Risk Management & Optimism

I am an optimist. That might surprise you given that a big part of my job as OCP’s CFO is risk management.

You might wonder, “Does an optimist even notice risk? How can someone who sees every half- empty glass as half-full protect a company from unfair contract clauses, customer nonpayment, safety hazards, estimate misses, claims, pending change orders, supply chain disruption, theft or fraud, cybercrime, and reputation risk?”

Luckily, imagining the worst isn’t required for managing risk! At OCP, we use processes built on industry best practices, and I am always curious about what more I can learn and implement that will lead to more positive outcomes. That’s where CFMA comes in.

CFMA Resources

Take a look at CFMA’s Course Catalog at www.cfma.org/courses for a number of programs that address at least one area of risk in our business. Check the events page at www.cfma.org/events where you can find webinars, chapter meetings, and national and regional conference sessions that address risk management topics. Designed and taught by industry experts, these learning opportunities contain the latest information and are updated as insurance, regulations, laws, and market or economic conditions change.

But, as I said at the Chairman’s Luncheon during CFMA’s 2021 Hybrid Conference in July, “High-quality content is only a part of the magic. You are the magic!”

You share your experiences on the Connection Café, at chapter meetings and conferences, and in CFMA Peer Groups.

You ask and answer questions and even share samples for things like:

  • safety programs
  • contract clauses
  • forecasting templates
  • prequalification processes

The more we engage, the more we learn from each other.

At CFMA’s 2009 Annual Conference & Exhibition, I attended an emergency management planning course taught by Cal Beyer and Brian Cooney. Brian shared lessons learned after his company survived Hurricane Katrina. One suggestion was to set up a communication plan that would allow company leadership to contact every employee in case normal communication channels were disrupted in an emergency. They also talked about identifying who should talk to the media before a crisis ever happens and making that clear to everyone at the beginning of an actual event.

I came back and shared this information with our safety director, and a decade later, this preparation was invaluable when we needed to contact our entire workforce at once with clear instructions about where to direct media or other questions.

COVID-19 Response

In March of 2020, we became aware of the global pandemic, and the CFMA staff and our network of member volunteers responded with content immediately. From webinars on various Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security Act (CARES Act) provisions, to navigating Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and various credits, to community sharing of safety protocols, HR policy changes, vaccination incentives, hazard pay, and more, our Association showed up, ready to assist.

Regulations and laws change, economic and market conditions shift, and an emergency can arise without warning. I am optimistic about the ability of our Association and our CFMA community to respond, keeping me up to date with industry best practices and recommendations based on firsthand experiences.

The magic of our CFMA community combined with unmatched content is the perfect place to “Pursue Curiosity.” As you read the articles on risk management in this issue of CFMA Building Profits, I hope you will question what you think you know in order to spark your own curiosity.

I am interested to know what you discover. Share your new risk management insights with me on the Connection Café. 

Copyright © 2021 by the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA). All rights reserved. This article first appeared in September/October 2021 CFMA Building Profits magazine.

About the Author

Pamela Hepburn

Pam Hepburn, CCIFP, is the CFO of OCP Contractors, Inc., a mid-sized metal framing and interior finishes contractor serving Ohio and neighboring states.

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