The theme for Gloria Brosius’ 2019 RIMS presidency is “Great Expectations.” But the nod to the Charles Dickens classic is not just a slogan—it succinctly describes the standards to which organizations hold risk managers. It also characterizes her initial outlook when she joined RIMS 22 years ago, and her plans to further engage membership and the risk management community.
Brosius has served on the RIMS board of directors since 2014 and remains active with the RIMS Rocky Mountain Chapter (Denver), where she has held several board positions, including president from 2005-2006. As the first director of risk management and insurance for Pinnacle Agriculture Distribution, Inc., in Loveland, Colorado, Brosius oversees more than 4,500 employees working and traveling within 27 states. She spoke to Risk Management about what she hopes to accomplish as RIMS president, the state of the risk management profession, and what risks keep her up at night.
Risk Management: What will be the focus of your presidency?
Brosius: I plan on focusing on ensuring that we have an inclusive society that allows risk professionals to meet and exceed the expectations of our organizations. Expectations today have never been higher for organizations and risk professionals to quickly adapt and implement emerging technologies, proactively and continuously address cyber exposures, brace for political change and uphold ethical and social standards. And understanding that their decisions could mean the difference between success and failure, global business executives are depending on their risk management teams for enterprise-wide risk intelligence and dynamic strategies.
Risk professionals are expected to have a high degree of institutional knowledge and communication skills, global qualifications that showcase their ability to tackle the unexpected, regulatory awareness, as well as a strategic and innovative mindset that supports changes in technology, organizational growth, and profitable initiatives. I am really looking forward to a great year of promoting the risk management profession and expanding the global the base of RIMS.
RM: How has risk management evolved during your career?
Brosius: Risk management today is much more recognized by leadership as a key function within an organization, whereas years ago, we were really just seen as the insurance people in an organization. And I feel that RIMS has also grown and evolved. There is a much larger network of learning and networking opportunities that are available and that all supports the continued growth of a risk professional’s knowledge.
To me it seems that the risks are so much more complex than they used to be, and they seem to come at organizations much faster and with greater intensity. For example, years ago cyberrisks didn’t even exist so there was no need for the insurance. And that is definitely been a complex and ever-changing exposure.
Risk professionals are always asking themselves how to stay ahead of these evolving risks, and how to get the knowledge needed to address their complexity. It is a continual process.
RM: How has the risk manager’s role changed?
Brosius: Risk managers generally have been known as the people who always said ‘no, you can’t do this.’ But I feel that’s changing. And I think it is important that we find a way to say yes, and help our organizations as they are growing and expanding the business.
I consider myself a pretty conservative sort of person so I’m generally in the risk averse category. However, I know that for organizations to grow and expand, sometimes you have to take those risks and be bold. You have to make brave decisions and sometimes you’re going to have insurance coverage to support you in making those decisions. Hopefully you’ll also have support from the board and other stakeholders.
RM: What threats should risk professionals be most concerned about about in the short- and long-term?
Brosius: Amid volatility in our world, risk professionals need to balance both risks and opportunities. Cyber is still a still a fairly new risk that has only been present in our lives for 20 years or so, but every day there seems to be a new attack or breach, and the insurance coverage is changing as well. I feel the insurance coverage available today is so much better than it used to be, but risk professionals and their organizations must be diligent with cyber awareness and controls in order to protect themselves.
Corporate ethics has crossed another threshold we need to be aware of. With the advent of the #MeToo movement, there is a great impact on workplace culture, and the opportunities for education and training are there. There is an impact on directors and officers and the overall corporate reputation that risk professionals can help manage.
RM: What are some of the biggest risks you regularly face in the agricultural industry?
Brosius: As with most industries I think our biggest challenge is our people. Our employees are human and they will make mistakes. But we also have a very strong focus on safety and on sending our employees home in the same condition they came to work. The continual focus that we have on safety constantly reminds our employees to be safe in every aspect of their job.
Climate change is definitely another factor as we look at what our customers need to be successful in their operations. There is a significant amount of planning that goes into ensuring our products can meet the changing climate. We have to consider how climate change may affect the economic base of our various regions as well as how we can adjust our products to survive droughts, heavy rains or other climate factors. Climate change impacts the lessening amount of arable land available to the country to farm and produce food. Arable land continues to shrink as our population grows and urban areas expand. We have to do more with what we have, and that harkens back to creating really good products so that our customers, farmers and the nation can produce the right crops at the right time of the year.
Water is another major risk and in some areas of the country is a big concern. In many cases and there is a limited supply—we often have to do more with less. In Colorado, for example, we have been in a drought for a number of years. Our ski resorts are getting plenty of snow this year but the urban areas and the farming areas are not. There are parts of the nation that have been under severe drought conditions for years, while parts of the nation have an overabundance of water and that is just as much of an issue. It is part of the challenging nature of the farming industry.