Caroline Erdman’s 2021 Annual Conference Reflection

Caroline Erdman
Finance/Risk Management & Insurance Major, University of South Carolina
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I became interested in risk management in the fall of 2019, I was unsure what the field entailed but I was eager to learn more. I took my first risk management course this past spring and my professor encouraged us to apply for the PRIMA Student Scholarship. This is where my journey began with PRIMA. When I first applied, I did not know there was a difference between public and private risk management because I was still very new to the field. When I was lucky enough to receive the scholarship, I realized how many resources I now have to learn about the industry including the Annual PRIMA Conference.

The Annual PRIMA Conference is held every year in a different part of the United States. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic they were unable to host it last year, but this year they created a new version of the conference so everyone could be virtually together. The virtual conference allowed attendees to watch the videos from work or home, but the videos were also recorded, so if needed the sessions could be watched at a later time. Although I wish I was able to attend an in-person conference to meet more people, I feel as if the virtual conference was very beneficial in developing professional connections. There were networking opportunities everyday where one could go into the business exchange and talk to companies such as Munich Re, Aon, and Servpro. I was fortunate enough to talk with these sponsors and learn more about their company culture as well as what a normal day-to-day looks like for them. The networking opportunities were a very unique and personalized experience because it was a one-on-one zoom call with a representative which allowed me to brush up on my professional speaking skills.

Another key part of the conference was the informational sessions about the different types of risk management. There were sessions about almost everything in public risk management and I was lucky enough to get to listen to a lot of them. I was glad that the sessions were recorded because I was able to go back and watch sessions I missed or rewatch parts of a session if I felt like I missed something. My favorite session was the keynote speaker, Nancy Solari. She detailed her experience of being legally blind and how she did not let that stop her in her professional career. Nancy started her own radio show, “Living Full Out," where she motivates people to keep pushing themselves to where they want to be because they will get there if they have a good mindset and drive. I think this was a great way to kick off the morning because she really inspired a lot of people at the conference. The next session that I really enjoyed was “Unforced Errors: Cognitive Psychology for Risk Managers” by Dr. Michael Lacroix. This session piqued my interest because I have taken a few basic psychology classes before, but I was not sure how it would apply to risk managers. In his session, Dr. Lacroix discusses how risk managers do not make decisions instantly, they all have a similar thought process thinking about what the effects of decisions may be before making them.

I learned a lot during my time at the virtual conference and it helped me identify that public risk management would be a great fit for me because there is no average day in the office and everyday is a new and exciting day in the field. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to attend and learn so much about the association and I look forward to attending again next year. 

*The views and opinions expressed in the Public Risk Management Association (PRIMA) blogs are those of each respective author. The views and opinions do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRIMA.*

By: Caroline Erdman
Finance/Risk Management & Insurance Major, University of South Carolina

Caroline Erdman is a sophomore at the University of South Carolina. She is a double major in finance and risk management, and a minor in retail. She is involved in a service sorority, Epsilon Sigma Alpha, and club tennis on campus. She was recently elected treasurer for her sorority for the upcoming academic year of 2021-2022.

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