Magazine article Risk Management

Learning Lessons with Sharon Spencer

Magazine article Risk Management

Learning Lessons with Sharon Spencer

Article excerpt

When you speak to Sharon Spencer, the first thing that strikes you is her infectious enthusiasm. She is quick to tell a joke and will describe things as "cool" or "spectacular." It is this enthusiasm that has fueled her success in risk management and insurance for more than twenty years.

Spencer worked as senior risk management coordinator for Burlington Resources Oil and Gas Company in Fort Worth, Texas for more than ten years before joining Arlington, Texas-based Nursefinders, Inc., a temporary staffing healthcare company of over twenty-five thousand employees, in 1997. As the risk manager in the corporate service center, Spencer has been able to implement a return-to-work program, a transitional duty program and help develop an insurance allocation system, with "stellar" results. In the process, she has learned some important lessons about the profession.

"Whenever I am asked to define risk management," she says, "I reply with one simple word--awareness." Awareness is necessary in a field no longer insular, she says.

With risk managers increasingly evolving into chief risk officers, responsibilities have expanded from simple insurance purchasing to include the needs of executive management and the company as a whole. "Risk management is not static. The dynamics of the world we live in dictate its ever expanding parameters," says Spencer. "This is truly risky business!"

Risk managers have to tailor their performance objectives to mirror the objectives of executive management because, according to Spencer, "it is the job of the risk management professional to do all that he or she can do to make certain that management meets or exceeds performance objectives." Risk managers ensure that "top management gets a peaceful night's sleep," she says.

In addition to a greater sense of awareness, risk managers must be full of curiosity, says Spencer. "Risk management professionals should not be shy about asking questions, and they must lucidly explain why they are posing such questions. A good risk manager probes for informative answers."

Spencer has been impressed with the results of risk management's expanded outlook. …

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