UMD Smith to Launch Enterprise Risk Consortium

MBA Blog / 5th June 2023

An initiative targeting industry practitioners and students to advance their knowledge and skills in risk management and to provide innovative risk analytics tools and modeling capabilities to institutions is forthcoming from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

The school, through its Office of Executive Education, will launch a Smith Enterprise Risk Consortium during summer 2023 to provide industry-leading insights, applied research and risk analytics, risk management training programs, special events and a paid membership level for customized access to experts and training. 

The consortium will position Smith “as an academic leader in applied risk management through thought leadership, education and outreach to industry and governmental organizations, and by formalizing industry ties to Smith students interested in careers in risk management,” says Clifford Rossi, PhD, professor of the practice and executive-in-residence for the Smith School. 

Rossi will be director of the consortium, and Mary Bittle Koenick, Smith’s associate director of executive education, will act as program director. “A community of practitioners with a vested interest in advancing the field of risk management will drive this initiative,” says Koenick. 

Rossi, with 25 years of experience in risk management in banking and government, says, “The timing is obviously critical; as we’ve seen with evolving climate change events and recent bank failures, crises don’t wait for organizations to get their risk management house in order.” 

Rossi has held several C-level executive risk roles, including Managing Director and Chief Risk Officer for Citigroup’s Consumer Lending Division during the 2008 financial crisis. He adds: “Across private and public sectors, organizations face an array of risks that require consistent and coordinated risk assessment processes.”

With such insight, the Smith School has “a prominent track record in risk management through leading media outlets and as a trusted advisor to corporations, agencies and legislators in risk management,” says Smith Dean Prabhudev Konana. “The breadth of our risk management offerings across outreach, thought leadership and education differentiate the Smith School among academic institutions and puts us in a unique position to engage with key risk constituents.”

Rossi’s work spearheads this positioning.

He recently directed Smith graduate students in a project with Freddie Mac yielding an interactive model that pinpoints U.S. regions with high climate risk and the implications for homeowners and the mortgage industry. A similar effort with Fannie Mae on flood risk is underway, and both projects bolster Smith’s forthcoming graduate track in climate finance.

Also recently, he testified before a Congressional subcommittee on risk models as “insufficient for regulators to mandate climate stress testing.” In previous, numerous Capitol Hill appearances, he’s addressed GSE reform, housing finance reform, bank capital issues and implications of Dodd-Frank on banking. And, the Food and Drug Administration has tapped his expertise to conduct research on mitigating risk in pharmaceutical manufacturing through research grants in conjunction with the University of Maryland Center for Regulatory Science and Innovation (M-CERSI).

With the Smith Enterprise Risk Consortium, Rossi’s work with the leadership council will include setting priorities for research, tools and other resources for corporate boards, executive teams and risk managers at all levels. Collaborating experts will include Executive Risk Fellows Robert Brammer and William Longbrake.

“This is an excellent time for establishing this Enterprise Risk Consortium. There is a growing global recognition of significant risks to government and industry due to extreme weather and climate change, cybersecurity, instability in national economies and many industries, and many other areas,” says Brammer, who serves as a UMD adjunct professor for the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science and the Smith’s Department of Finance and operates a consultancy focused on advanced information technology, environment and climate, and security. “This consortium brings together leading practitioners, researchers and educators to assess these growing risks and develop new approaches to address them.”

Longbrake, an executive-in-residence at Smith since 2009 and senior advisor for the school’s Center for Financial Policy, says: “The new and evolving types of risk like cyber, contagion and model will make financial-sector risk management more transformative in the next 10 years compared to the last decade. So, banks must prepare now or be overwhelmed by the changing requirements and rising expectations of customers.”

The consortium’s pending events include “board bootcamps” – custom engagements for corporate boards – and an inaugural “Risk Summit” as a 2-3-day, in-person event in February 2024. 

For more information, go to the Smith Enterprise Risk Consortium homepage. 

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