Getting to Know: Gillian Cummings-Beck
Managing risk across three fashion brand portfolios is not a one-size-fits-all proposition
By Eric Gilkey
Managing risk across three fashion brand portfolios—Chico’s, White House Black Market, and Soma—is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Luckily, Cummings-Beck’s professional background means she embraces even the most unexpected challenges as director, insurance and risk management.
Cummings-Beck spent her early career as a civil servant with the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy, where she held finance-related assignments. In her last role before leaving for Florida, she was the deputy comptroller for a Navy SEAL group. While she admits it was exciting, she says nothing compares to her current role.
Love of Risk Management
“If I had known this role existed when I was younger, I would have had a solid answer to the question, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’”
Expect the Unexpected
Cummings-Beck says managing emerging risks has been particularly challenging this year. With stores across most of the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, she says this year’s historic hurricanes and wildfires required her to implement her crisis management planning frequently. One thing she didn’t expect? A small aircraft crashing into the company’s national store support center over the summer.
Claims as the Spice of Life
“Each one is unique! What worked to settle one claim, won’t necessarily work for another. Thankfully, even the aircraft crash was just a property claim for us in the end.”
A Riskier Place
“We’ve created tools to help us with our need to hurry, causing us to hurry more and make mental and physical mistakes. Those mistakes and poor decisions are what lead to accidents and larger exposures.”
‘Tis the Season
When it comes to the holidays, Cummings-Beck says her team focuses on what associates will be facing, then gears her safety messaging to those areas at least two months prior. She says proper lifting techniques become even more important for the distribution center, and slips, trips, and falls become a bigger concern in the winter months.
Value of Taking Risks
“The biggest risk I ever took was relocating to Florida for my husband’s work. Moving meant giving up my career with the Department of Defense and developing a new work life. Fortunately, I could not have asked for a better company.”