Meet Tony Giles, CPCU, ARM-P

PARMA Member Spot Light

Tell me about how you became a risk manager?

Like most of my risk management colleagues, I came to risk management almost entirely by accident. More generously, I suppose we could say that fate intervened. I worked for the County of Santa Clara for several years in a variety of roles – most of them administrative. I accepted a job as the Senior Management Analyst for the County’s Director of Risk Management. At first, I saw my role as supporting the Director but not really doing risk management. After several years, I started taking on more tasks associated with risk management, ultimately accepting a division manager job doing actual risk work. A couple of years later, the City of Sunnyvale was recruiting for a Risk Manager, and I decided to take a shot at it. One grueling recruitment process later, I was a Risk Manager!

What are the rewards you experience professionally by being a PARMA member?

The most rewarding aspect of PARMA membership for me are the relationships I have developed with my fellow risk professionals.

How has your professional knowledge expanded by interacting with other PARMA members?

Risk management is so diverse as a profession that every practitioner brings to it their own set of experiences and strengths. I have found that I am able to learn from all of my colleagues because each has a set of experiences that are different than mine and their own ways of approaching problem- solving. Everyone has something to offer, and I always learn something when I get together with PARMA members. I would like to give a special shout out to my friend and colleague, Marcus Beverly, at Alliant Insurance Services. I saw Marcus speak at the first PARMA annual conference I attended (before I knew him), and his presentation and enthusiasm for the topic really made an impression on me. I still recall the specific points he made in the presentation!

When did you start realizing you wanted to move into a leadership role within PARMA?

After I started my first real risk management job, I became friends with the Secretary/Treasurer of the Bay Area Chapter, Karen Caoile from County of Alameda. She encouraged me to get more involved with the chapter. I thought about how much I valued PARMA, and I decided I should try to give back a little.

After being a member in PARMA for some time now, how essential was joining your professional association?

I think it is critical for a public agency risk manager in California to be a part of PARMA. To not be involved is to deprive oneself of some of the best learning and networking opportunities available.

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?

First, I would offer them my empathy! I know from experience just how hard it can be to find the time to participate and take on leadership roles. I would encourage them to find any way that they can to help support and give back to the organization. Once you find that you can contribute some, often you find a way to keep doing more. It is worth the effort.

What do you see being one of the largest challenges for the future of risk management?

One of the biggest challenges to risk management is that there is not enough influx of new talent into the profession. Also, in the public entity world, many organizations are finding that they cannot support having a full-time risk manager, and they assign staff from other disciplines to take on the duties of a risk manager.

How will PARMA respond to that challenge?

PARMA can serve as a resource to share information about the risk management profession to new generations entering the workforce, with a special emphasis on public agency risk management. With respect to staff from other disciplines being assigned to risk management functions, PARMA can continue to provide world-class training and networking opportunities to help get those employees proficient in risk management.