PARMA Member Spotlight
Meet Steven Schwartz, CSP
Risk Manager, City of Fremont
Tell me about how you became a risk manager?
My path to risk management has been circuitous at best. I started my career as a robotics engineer working in Silicon Valley. After several years of robotics work, I was given an opportunity to transition into the role of a corporate environmental/ safety engineer. I found the area of safety engineering rewarding and after a couple years I accepted a job in the Pacific Northwest as a safety officer for a large park district which included overseeing two wildlife parks. After a short time, I assumed the tasks of coordinating employee benefits, workers' compensation and the oversite of tort defense. With the new tasks came the title of Risk Manager. Needless to say, the new title and associated duties cut into my play time at the parks. Eventually I found my way south to sunny California and the City of Fremont where I have had the pleasure of being Risk Manager for the past 14 years.
What are the rewards you experience professionally by being a PARMA member?
PARMA is great at facilitating the exchange of information between members. Whether it is a chapter meeting or the annual conference, these events provide members the chance discuss "hot topics" and learn how other members are handling them. PARMA has allowed me to network and has provided me with resources to manage risk practices in today’s world.
How has your professional knowledge expanded by interacting with other PARMA members?
I have found that PARMA members are some of the most generous individuals when it comes to sharing their experience and knowledge. Through PARMA I have met incredible people with industry experience that I continue to tap into as I solve issues that I encounter as a Risk Manager.
When did you start realizing you wanted to move into a leadership role within PARMA?
After spending several years in the back of the room at chapter meetings, a couple of the Bay Area chapter officers approached me and asked if I would serve as the Chapter Chair. Although the idea was intimidating at first, I found the experience quite rewarding as it provided me the opportunity meet new people and encourage others to join in and participate.
After being a member in PARMA for some time now, how essential was joining your professional association?
Throughout my career I have belonged to several professional organizations. PARMA by far has been the easiest to navigate and most generous in the information that is shared.
How would you respond to a risk manager who says they don’t have time to participate in PARMA and /or moving towards a leadership position?
We all have a vast myriad of professional options available to us as Risk Managers (webinars, training courses, conferences). I have found that the effort vs reward ratio with PARMA is by far the best. The topics discussed cover such a wide area of Risk Management it would be hard to find another organization of equal value.
What do you see being one of the largest challenges for the future of risk management?
Not to sound like a broken record, but it has and will continue to be educating others to the values risk management brings to an organization while encouraging the next generation of risk managers to step up and champion the industry.
How will PARMA respond to that challenge?
I already see PARMA making inroads into universities; I see more and more new faces at the annual conference. I think as an organization we are moving in the right direction.