise Risk Management Council uses to recognize, assess, and mitigate risk. Their key elements of risk assessment are a robust and dynamic risk assessment at many levels, actionable and tested mitigation plans, recognition of significance and priority of risk, and managing risk instead of avoiding it. By regularly reviewing risks, they are able to catch new and changing risks early. Testing their actionable mitigation plans ensure that they can execute these plans before the risk gets out of hand. They use a risk cube to analyze the significance and priority of a risk to determine which ones are more important to manage. And finally, they must manage risk instead of avoiding it to take advantage of profit opportunities. As the saying goes, high risk means high reward. By managing risk, they can capitalize on these higher rewards generate profit for Northrop Grumman.


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Timothy Barr, Project Manager for the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility Speaks to Student Fellows

By Alex Reed and Vince Sylvester

During a visit to campus on March 27th, the CRMER Student Fellows were able to listen to Timothy Barr speak about his experience with risk management during the construction of NBAF, the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility in Manhattan. Tim is the Project Manager for NBAF, and is responsible for overseeing the successful and safe completion of the project.

We were able to learn about how big of a role risk management plays in the process of constructing NBAF first hand from Tim, and how massive of a project the facility itself and the entire process is (The schedule alone has 30,000 activities!). Tim told us that the facility is essentially an insurance policy for managing the risk of agriculture, a sector that makes up a major portion of the economy of the United States.

With such a complex process from design and planning beginning in 2006 to fully operational by 2023, risks are everywhere. Due to the prolonged schedule, sub-contractors were exiting the deal because of the longevity before they could begin their work. To mitigate this risk, Tim explained that the team behind NBAF decided to allow sub-contractors to purchase all of their materials early. This gave the sub-contractors the benefit of having cash flows now, and gave the team at NBAF the confidence that these contractors would stay for the long haul and successfully complete the project with reasonable costs.

Any real-world project of large enough size to be interesting faces too many risks for each to be individually considered and prevented but by proactively thinking about what may happen, the effects it could have, and how we should react, we can start to take measures to protect ourselves.  Tim talked about a few methods his team used in the risk assessing process.  First, he talked about not starting out too complicated.  His team sat down and brainstormed a whole swath of if- then situations and followed as many branches that each eventuality might take as they could think of.  This process of thinking collaboratively and vocalizing what might sound like obvious risks is a good way to start charting out where your dangers are and where you need protection.  Tim also mentioned more technical ways NBAF attempted to quantify and then mitigate their risks.  He talked about using statistical methods with each risk they identified given a probability and a cost to simulate how much the project was expected to costs and various other questions in the design process.  He also mentioned that before they started construction, they created a three-dimensional model of the facility, and then built it alongside the facility, with any change in the plans affecting the model first, and basing each step of construction off the evolving model.  This took time and expense, but it allowed them to keep track of where they were at in construction and where they were going, so errors didn’t compound through development.   All in all, we learned a lot about the difficulties of managing a large project; that while problems will come up that you could never have seen coming, a thorough, proactive planning process and room to change can help keep disruptions to a minimum.



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Chris Haverkamp, CEO of Paragon Speaks with Student Fellows

By Carragan Lynn and Hannah Wilborn

On February 23rd, The CRMER Fellows had the privilege of listening to the CEO of Paragon Ag Advisors, Chris Haverkamp, speak.  Paragon Ag Advisors is a commodity brokerage firm with its headquarters located in the heart of Kansas and additional offices throughout the Midwest.  Seeing as Chris is native to a farming community in Northeast Kansas and is a graduate from Kansas State University, we had an easy time relating to one another.  Our conversation allowed us to not only gain insight into the formation of Paragon, but also understand how Chris discovered his passion for trading.  Through Chris’s story we learned that some success stories can have a rocky start.  However, his rough start in the business world did not stop him from continuing to work hard until he was in a place that allowed him to do what he loved with purpose and integrity.


Haverkamp took the time to talk to one Fellow in each academic major within the group and discuss how our abilities could be used in a company like Paragon.  He gave us an inside look at how a brokerage firm like theirs deals with risk every single day.  As we approached the end of our conversation with Mr. Haverkamp, he made sure to leave us with a statement imprinted in our minds: “communication is key.”  As we get to hear Chris Haverkamp and other important business men and women speak, the incredible importance of communication becomes more evident.


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Adapting to a World Filled with Risks: Guest Speaker Drew Hannan Visits with Student Fellows

Drew Hannan, Global Risk Management Manager from Asurion, spent an afternoon on campus with the CRMER Student Fellows on Wednesday, February 15th. Drew began his presentation with an introduction about Asurion, the world’s largest provider of cell phone insurance and technology solutions. Drew joined Asurion as an International Risk Manager in 2015, after previously working for Lockton Companies. In his current role at Asurion, Drew is responsible for ensuring the success of Asurion’s global operations by identifying risks, and using different tactics to manage the risks facing Asurion’s business.


Drew defined risk as exposure to danger, harm or loss. Effective risk management, Drew explained, should help companies avoid having to use their own insurance. In order to effectively manage risk, Drew discussed the importance of conducting risk assessments. Drew shared a heat map with examples of possible risks a business could face. He explained how he uses data analysis tools like this to evaluate the probability and severity of different risks that could impact a company. This opened up into a conversation about the areas companies must consider to identify and mitigate risks.

Following this discussion, Drew walked us through some different business scenarios. He displayed a few hypothetical examples of risk associated with exploring new international business operations, severe weather threats to a large warehouse, and reacting to political tensions in current global operations. It was very exciting for the fellows to see Drew in action as he broke down each scenario for us and gave a comprehensive explanation of the various risks a company would face in these situations.

We were fortunate enough to end the lecture with the opportunity to ask Drew some questions about his own career and current role at Asurion. Asurion adjusted their business while considering risks to develop from providing cell phone insurance, to now also providing technology solutions and support to a world with a growing dependency on technology. We learned a valuable message about the importance of being able to adapt, not only in the business world, but in life.

We really appreciate Drew taking time to share his knowledge and enthusiasm for risk management, which has made us eager to learn more in the future.

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