As a complement to our Women in Finance series, we wanted to spotlight women that are making a difference mitigating risk for their organizations. While not considered the flashiest segment of finance, an increasing number of women are nevertheless choosing the risk management path- and for good reason.
Women are compensated highest, relative to men, in risk management than nearly any other field, according to a compensation survey by Risk and Insurance Management Society.1
An article by Risk Management magazine points to natural attributes women possess that make them smart candidates for risk management roles- one being that women are more naturally risk-averse than men.2
There are a vast number of risks that enterprises must navigate including cyber, reputation, fraud, cultural, executive and compliance. The three women we selected each specialize in different areas. But there is one common denominator- an unwavering persistence in managing risk for their respective companies and stakeholders.
Reshmi Khurana- Kroll Inc.
It’s no secret that corruption is pervasive throughout the developing world. So, it’s important to highlight those who devote their careers to fighting such uphill battles. Kroll Inc.’s’ Reshmi Khurana is an example of one-such crime fighter.
A bit of a globetrotter (having worked in New York, Singapore and India), Ms. Khurana serves as a Managing Director and Head of South Asia’s ‘Investigations and Disputes’ practice for Kroll- a recognized leader in risk consulting.
Generally speaking, risk consultants minimize losses for their clients, often large corporations. These are major targets for corrupt practices- a survey by FTI Consulting Group revealed average annual fraud losses to large, multi-nationals averaged $260 million .3
Ms. Khurana obtained some of her risk management experience by conducting due diligence on potential M&A transactions. She uncovers and identifies risk- via forensic accounting and financial statement analysis in foreign countries where accounting standards and financial records may be ‘relaxed’ such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, and Nepal.
Missing such transgressions can be very costly. In accordance with the Foreign Corruption Practices Acts (FCPA) an acquirer who fails to uncover any fraudulent activity on the target company could be subject up to enormous “successor liability.” This means the messes of the target company become the acquirer’s responsibility to clean up (in fines). Thus, conducting proper due diligence before deals are signed is crucial.
Sometimes, the sole purpose of an acquisition is to hide an ongoing fraud. When an M&A transaction is pending, access to financials may be limited- impeding transparency. The fraudulent strategy may be to unwind the fraud in later reporting quarters when financials combine.
Another common way fraud is occurring in emerging markets is through partnerships. Ms. Khurama co-wrote a piece for The Hindu where she revealed that nearly half of fraudulent activity in India in 2017 stemmed from joint venture partnerships.4 India is trying hard to combat fraud with its War on Cash.
Prior to Kroll, Ms. Khurana was an analyst with McKinsey & Company, one of the most prestigious management consulting firms in the world. She demonstrates how far having a Masters in Economics degree can take a career in finance and risk management.
Julie Pemberton- Columbus Regional Airport Authority
Our next addition has risk management experience in both the public and private sectors. Julie Pemberton has worked at Chiquita, Coinstar (OuterWall) and, most recently, the Columbus Regional Airport Authority.
Ms. Pemberton was with OuterWall for roughly 5 years until October 2016 (before her departure, OuterWall was purchased by private equity giant Apollo Global Management).5 While at OuterWall, one of Ms. Pemberton’s responsibilities was coordinating insurance lines to cover enterprise risks including global casualty, cyber and executive risks.
One area under ‘executive risk’ that has seen an increase in popularity is ‘key person’ insurance. This is a life insurance taken out by the company on a crucial individual. The company is named as the beneficiary and it protects against the death of this employee. In smaller companies, a key person may be a ‘rainmaker’, such as the company’s top salesperson, or the founder.
In addition to her career experience, Ms. Pemberton has also earned the CRMP designation (Certified Risk Management Professional). This accredited certification is awarded by the Risk and Insurance Management Society, RIMS, where Ms. Pemberton served as President in 2016. The program’s curriculum encompasses a number of topics for risk analysts such as analyzing the company business model, describing an organization’s value chain and creating risk solutions.6
One of the things we admire most about Ms. Pemberton is that she went back to school in 2004 (Thomas More) to earn her business degree at night while maintaining a full-time work schedule.7 This must have been quite a juggling act!
Today, aspiring risk managers can earn an online MBA in Enterprise Risk Management Finance while still working full-time. This flexibility eliminates much of the opportunity costs of earning an advanced degree. According to Salary.com, the median salary for risk managers is just over $109,000.8
Kim Kramer- AIG
The AIG brand has made a significant comeback since the Financial Crisis when it found itself on the wrong side on billions of dollars’ worth of derivative transactions. Not only has AIG’s reputation improved, risk management practices have tightened up. This can be attributed in part to the watchful eye of professionals like Kim Kramer.
Ms. Kramer found her way into insurance almost by chance. In fact, in an interview with Business Insurance, she revealed knowing very little about insurance when she started working for New Jersey-based Chubb.9 After all, she was a Biology major at Colgate.
After 18 years at Chubb insurance companies, Ms. Kramer joined AIG, where she’s been for nearly 13 years now. Currently AIG’s Global Head of Casualty Risk Consulting, her current responsibilities include increasing safety-solutions and decreasing loss frequency to reduce the Total Cost of Risk for clients.10
She achieves this through a variety of strategies including changing culture and behaviors, technological innovations and the use of analytics.11 What has made Ms. Kramer so valuable to AIG and their clients, is her ability to utilize all of these tools to produce quantifiable results.
The use of business or big data analytics is a theme we expect to see more of in the future. When Ms. Kramer began her career at Chubb, risk analytics for insurers was largely based on actuarial calculations. While still important, newer, predictive analytics programs complement such calculations to mitigate risk. For example, supercomputing vastly expedites catastrophe risk modeling, reduces fraud, improves worker safety and identifies supply chain risks. Analytics has changed the game.
Big Data analytics benefits almost any business. But you don’t need to be a ‘quant’ to utilize it. There are now online Masters in Business Analytics degrees to equip upwardly mobile professionals in any number of industries. With the increased emphasis on risk management in business, this credential could improve career trajectory and potentially lead a managerial role.
There’s never been a better time for women to enter the male-dominated industries of finance and risk management. This can be attributed to many trailblazers including the three women featured here. We wish them the best of luck in future endeavors.
Learn more about earning your Masters Degree in Finance.