Annmarie Schouw, winner of the FERMA-CRE Risk Manager Lifetime Achievement Award 2018, has an engineering background and works in a very technical industry, steel production. She also responds with enthusiasm to the potential for enhanced data analysis in managing risk. Yet she also stresses the human side of risk management and the importance of making connections as part of her job.
Annemarie is Manager Risk and Insurance for Tata Steel Europe, part of the enormous Tata multinational conglomerate. “Being a technical engineer gives me the ability to understand the processes and work that is being done in the steel industry and in Tata, because it is a very technical company,” she explains but immediately adds that technical skills alone are not enough for a risk manager.
“You also have to be curious and genuinely interested in what you’re doing and what is going on in your company. You need to handle all stakeholders, internal and external. You build the bridges between the ground floor and the board room. As the risk manager, you are connecting the dots between what happens in various places in the company because you move around. That’s a unique position.”
Annemarie has been involved in risk management in various functions since leaving university, and she is a leader of the risk management community in the Netherlands, including serving as board member and President of NARIM. It was NARIM that nominated her for the award, citing her extraordinary achievements. One of these, Annmarie herself regards as a highlight of her career, although she immediately says that at that time they were challenging times for the company.
She is referring to a complex business continuity claim that resulted from a 2010 fire in a pickling line, a unit operation in steel production, at Tata Steel Ijmuiden where she is based. Annemarie explains that to deal with the loss and determine the financial impact, she put together a multidisciplinary team of risk and finance professionals. She worked closely with insurers, insurers’ loss adjusters, loss consultants, brokers and Tata Steel Ijmuiden colleagues to determine what happened and how to reduce the impact on customers.
“We had to go into all the details and understand all the different processes that add to the profit and loss account. I had to contact virtually every corner of the company, and I learned the company inside out. That was a highlight for me. In insurance market terms, the claim was resolved quickly. It showed the company what risk management brings into the equation, and it was like a new standard for dealing with big claims,” she explains.
Annemarie has always been a great supporter of education. She believes it’s important to develop professional competences and standards, and the FERMA’s rimap certification provides a structured programme that gives a clear identity to the profession.
Winning the award brought Annemarie an outpouring of warmth from across Europe from colleagues, the insurance community and in her company. There were articles in the Dutch press and risk management press and it was on LinkedIn and other social media. “Risk management is a profession but for me it definitely is also my passion,” she says.