Magazine article Risk Management

An Educated Guest

Magazine article Risk Management

An Educated Guest

Article excerpt

Friedkin Companies, Inc. is a family-owned Houston firm with a highly diversified business portfolio that includes a five-state car and parts distributorship and a safari company in Tanzania.

Creighton University is a top Midwestern regional school, founded in 1878 in Omaha, Nebraska by Jesuits and run in the traditions of that Catholic religious order.

These two establishments might seem worlds apart, but they met this past October when Dr. Juli-Ann Gasper welcomed Mary Isbell to Creighton as a "Risk Manager in Residence."

This program, administered by the Spencer Educational Foundation, brings together experienced risk managers and students who are considering careers in the field. Dr. Gasper, associate professor of finance at Creighton's College of Business Administration, says she found Spencer's call for university proposals intriguing because she was "trying to find a way to build more excitement into the curriculum." And Ms. Isbell, director of risk management for Friedkin and first vice president of RIMS' Houston chapter, fit the bill perfectly. "Spencer sent the resumes of the risk managers who applied for the program for us to rate based on preference," says Dr. Gasper, "and Mary was our first choice."

Ms. Isbell attended 14 events during her three-day stay at Creighton, and met with 185 undergraduates, 24 graduate students and 19 others, including local risk managers and faculty members. She lunched with Creighton's risk manager and had a pizza party with the student risk managers and presidents of campus fraternities and sororities. "Being with the students was uplifting," says Ms. Isbell. "All of a sudden risk management became real, not just some theory or formula. The students found out about the nuts and bolts of what we do."

Lecturing and leading discussions in six classes, Ms. Isbell took examples from her own career to illustrate how textbook theory applies to real life. "What I found most interesting in talking with students was that they viewed risk management from a purely financial perspective," she says. "They did not know that a risk manager would be involved in safety, disaster recovery, marketing, claims and litigation management as well as insurance coverage and premium allocations."

Dr. Gasper remarks that although workers' compensation is a major focus for risk managers, her students only come into contact with the issue in their insurance courses. …

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