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Grace Crickette: The driving force behind UC risk management

Grace Crickette came to the University of California with a mission that was simple yet bold: make UC safer by changing how it operates and save millions of dollars in the process.

A cultural shift is no easy feat, but it’s one Crickette has pushed forward.

Since her arrival in 2004 as chief risk officer in UC’s Office of Risk Management, the university has saved $493 million by increasing the dialogue around risk, reducing losses and implementing innovative prevention programs. Workplace injuries have dropped 34 percent and workers’ compensation claims 47 percent. Data and number crunching help pinpoint areas where risk can be minimized as the university moves from a reactive approach to a proactive one.

“A lot of what we do is behind the scenes. It’s like Disneyland. You go, you have fun but there’s a tremendous amount of work to keep it safe and clean that you don’t see,” Crickette said. “That’s what we want. We want Enterprise Risk Management to enhance people’s experience and become such a part of the culture that it becomes invisible.”

Crickette’s drive and strategic approach not only nets results but it is capturing attention nationally and beyond. Public and private organizations  — from Harvard University to SingHealth, Singapore’s largest health organization — are turning to UC for advice with the hope of achieving similar results. In 2008, Crickette won the Risk Innovator Award for innovation and excellence in risk management in Higher Education, and this year, Business Insurance named her to its Risk Management Honor Roll.

Crickette’s philosophy: risk affects everyone — not just risk managers — whether you realize it or not. It is in the everyday things, from the shoes you wear to the way you sit at your desk to the website you click on.

“Everyone’s a risk manager,” Crickette said.

It is her job and that of her team to equip UC with powerful tools to help it minimize risk, whether it’s a data report that identifies areas for improvement or the Shoes for Crews program that supplies non-slip shoes to food service employees and successfully reduced slip-and-fall injuries by more than 40 percent.

And there’s more to come. Risk Services is hunting for more ways to innovate, cut losses and make UC even stronger in all sectors from the commercial insurance market to health care.

Go to the UC Newsroom for Katherine Tam’s full story, including a Q&A with Crickette and more facts and figures about UC’s Office of Risk Management.

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