James Curnow, Risk All-Stars

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James Curnow
James Curnow
Manager, RMIS, Cyber Insurance, Operations

Kaiser Permanente

What is your educational background?

BA in Psychology with a minor in integrative health. Obtained insurance agent/broker license in the early 1990s. Studied computer science and became a certified network engineer. Professional education has never stopped and includes database management, data governance, Agile methodology, ARM, Workers’ Compensation Claims Management, business process management, Finance and Treasury management and operations, etc.

Did you know you wanted to go into the risk profession? If not, what was your journey to get here?

I wanted to go into mental health. While in school, I worked in insurance legal transcription. After graduation, I was making more money than any mental health starting position, so I stuck with the risk profession and obtained my agent broker license. Getting bored with office work, I started studying computers and worked in insurance broker system support. I transitioned to work as a Healthcare network engineer and loved building and maintaining data centers. After the downturn of the dot.com bubble of the early 2000s, I found myself using a combination of Healthcare, technology, and risk management for Kaiser Permanente for since 2005.

How long have you been working in the risk profession?

More than 20 years in the risk profession. Five years or so as an agent/broker CSA, and then I moved into Healthcare Network Engineering for a decade. I came back to risk management with a hybrid focus on technology and risk for the last 15 years.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love getting people excited about new ideas to improve business process and even more so when it has positive impact on both the cost of risk and improving the lives employees and customers.

Has managing risk changed over the course of your career? If so, how?

Risk management has matured in organizations to include enterprise risk management and has greater line of sight to the C-suite. The need for data, and quality data has increased to support business decisions as well as risk transfer finance methodologies. Data acquisition has moved from emails and spreadsheets to data feeds from data warehouses. Division and department silos have shifted to a more collaborative model. The interconnections of end-to-end business process impacting frequency, severity, and loss prevention are now woven into the company culture.

What advice would you give to someone who is about to start their career in the risk profession?

Funding risk management programs is a cost without a great deal of hard ROI. Most benefits are loss prevention or protecting the balance sheet. It is key to learn how to communicate the value of risk management to leadership. Risk management also depends on solid data from a variety of sources and portfolios in an organization. Establishing shared taxonomy and terminology early on will avoid confusion and open doors to the quality data sources necessary for modern risk management.

Do you have a personal motto? If so, what is it?

Planning without action is a daydream. Action without planning is a nightmare.**source unknown

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