Tell me about how you became a risk manager?
After two years, I dropped out of college. I could not figure out what I wanted to be if/when I grew up. In fact, the university invited me to pick a major or stay home. I elected to stay home.
A few years later, a friend of mine earned his Masters Degree in Environmental and Occupational Health with an Industrial Hygiene emphasis. He told me about some of his work experiences and I was fascinated. I had not known there was such a degree or job. So, I went and earned myself a degree in Health Science with an Environmental and Occupational emphasis.
My first job was with a small environmental consulting company inspecting, inventorying, and mapping hazardous materials for a city Fire Department. My next two jobs were in manufacturing as a safety specialist, with some responsibilities for workers’ compensation.
Then one day, my wife handed me the want ads (we had newspapers made of actual paper back then) and said she thought I should apply for a job (I had no choice at that point). It was for some organization with the word “Schools” in the name.
Somehow, I managed to land the job at Ventura County Schools Self-Funding Authority, a joint powers authority (what is that?) for public schools. I became certified as a playground safety inspector, earned my Associate in Risk Management designation, and then my Associate in Risk Management for Public Entities designation.
When I began, I thought I would be an occupational safety and health and hazardous materials specialist. But over the last 25 years, risk management in schools became the career I never knew I always wanted.
What are the rewards you experience professionally by being a PARMA member?
PARMA provides excellent educational opportunities. I always learn something at the conference or chapter meetings to help me do my job better.
How has your professional knowledge expanded by interacting with other PARMA members?
There is always someone smarter than I am. Interacting with other PARMA members helps me find them and utilize their knowledge to help me do my job.
When did you start realizing you wanted to move into a leadership role within PARMA?
I was “voluntold” by a past supervisor to be involved in the Gold Coast Chapter steering committee. That was when the chapter was first established. I did take a couple of years off, but I came back. I am currently chapter Secretary/Treasurer.
After being a member in PARMA for some time now, how essential was joining your professional association?
During my safety and health/risk management career, I have always participated in a professional association. Participating in a professional association helps a person keep up with changing aspects of any profession. Through my career phases I have participated in the American Industrial Hygiene Association, American Society of Safety Engineers/Professionals, PARMA, and the Public Risk Management Association. The education and networking are priceless.
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?
I have found that participating in PARMA can actually save time. Implementing ideas from PARMA conference sessions and chapter meetings or adapting work shared from other PARMA members typically saves me time, rather than re-inventing the wheel. I share too!
Being on a chapter steering committee is very rewarding. It can be a little challenging carving time for chapter duties, but the satisfaction of having a successful chapter and successful chapter meetings is great.
What do you see being one of the largest challenges for the future of risk management?
Regulatory compliance is always a challenge. Compliance can be complex, costly, and ever-changing. Keeping up with relevant laws, regulations, codes, and case law can almost be a full-time job in itself.
How will PARMA respond to that challenge?
PARMA and its amazing sponsors have been able to help public entities keep updated on the dynamic legal environment. I believe they will continue to do so in the future.