A Day in the Life Series, brought to you by FuturePLUS, dives into different roles in the Professional Liability industry to give readers an idea of what a typical day for the role looks like.

This edition of A Day In The Life provides a glimpse into what the typical day looks like for a Risk Consultant. Ann Fiala from Coverys has generously volunteered to enlighten our audience with her insights. In this edition we will discuss Ann’s background, the skills that ensure success as a risk consultant and morning routines.

Risk Consultants work with assigned clients to assist them in identifying and mitigating risk in their organizations. At Covers, Ann also handles a ‘consultation line’ for urgent issues, for those clients that do not meet the threshold to have a dedicated consultant. In addition to direct client work, Risk Consultants often create risk management resources based on most frequent client questions and/or pain points within the client’s insurance space.

What is your current position? What was your major in college?
Senior Risk Specialist. I have been with Coverys risk management for 7 years now, the last three as a specialist. I was introduced to the risk management team at a national risk chapter (ASHRM) conference in Los Angeles. I spent time with the group and asked them to let me know if a position opened up. They did and here I am.

What positions have you held to date? Why did you get into the insurance industry?
I have worked as a RN in a variety of settings from heart transplant to home care. My more recent hospital experience was as a director of Quality/Risk/Compliance and all things that fit under that role. I oversaw a team that addressed infection control, regulatory readiness, education, medical staff credentialing, data analytics, case management, patient representatives, utilization review… and probably more that I’ve forgotten. 

What do you love most about your position?
I really enjoy helping our clients think through risk related issues and being a resource for them.

What professional designations do you hold (if any)?

What skills make someone successful in your position?
I think that having worked in such a variety of healthcare settings from the bottom to the top has helped me a great deal. I understand and can empathize with what my clients are going through because I was them at one time. Essential skills for Risk Consultants would be empathetic listening, critical thinking, and the ability to talk with multiple types of professionals at their level.

Nice to haves… it helps to have a clinical background or applied history but that isn’t essential.

What does your morning routine consist of?
Typically, I start at 8:00 a.m. I review and respond to emails. Review my ‘to do’ list for the week… and yes, it’s on paper. (I create a new list at the end of every week so I do not lose track of key projects I ‘m working on. Kind of old school.)

Each day is dictated by what I’m working on at that moment. This week, I’ve finalized an assessment report and presentation, participated in committees and team assignments, answered any and all client questions that come through, prepped for future planned services (travel, folder prep, client communication), and will take a writer’s workshop class.

What tips do you have for hosting meetings effectively?
Be prepared and make sure you get materials to participants ahead of time. You can’t have productive meetings if there isn’t a clear understanding of purpose and what’s going to be discussed.

What do you do to ensure you are progressing in your career and continuously learning?
As a risk consultant, I am constantly learning. I need to keep up with journals, studies, best practices, etc. in order to be of any use to my clients. I am happy with my current career and position so I’m not looking at “progressing” in that aspect.

How has COVID-19 changed your daily habits?
Prior to COVID, 50% of my time was spent traveling to clients and meeting with different individuals. I haven’t traveled in 2 years. All of our work has become virtual.

Client contact has been impacted as well. Many organizations have been stressed and focused on dealing with the influx of patients.

I am just now starting to plan onsite trips.

What is the most challenging part of your day and how do you tackle it?
I can’t say that I have any super big challenges that are consistent. Things can get stressful when handling the consultation phone line for the day… we may get 2 calls or 20… one never knows.

Additionally, we have A LOT of meetings… often times one after the other. It can be a challenge to just make sure you’re taking care of basic needs.

(Editor’s Note: it is a great practice to schedule virtual meetings so that they end 5-minutes before the half-hour or hour in each timeslot. This ensures that you have enough time to refill your drink, go to the bathroom, or just maintain sanity)

What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t underestimate yourself and don’t be lazy! I had the opportunity to go to law school all-expenses paid… I decided to wait because I was sick of being in school. Not good!

But I would also say, everything will work out so stop worrying so much.

What is one of your goals you are working towards and have not yet accomplished?
Retirement. Seriously… I want to do the best job I can, support my team and then ride off into the sunset… preferably on a lake.