Risk Management Priorities: Joe Restoule, President of RIMS

Risk Management Priorities: Joe Restoule, President of RIMS
Because of the economic conditions, risks to organizations - from the inside and out - are at a critical high. Risk managers at public and private organizations are forced to make careful decisions on how to invest scarce resources.

In an exclusive interview, Joe Restoule, President of the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS), discusses:

The top risk management issues of 2009;
How risk managers should focus their available resources;
Advice for professionals looking to start a career in risk management.

Restoule currently serves as RIMS president. He has served on RIMS board since 2001 in various capacities, including vice president and secretary. Formerly, he was chair of RIMS Canada Council (1997-2000). In addition, he has served in the past on the International, Member & Chapter Services Committee, and the Strategic Planning Task Force. Outside of RIMS, Restoule is a leader of risk management at NOVA Chemicals Corporation.

RIMS is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing the practice of risk management. Founded in 1950, RIMS represents more than 4,000 industrial, service, nonprofit, charitable and governmental entities. The Society serves more than 10,500 risk management professionals around the world.

TOM FIELD: Hi, this is Tom Field, Editorial Director with Information Security Media Group. The topic today is Risk Management. I'm privileged to be speaking with Joe Restoule, the President of RIMS, the Risk and Insurance Management Society. Joe, thanks so much for joining me today.

JOE RESTOULE: You're welcome. I am delighted to be here.

FIELD: Joe, tell us a little bit about yourself and your professional role as well as your affiliation with RIMS.

RESTOULE: Well, first of all, I am a -- my title is Leader Risk Management, and I work with Nova Chemicals Corporation out of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I've been a Risk Manager for about 20 years all in the energy practice. I've been associated with RIMS, oh, I would say about 18 years primarily at the grass-root level here in Calgary, Alberta, as well as I was the former Chair of the RIMS Canada Council before joining the RIMS Executive Council and then current Board of Directors in leadership roles and then ascending to be the President of RIMS for 2009.

FIELD: Now Joe, for people who aren't as familiar with RIMS as you and I, can you just tell a little bit about the organization and what it does?

RESTOULE: Sure. RIMS is a member company organization. We're non-profit. Our members are corporations located in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Japan. In all, we have approximately 10,500 member companies. RIMS, through its organization, we are headquartered in New York City. We have a staff of approximately 58 people, and we provide products and services for Risk Managers from the neophyte to the very senior and seasoned Risk Manager.

FIELD: Very good, and as I understand, you were founded more than 50-years ago.

RESTOULE: That is correct, and we currently focus our efforts in the area of Professional Development and Networking and providing various products, everything from ERM for Dummies to Cost of List survey, etc..

FIELD: What would you say are RIMS top agenda items this year?

RESTOULE: What I'm proposing is that Risk Managers get themselves out of their comfort zone by learning new skills or, you know, providing new tools or skill sets that will allow them to grow during these recessionary times. So given that theme, some of my specific objectives for RIMS in 2009 are to develop an international strategy and implementation plan. Most of our members are going global and have operations in foreign countries. So we're looking at how we could best support them in those countries in which they're active. We want to continue fostering the Enterprise Risk Management practice and focus a little more strategically in that area. We also are going to continue to address the needs of our memberships. We have recently done a RIMS member satisfaction survey, and we are taking what we've learned from the feedback of constituents and implementing that in our planning prose effort, 2009-2010.

Other objective that's closely dear to my heart is student involvement. Certainly want to take steps this year to cultivate the opportunities for the next generation of Risk Professionals.

Last week, I was in New York City. We were working on our quality initiatives. This is about how we can improve the transaction process of insurance. So I was working with both RIMS staff, our Quality Advisory Committee and Industry. Just the last couple of things, is that I want to continue to strengthen our Industry Partner relationships and to facilitate information sharing, and then lastly, which is an ongoing objective for every President that has taken this responsibility, and that is to work in the legislative and rigatory arena to improve our presence, and by doing that, we will continue with our annual RIMS on-the-hill forum.

FIELD: We see the economic conditions. We see the threat environment, which really, I mean, what we see alot in the States is the external threat, but increasingly so, the insider threat. Given that, the economic conditions and the threat environment, what do you see right now as the top risks to the private and the public sectors?

RESTOULE: Well, I think the top risks will be, you know, being able to manage your risks during these recessionary times. So a lot of focus is going back to our basic - a lot of focus on our basic processes, and that is Risk Identification. So continue to do the risk mapping within our corporations, to develop the risk profile, look for the uncertain, look for the, you know, the risks that you probably felt would never ever appear. Don't slight those. You know, so after you've done your risk mapping, you know, go back, look at what the consequence of those risk scenarios might be. So and then look - look for risk-mitigation techniques, and then lastly look at what how these risks might be financed and how you as the Risk Manager may provide both insurance and non-insurance products that might be able to help the corporation finance these undesirable outcomes.

FIELD: Well, that's something I wanted to follow up with you on, because again, given the economic conditions, as you know, you probably see it in your own company. Resources are tight. Where should Risk Managers focus their available resources?

RESTOULE: Well, I think the Risk Identification Process. I think by working with the business leaders within the corporations to identify potential risks or threats that could impair the financial wherewithal of the corporation. I think that that to me would be the number one focus.

FIELD: Now, Joe, we speak to Security and Risk Management Leaders across the industry and in the public sector as well. Where can these folks turn to for guidance in best practices in some of these critical issues that we've talked about?

RESTOULE: Well, I think it's very well worth mentioning our annual conference and exhibition that will be held in Orlando this year. It will be, I believe that Risk Practitioners will be challenged when they attend a conference. The, I mean, this - at our conference, the Risk Community turns to us for access to current information, education, peer exchange, and advocacy. So it allows them to gather the necessary information and tools that will help them stabilize and secure their Risk Management programs, particularly within these times. For example, just to give you an idea, we have 15 Enterprise Risk Management programs at our conference that are designed to assist the practitioner from just getting started to developing, you know, models and loss-scenario modeling to assist them in - in their endeavors. As well as, we will be focusing on business continuity planning. So I think there's some - there's some really good information, and with respect to just the financial situation, we have some very specific programs that your audience and my fellow risk practitioners might be interested in. I'll just name a few for your information.

One is called: Navigating the Financial Tsunami. This will - this particular course will lead attendees to recommendations to help their organizations to prepare for the economic recovery. The next one is: Five Questions To Ask Before Switching Insurance Companies. This will help - this program will help attendees examine the effectiveness of their insurance portfolios. Given that what is happening with the insurance industry and in particular the solvency issues that some of them face. The next one is: Insurance Coverage For Sub-Prime Mortgage Lawsuits. Now, this will help educate attendees on how to defend their organization against mortgage litigation. So I think that one would be interesting. The other one is: Directors and Officers Insurance During Economic Crisis. Now, this program is intended to show attendees how to stay ahead of the economic crisis.

FIELD: Now Joe, do you find that these - that these risk-management issues tend to transcend specific vertical industries so that someone coming in from, you know, outside the financial services or the public sector, really can rise above sort of industrial concerns and speak to common issues?

RESTOULE: Yes, I do believe that. Yes, I believe that - that these do transcend, and I think that what I've told you, it applies to whether or not you're the Risk Manager of a financial institution or an insurance company, or a utility, or a manufacturing, or a retail. Yes, I believe all of these issues remain constant.

FIELD: Now you mentioned the outreach you have to schools looking to develop the next generation of Risk Managers. What advice would you offer to someone that's just beginning their career in Risk Management now?

RESTOULE: Oh boy, you know, it's a simple one, what I would say to them is take advantage of every opportunity that you have to learn and grow every day. Because in my opinion, they are entering into a profession that is at this point in time, going through extraordinary times, but at the same time, when we go through the - the I guess current situation, there are many rewards, and those rewards will hold them well in the years to come.

FIELD: Very good. Joe, I appreciate your time and your insight today.

RESTOULE: Thank you very much. I enjoyed working with you through these critical questions.

FIELD: We've been talking with Joe Restoule. President of the Risk and Insurance Management Society. For Information Security Media Group, I'm Tom Field. Thank you very much.

About the Author

Tom Field

Tom Field

Senior Vice President, Editorial, ISMG

Field is responsible for all of ISMG's 28 global media properties and its team of journalists. He also helped to develop and lead ISMG's award-winning summit series that has brought together security practitioners and industry influencers from around the world, as well as ISMG's series of exclusive executive roundtables.

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