Risk Control Without Project Compromise

A conversation with Steven Weiss, Sr. Vice President/Chief Underwriting Officer of Munich Re Specialty Group N.A./Roanoke Insurance Group who will lead the Risk Management for Project Cargo Workshop at Breakbulk Americas.

What is your definition of risk management and how will you define this to the attendees in the workshop? How does your background support this teaching effort? 

My definition of risk management is identifying, assessing and controlling risks arising from operational factors and making decisions that balance costs with project safety and project completion in mind. You spend the time to identify the hazards, assess the hazards, develop controls and make risk decisions. You then implement the controls and then supervise and evaluate, making sure that the implementation of those controls is being properly done.  

I have spent the last 34 years in and around the risk management process. First, as an officer in the U.S. Navy, where I not only commanded a group of people that worked for me, but also was responsible for force readiness in my particular division. I also spent time as a naval marine surveyor doing the actual onsite surveys that balanced risk control with getting the project done—projects similar to what we will cover in the risk management workshop at Breakbulk Americas. 

Following my five years in the Navy, I spent the remaining 29 years in the insurance industry as an employee and as a consultant. More recently my focus has been on risk control from the standpoint of managing an insurance company’s risk without compromising the ability of our clients to get their job done.

It’s a balance between managing risk with project demands that then allows you to properly and safely complete the project. And that’s a discussion we will have with the attendees: How operational needs don’t necessarily override safety needs—that balance is determined in the risk management process.

Your workshop is the first course to integrate case studies in the instruction. You have gathered a panel of experts to share these projects. What is the benefit to this unique approach?

The panelists will each share their own perspective on what they see as the major risks to them, whether it be an insurance broker, insurance underwriter, the logistics people or the engineers that are helping us with the implementation of plans and the risk controls. Each of these folks will bring their own unique perspective—they’ve all worked on major infrastructure projects that are very complex, including the logistics plans and the cargoes.  

This will give the audience a comprehensive view of risk management from the client all the way through underwriter, including broker, engineer, logistics partners and marine warranty surveyors. The panel presentations will also demonstrate the level of planning that goes into an infrastructure construction project and the risk management process for the marine industry.

What is the immediate value to an individual’s job after participating in this workshop?

I believe that bringing together these unique perspectives from around the industry that attendees at Breakbulk work in—logistics, transportation, engineering, procurement, equipment, insurance and others—will allow participants to hear directly from this group and learn how each looks at risk. 

So, the next time they are in the room with a group like this one talking about risk, they will not only be able to understand the different perspectives, but they will also be able to ask the right questions that should result in a more informed and effective risk plan for the project.

Risk Management for Project Cargo
Tuesday, October 8
 8:30 am – 5:00 pm
GRBCC 3rd Floor Meeting Rooms

Instructor: Steven Weiss, Sr. VP/CUO, Munich Re Specialty Group N.A./Roanoke Insurance Group 

Cliff Axelson, Sr. Vice President, Property & Casualty Division, USI Insurance Services 
Claudio Crivici, NAMS-CMS, President, Castlerock Risk Services, LLC
Ali Rizvi, Senior Vice President, Marsh USA Inc., Global Marine Practice
Lauren Thibodeaux, Insurance and Risk Manager, Freeport LNG



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