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.