Join host Julie Groves, URMIA’s current president and host of URMIA Matters, as she interviews Sandy Mitchell, Susan Wrinn, and Jenny Whittington about their thoughts about the upcoming URMIA Northeastern Regional Conference in Boston. Sandy, Susan, and Jenny share their favorite past Boston conference memories, what to look forward to at this Boston regional conference, and give some great tips to first-time regional conference attendees. Hear about some exciting and innovative sessions that will be presented at the Boston conference, including a “Family Feud”- style presentation. Come join us in Boston, April 10-11: there’s something for everyone!
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Sandy Mitchell, Director of Insurance- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Susan Wrinn, Senior Vice President- Marsh McLennan
Jenny Whittington, Executive Director- URMIA
Julie Groves, Director, Risk Services- Wake Forest University & URMIA President 2022-23
Jenny Whittington: Hey there. Thanks for tuning in to URMIA matters, a podcast about higher education risk management, and insurance. Let's get to it.
Julie Groves: Hi everyone, welcome to URMIA Matters. I'm Julie Groves, the director of risk services at Wake Forest University. And I'm also the current URMIA president. With me today are Sandy Mitchell, director of the Office of Insurance at MIT. Susan Wrinn, senior vice president and client exec at Marsh. And also joining us today is Jenny Whittington, everyone's favorite executive director of URMIA. So, we're going to have a little conversation and preview of the upcoming Northeastern Regional Conference in Boston and the dates for this conference are April 10th and 11th. So welcome to the podcast. Ladies, Nice to see you. Before we start our discussion, I always like to ask folks to tell our listeners a little bit about themselves. So, Sandy, why don't we start with you? We know you have previous Boston experience because you were part of the triumvirate of leaders of folks for our Boston annual conference several years ago. So, what else do you want to share with our listeners?
Sandy Mitchell: So, I'm a Boston girl, not born here, but pretty much bred here most of my life. So, I'm so excited to have you all near and close to Boston. I've been doing this for a long time. I've done sort of the underwriting side, the brokerage side. But I'm back to where my real love is sort of the risk management side being on the client side and just celebrated my 10-year anniversary with MIT last week.
Julie Groves: Congratulations. So, Susan. Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Susan Wrinn: Well, I'm part of the Marsh family and I've been with them for multiple decades, specializing-
Julie Groves: I like that.
Susan Wrinn: Sorry, but it it has been multiple decades, but I don't like to say how many. But specializing in higher education for two of those. So, I'm responsible for managing and coordinating the delivery of Marsh McClennan resources to my clients and developing different marketplace strategies and serving as a liaison to help entities make informed decisions on how to best structure their risk management program.
Julie Groves: Well, and I I joked before we started recording that I think of Susan as the Senior Vice President of Mirth and merriment at Marsh, because I do think of her as a very, very merry, and mirthful person. So, thank you all for being here today, Jenny, of course. Most people know you and you get to introduce yourself a lot, but do you have any like information you wanted to share with folks today? Any updates on your life?
Jenny Whittington: Well, you know, this is the third and my last regional conference that I'll get to be a part of as my official URMIA career will end at the year, so the Northeast regional has been really awesome regional over the years. This is our biggest lineup. We typically offer two tracks of content, and while we are not at Disney World or at Disneyland, some of my favorite URMIA members are in the northeast and that's why we are having this podcast about the Northeast to hopefully attract more of our members to join us in a couple weeks. Thanks Julie.
Susan Wrinn: Sandy, is she referring to us as Disney characters in the northeast?
Julie Groves: Well, yes, I think she is. Or she's saying she's lowered her standards and is coming to the northeast so.
Jenny Whittington: No, no, no, not at. I mean, I I was getting one of you a little confused with Mickey Mouse for a second. But I'm over that, I'm over it. It's like in the past.
Julie Groves: Oh, yes, so that's a perfect segue into our conversation about our Boston regional. So Sandy, why don't you start us off and tell folks what kinds of things attendees can look forward to at this conference?
Sandy Mitchell: So first and foremost, you're going to get great educational sessions. As part of sort of the programming committee, it was so hard to narrow down shows for you to hear because there were so many good presentations put forth. Next, would be networking and catching up with old friends for those of us that have been to this many times, but for the newer risk managers, there'll be plenty of opportunities for you to meet new friends. And to sort of meet some of your peer schools and start making those connections and relationships. And if for those of us that have been to many URMIA conferences, there will not be a lack of food throughout the day, you will find it, and I've eaten it. Actually, this location a couple of times, so the food's pretty good. So, those are the big highlights there, I think.
Julie Groves: Good. Well, great. And Susan, do you want to highlight a couple of the educational sessions for us? Cause I know, Sandy said there were a lot. It's hard to choose from, so it looks like the ones that are on the schedule are going to be fantastic. So which ones can you sort of point out?
Susan Wrinn: Yeah, I agree. I mean, being on the conference committee and going through all of the sessions that were sent in, it was very difficult to pick which ones that we wanted to choose. So, I hope that the people that weren't selected continue to put forward because they were really great topics and you know if we could, we would have chosen them all. I'm personally looking forward to the mergers and acquisitions in higher education session, it's kind of what's hitting the education world right now as financial supports decline and the need for efficiencies increase. Just looking forward to like learning more, getting together the regionals tend to have a more intimate focus. It's focused more on the geographical area, and you know, as Sandy noted, you know you've got the networking ability there for people that you can easily pick up the phone and ask a question to now that you've got that personal relationship. A few other sessions- I know Sandy and I are doing one as well. A lot of really good ones. So, it's going to be hard to actually choose on the times that we have to choose each session.
Sandy Mitchell: I would also say that what was really exciting to see is we have a lot of first time speakers, which at URMIA we always love to see new people stepping up and sharing their ideas and their stories. So that was great to see as well. And one other thing that I noticed is last year at the regional, we had a great presentation sort of ERM and how they did this framework and they're doing Part 2. They're giving an update. So, we don't always get to hear that. So, I'm really looking forward to seeing what you know they've done since last year.
Julie Groves: And just, you know, for anyone who's listening and and is interested in what you know exactly the educational opportunities are going to be. If you look on the URMIA website, you know, the schedule for the Boston Conference is listed out, and it includes the names of the educational sessions. And so, you know, if you're like me, when I go to a restaurant, I want to look at the menu ahead of time. So, I know what I'm going to order so you can sort of do the same thing. You know, if you're coming to the conference, take a peek out at these educational sessions that you're going to be able to choose from and if you're on the fence or haven't thought about coming, but can just be sure to look at this Boston website and and it gives you a wealth of information. So Sandy, I think there is a pre-conference opportunity. Can you tell folks about?
Sandy Mitchell: Yes, again, so FM global has kindly offered a tour of their SIM Zone and Innovation Lab. I live 20 minutes from the FM location, so I've been to it many a times. It's really educational. There's a lot of fun things to see and it gives you sort of a close-up approach of sort of the science behind FM's approach. We all know that a lot of them are engineers and I think their expression is we can engineer the risk out of a loss. I may get that wrong, but so you get to see first-hand some of the things that they do in applying that. If you have the time and can be there, sort of the afternoon before, I encourage you because not everyone is as close as me and can just pop down whenever they want. So, take the opportunity when you have it.
Julie Groves: Right. And we do want to thank FM global for partnering with us on that. We appreciate all of their support of URMIA and our activities. So, you know, I'll just ask either of you to speak to or any of you, Jenny, to, you can speak to this too, why should someone who's never been to an URMIA conference consider coming to this one?
Jenny Whittington: Sure, I can start with that one, Julie. I mean the regional as I think Susan alluded to, they are smaller crowd. So, it is a very approachable conference on the scale is much smaller than our annual conference and we do offer a reception on the first evening, followed by optional meet and greet dinners where we put together attendees who can go to a local dinner together. It's everybody splits the bill, kind of situation, but these conversations over the years I've found are really great ways to meet new people and form a new network. So, if you're new to risk management, I can see many of the sessions are targeted to folks who are fairly new. I mean, there's an international session, there's a campus violence sessions, there's auxiliary services. I mean, really, there's something for everyone on our agenda. I'm not sure Sandy or Susan, if you have other things to chime in.
Sandy Mitchell: I think that. You know, if you go to the if you've been to the national conference, you know when we had it in Boston, it was over 1000 people. And I think last year we had over 500, 600 hundred people. It can be overwhelming and so going to the regional where there's 100, maybe 125 people, it's a lot easier to take in, particularly if it's your first-time and it gives you a better opportunity to network and meet a lot more people, you know, in doing that.
Julie Groves: I would say to people always try to disbelieve me when I say this- I am actually really an introvert. And so, when you go to the annual conference and it's just days of really good, but very many events together where you don't necessarily know people and, you know, going out to dinners and things that for introverts like me, it gets to be a little overwhelming and this is great because it's a one day conference and you don't have to go to the dinner the night before if you don't want to, if you want to stop into the reception and say hello. You certainly can do that too, but it is a bit of a way for you to kind of dip your toe into the water without it seeming so overwhelming with people.
Susan Wrinn: I can agree to that 100% and one of the things that I absolutely love about URMIA is that it's one big family. Everybody is there to work together to to help each other out, to share ideas and best practices. And they're so easily approachable. And once you get into that surrounding, you feel like you're part of that family. So, if you've never been there, you're missing out.
Julie Groves: So, we we encourage you to come all of us will be there. I'll be there. And Sandy and Susan and Jenny, we will all be there. And so, we hope you'll consider it too. So, Sandy, are we in store for any surprises at this conference?
Sandy Mitchell: Well, it's a little surprise we're doing something a little different. So, we wanted to have at least one sort of risk management. 101 course just because a lot of the younger risk managers come to the regional sessions. And so, Susan and I stepped forward and said, OK, we'll do. Yes. And then rather than just do a presentation and talking to people we thought, let's make this more engaging and in keeping with Susan's theme, I've been doing this for several decades and several decades ago at my first RIMS conference, I participated in a sort of family feud type presentation. And I was on one of the panels. And I still remember the question on how we won our round and that was so long ago. So, we thought it would be fun to do like an URMIA feud, kind of risk management 101 to get the newer, newer risk managers engaged talking to one another, having to work as a team. And learning something all at the same time, but really sort of in a fun sort of way, Susan and I will probably mess it up, but you know. Hey, we'll have fun.
Susan Wrinn: I can put one disclaimer in there that there will be no Richard Dawson special greeting. I don't think that. That is permitted in this day and age, further going forward for us. But we will be having a lot of survey says.
Sandy Mitchell: And for anyone that actually participates, as you know, a team member, there will be a little prize and you know who doesn't like a little take away at the end of the event? So you know, brush up on your skills, you know, you got a couple of weeks where you can sort of go look at some of your risk management course work stuff and be prepared to participate.
Susan Wrinn: And the the actual session itself is not only just for the new higher education risk managers, it's also for those seasoned risk managers that need to brush up on their basic skills. And our goal here is to walk away with all of the questions. And you know, there's no right or wrong answer, we actually did survey 20 plus URMIA members and everybody has been, you know, adding, you know, what they add to it. So, you know you'll come back with a wealth of knowledge from 20 plus university risk managers.
Julie Groves: So, for any of those younger, newer risk managers who are out there listening, pull up Google right now and Google Richard Dawson because you're not going to probably know who he is. But check him out. So, you will be prepared when we start the actual URMIA feud game. So, Sandy, how is Boston this time of year?
Sandy Mitchell: Today, it's beautiful. You know, a little cooler. I'm hoping that we don't get sort of the seasonal rain that you can get in April, but it should be sort of, you know, temperate weather, probably high 50s, maybe low 60s. And, you know, just fall, spring perfect weather. So, it's going to be a sunny day. So, you can step outside to the courtyard. I just foresee that already.
Julie Groves: Well, good, we hope you. All have arranged that for us so. OK, so I do want to just put in the plug and let listeners know that URMIA really, really is encouraging the schools in the Northeast to attend this conference. And we know that everybody's budgets are still tight, but if you have the ability to come and you do have financial need, just reach out to the URMIA office and they'll do what they can to work with you on that. So, before we wrap it up, does anybody have any final thoughts, any burning things they want to share before you know, we sign off for the afternoon. Jenny is waving her hand. Yes, so, Jenny, what would you like to share?
Jenny Whittington: I just wanted to reemphasize what you just said about getting additional members from our institutional base to attend the conference, we're also looking to have multiple people from each school, so if you can just bring a friend from your school who might be an auxiliary services or international, or somebody who needs a little mental health session. I mean a little connection to your students. I mean, we really encourage kind of a deeper bench approach for this conference. As well, because we do offer multiple tracks and there really is something for everyone, and we all know risk management is an umbrella. You know, even if the person is outside of risk management, they can really take away things from a day away from the office. Spending quality time with their risk manager, so think about that angle as well. Thanks, Julie, for doing and thanks Sandy and Susan for doing this podcast we really appreciate it.
Sandy Mitchell: You're welcome. And Jenny, I would, you know, to back that up not only is sort of the risk management team going, we have someone from EHS, our international person is also going to be attendance from MIT, so I definitely concur with Jenny that multiple sort of specialties within your organization will get benefit from the conference.
Julie Groves: So maybe a new tagline for us could be ‘URMIA- there's something for everyone’.
Jenny Whittington: Love it.
Julie Groves: All right, so I want to thank Sandy and Susan and Jenny again for being here to chat with me today. And if you need any additional information on the Northeast Regional Conference, if you want to check out the hotel link, if you want to register, if you want to look at the schedule and see what the educational sessions are, please feel free to look at the URMIA website or reach out to the URMIA National Office, they're always happy to answer any of your questions, and this wraps another episode of URMIA Matters.