5/16/2018

And the Winners Are….

We chat with CLM's 2018 professionals of the year

By Phil Gusman

Fresh off being recognized at CLM’s annual conference in Houston, the 2018 professionals of the year took some time to tell us about their awards, what it takes to be successful, and the greatest challenges they face.

On earning the award and being nominated by peers:

Teresa Beck, of counsel at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, and CLM’s 2018 Outside Counsel Professional of the Year: “I was actually shocked when my name was called. I think I sat there for a few moments too long thinking, ‘What just happened?’ I was happy to just be nominated, because, with CLM, you meet people with great ideas that can really help you in real-life situations. To be nominated for this award was a huge honor.”

Simon Keshishian, senior director of risk management at Red Bull and CLM’s 2018 Litigation Management Professional of the Year: “I’ve been in the business for 20 years, and any time you can get recognition from your peers and beyond, it really means a lot.”

Robert Bowers, national claims and customer service leader for Westfield Insurance, and CLM’s 2018 Claims Management Professional of the Year: “It’s always fantastic being honored by your peers for this type of award, especially with this organization. For me, while it’s a great personal honor, I also look at it as an honor for my leaders and my department overall.”

On what it takes to be a successful professional:

Bowers: “Someone who can cast a vision and enable their team to achieve that vision. Someone who has a consistent track record of meaningful contributions, is active in the industry, and continues to move the industry forward.”

Beck: “Lawyers have to recognize that they are just part of the team. The best results I’ve had were the ones where we consulted with and included the viewpoints and ideas of the risk manager, claims professionals, and legal teams, and it was all coordinated.”

Keshishian: “It doesn’t hurt to be competent. But I think it also has to do with your ability to interact with folks. There are only so many things you can do in a litigated matter. Sometimes it’s all about the money. But sometimes timing is important, as is looking at the underlying issue. It’s looking at more than the zero-sum game and trying integrative solutions.”

On today’s greatest challenges and how to meet them:

Beck: “One of the greatest challenges is getting new people into claims and making the profession appealing, because it’s a great job whether you’re a lawyer, risk manager, claims professional, or in-house counsel. But the industry doesn’t do a great job explaining that to the next generation of claims professionals. Also, making sure that all parts of the team—law firms, corporations, insurance companies—are diverse and inclusive from the bottom to the top is important. I think the industry has a lot of learning to do about how much more successful companies can be when they are diverse and inclusive.”

Bowers: “Continuing to provide exceptional customer service and accuracy while getting more efficient. The challenge is ensuring we’re keeping our people first through those processes. What can you do to create efficiency and better customer service—which could include automation and better processes—while recognizing that the relationships are still critical? How do we marry those potentially divergent items into a cohesive strategy? Companies that get it right will be able to compete not only on price, but also on service.”

Keshishian: “It seems, over the years, the industry has gone from claims organizations that train people in all lines of business—and have them do everything from ‘cradle to grave’—to being highly specialized in certain areas. Sometimes it’s great to be a specialist in one area, but I think sometimes you don’t see the forest for the trees. If you have no workers compensation background, or if you have no idea how a property claim works, and a litigated matter touches on those issues, I think you risk losing the ability to identify some of the crossover issues.”



Phil Gusman is managing editor of CLM magazine, a publication of the CLM. He can be reached at phil.gusman@theclm.org.

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