Damon Bennett, Director of Global Account Management for Cunningham Lindsey, has seen his career take him across the globe. Now based in Brisbane, Australia, ILSTV caught up with Damon to ask him five questions.
How did you get involved in the risk management industry?
As Financial Controller for the Law Society for Upper Canada, I realised that the accountant route wasn’t really me, and was looking for a change. I was puzzled by a position for a “Business Interruption Adjuster” for a boutique professional services firm in Toronto, and enquired simply because I wondered what an Adjuster, or business interruption was? That enquiry led me on a fascinating journey through the Insurance world of Lloyds, the London market, Australia and the Asia Pacific region.
How is the level of public awareness when it comes to risk these days? Is it better/worse than before?
One just has to look at the financial press each day to see how important the concept of risk is, and how it may impact people in a variety of ways. Global events since late 2007 has raised the public consciousness enormously, and “Joe Public” is now much better informed. The share and property markets, and the impact of those markets on almost all involved, certainly got a lot of people interested which has created greater awareness, with people taking more care with their decisions. In the commercial arena, this means more sophisticated information and risk analysis is required to support daily business decisions.
We live in an increasingly connected world. How important is risk management in this world?
Given the rise of social media, where everything is accessible, the simplification of risk processes are greatly improved. For example, locating personnel to respond to crisis events, or mitigating business disruption following catastrophic events, is greatly facilitated through Facebook or Twitter.
What’s keeping you awake at night?
I sleep pretty well, but coordinated disaster response for businesses and the community are critical. One just has to consider the natural disasters in Australia, New Zealand and the Asia Pacific region to quickly understand that without comprehensive disaster response plans, things go from bad to worse pretty quickly. From our perspective, we see businesses with good Cat Plans tend to think about mitigation strategies for staff and supply chains, remote facilities if their infrastructure is lost, an in house Cat Management team and a good communication policy to keep in touch with staff and customers.
The ongoing global financial crisis underscores the need for companies to take a look at their approach to risk management. How has this affected the risk management process in your organisation?
Like the accountant who ignores his own taxes, there is a danger of insufficient planning for a natural disaster affecting our own business operations. While we are geographically well spread, we have improved our focus on our business continuity plan currency. Our clients depend on our ability to respond – and we cannot afford to be shut down at any stage.