"Failure is not an option" - the inspiring words of Gene Kranz, former NASA flight director and theme of the forthcoming Risk '98 conference and exhibition. Gary M. Solway reports.
Mr Kranz, who not only guided Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon but also achieved one of the world's toughest rescues when his team brought the disabled Apollo 13 flight safely back to earth, will be the keynote speaker at Risk '98.
The conference, which runs from 16 to 18 September inclusive, develops the highly successful formula used at Risk '96 also held in Guernsey, featuring a core conference with exhibitors from all facets of the risk industry, influential speakers and informative and stimulating workshops.
Risk '98 is aimed at risk managers, insurance managers, finance directors, brokers, captive managers, lawyers, reinsurers, loss adjusters and anyone else connected with risk.
The 1996 event, described by Sir Peter Miller, former chairman of Lloyd's of London, as "a great success" attracted delegates from Bermuda, Dublin, Italy, London, Luxembourg, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States and Zambia, representing a host of international companies and organisations.
A major feature at this year's conference is the updated Risk Project, produced and managed by Glasgow Caledonian University, whereby delegates are teamed up with others to establish a risk strategy for an imaginary company. The project promises to be even more challenging for 1998 and gives both delegates and the risk management students who, with their tutors, devise and manage the game the opportunity to share their knowledge and skills.
The workshop sessions at Risk '98 also promise to create interest and debate with a vast range of subjects being covered. Topics being addressed include: "The environment - the next big issues" led by Kirsty Hamilton of the International Climate Campaign division of Greenpeace. Ms Hamilton, who is regularly involved in advising governmental and inter-governmental agencies such as the United Nations, on issues concerning climatic change, will discuss the issue of desertification.
Margaret Exley, chairman of Kingsley Lord Management Consultants and Evelyn Bourke, senior consultant with Tillinghast Towers Perrin, will discuss surviving the first 100 days of a merger or acquisition in their "Mergers and acquisitions - reducing the risk of failure" workshop. This will show how the risks of failure can be managed and mitigated.
Contingent liabilities will be addressed by John Hanson, partner of Barlow, Lyde & Gilbert. How does one attempt to predict the unpredictable, and how does one prepare the organisation for such unexpected events? These are just two of the sort of questions Mr Hanson will engage delegates in.
Assessing the risks of alternative investment strategies will be the focus of a workshop led by Rodney Benjamin of Bacon & Woodrow and others under the title of "Investments - is the risk worth the reward?"
Among the other workshop topics, Guido Furer of Swiss Re New Markets will discuss "The marriage of the capital and insurance markets"; and Corinne Cunningham of Standard & Poor's will be on hand to debate whether "Insurance and reinsurance ratings work". "Computer failure is not an option" is the title of a workshop by Peter Walker of HSBC. Steve Butterworth, director of insurance at Guernsey's Financial Services Commission, will give a presentation on protected cell companies and Peter Barnes of SURVIVE! Limited will discuss "Surviving the catastrophe". Clive Pracy of Andersen Consulting will lead part of a debate about the need or otherwise of insurance brokers. A suitable adversary is yet to be announced.
Space in the programme is being held to ensure a very topical issue can be included.
An important part of a packed programme are the keynote speakers who include Ken Davidson, president of The Chartered Insurance Institute. Eric Ellen of the International Chamber of Commerce will speak about "Piracy - risks in the 25th century."
A major highlight of the event will be the keynote speech to be given by Mr Kranz, who will share with delegates the invaluable lessons of his 34 years with NASA. Mr Kranz, who has faced some of the toughest risk management challenges on earth . . . and beyond, will be speaking for the first time in the British Isles at Risk '98.
The event also includes a large exhibition of service providers to the risk industry and gives delegates the opportunity to meet with these key people in a relaxed environment. Another added attraction is the beautiful island of Guernsey itself with an opportunity to get a fantastic view of the 1998 Battle of Britain Air Display which features the incredible Red Arrows, who will appear to be within reach as they dart over the nearby harbour area.
Risk '98 is co-hosted by The Guernsey Financial Services Commission and the Guernsey Insurance Company Managers' Association and both bodies are delighted that AIRMIC's Ina Barker will be chairing this year's conference.
Gary M. Solway is joint event co-ordinator, Risk '98.