Jill Brooks, Risk All-Star
Director, Risk Management
Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages
What is your educational background?
Undergraduate degree in risk management & insurance from the University of Georgia; MBA in finance & strategy from Southern Methodist University; I also hold multiple professional designations: CPCU, ARM-E, MLIS, CRIS, ERIS
Did you know you wanted to go into the risk profession? If not, what was your journey to get here?
I changed my undergraduate major from international business to RMI after taking an introduction to risk management class at UGA. My first job out of college was doing risk management information systems at an insurance brokerage. I switched to the risk management side a couple years later and have spent the majority of my career as a risk manager, working in various industries, including hospitality, real estate, financial services, manufacturing, and distribution.
How long have you been working in the risk profession?
Over 25 years
What do you love most about what you do?
I enjoy being a resource and a problem solver for my coworkers. Risk management can often be seen as the bad news department or the department that always says no. Instead of always seeking risk avoidance, I prefer to come up with alternative solutions to challenges faced by the company and to provide guidance to help people make business decisions.
Has managing risk changed over the course of your career? If so, how?
It has changed from tactical to strategic. Risk management is no longer seen as just the transactional purchasing of insurance. Risk managers have a voice in financial and operational decisions, such as developing a captive or other alternative risk solutions and providing guidance on why an acquisition is a good or bad decision for the company. The shift of risk management to a more financial focus is what led me to get my MBA. The move to a more holistic view of risk management throughout organizations is why I added the ERM designation to my ARM. When you see the industry shifting, it’s good to add new tools to your toolbox.
What advice would you give to someone who is about to start their career in the risk profession?
Risk management is one of the few departments in organizations that touches all the other departments. When you work in risk management, it really helps to get out and speak with your coworkers – not just by email, but in person and virtually, too. You have to know what’s going on in the company so you can be proactive in managing risks. The best way to do that is to stay connected with folks in all areas of the organization. Let them know you’re a resource for them so they’ll reach out to you when something comes up. Be curious and be helpful!
Do you have a personal motto? If so, what is it?
“I’m not going to tell you no. I’m going to give you the tools to help you make your own decision.” And “I’m sure there’s a way we can get this done.”
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