CLM Voices: Getting to Know Helen Irizarry

CLM Voices: Getting to Know Helen Irizarry

Teeing off with Topgolf's director of safety and risk management

By Eric Gilkey

We tee off with this tri-lingual Londoner who conquered life’s bunkers by taking a fresh approach to risk management and culture creation.

A New York Moment

Originally from London, Irizarry worked in IT recruiting in Germany before moving to New York City for a new job on Sept. 9, 2001. Faced with a post-9/11 job market, she typed “German” into a job search engine (she speaks both German and French fluently), and ended up in claims at Hannover Re. Her first risk management job came later, at Rave Cinemas.

Philosophy to Risk

“The two most important things I can do is form a strong safety culture and connect with people. I really believe that if you have those two things, then everything else falls into place.”

It’s in the Swag

Irizarry uses Workplace by Facebook to communicate directly with associates, whose average age is 24. The tool lets her do things like give away “safety swag” to those who share how they’re keeping the workplace safe (think items like Bluetooth speakers). It helps educate while also rewriting the role of risk management as strictly an enforcement department.

Open Communication

“I feel some of the best ideas on improving safety come from the field, not from the head office. Our associates know more than anybody what the risks are for a particular job.”

Par for the Course

Keeping guests safe and happy can be a challenge, especially when they want to ride in the golf ball picker, a request that one platinum member recently made. Instead of simply saying, “No,” Irizarry worked with the venue to arrange for a birthday banner and balloons to be attached to the picker, and surprised the guest with cake to create a memorable moment.

All Signs Considered

“Many guests are non-golfers, which means we have to put a big emphasis on safety. No matter if it’s their first or fifth visit, guests are instructed face to face by associates on how to be aware of their surroundings.”


Eric Gilkey is executive editor of CLM Magazine, a publication of the Claims and Litigation Management (CLM) Alliance. He may be reached at eric.gilkey@TheCLM.org.

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