In his new role as risk management team lead for Fred C. Church, Jim Castrataro is putting his 24 years of experience in strategic planning, leadership, resource identification, operations management, financial stability, and risk mitigation to good use. Jim is working collaboratively with our business clients on developing short- and long-term initiatives that help better manage exposures across a variety of different areas, from financial and organizational to operational and reputational.
Jim’s breadth and depth of understanding of risk management comes from his many leadership experiences in an academic environment. Prior to joining Fred C. Church, he spent most of his professional career working with the Athletics and Business & Financial Affairs departments at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. His last position at Babson entailed overseeing the school’s vast and complex Summer Program. In the following Q&A, you will learn more about Jim’s unique background, skills, and knowledge base, and how he can help businesses like yours proactively address risk and build an organizational culture of safety.
Q: How did your career at Babson College get started?
Jim: I was a student at Babson and graduated in 1993 with a bachelor of science in business administration. It took me a few years after graduating to find my way back there, but once I did, I stuck around for nearly 25 years. My first job roles were with the Athletics department coaching the men’s lacrosse team and the men’s and women’s ski teams. I became head coach of both in 1995.
One of the pivotal experiences of my coaching journey, and what I consider my first risk management role, was serving as president of the MacConnell Division Ski Racing League. The league was made up of 10 teams, 30 coaches, and 150 athletes that converged on weekends at the same mountain to race. As league president, I was accountable for scheduling and planning race events, analyzing and forecasting the budget, staying on top of United States Collegiate Ski & Snowboard Association and league regulations, and maintaining all safety protocols. I was the final “go” or “no go” say on the racecourse setup, which meant pausing a race if there was an issue or canceling a race if factors such as weather were going to make an already inherently dangerous sport even riskier. The safety of the skiers was always my No. 1 priority as a coach, and I took it very seriously that parents were putting their trust in me to safeguard their children. This period in my life sparked a career-long commitment to youth protection.
Q: When did you start working with Babson’s Summer Program?
Jim: In 2000, I was brought on board as an assistant director. At the time, the program consisted of several sports-related camps that occurred on campus between June 15 and August 15 every year. It was a fairly small operation at the time without much structure, but, from my perspective, it had a lot of potential. My initial focus was on marketing and getting more youth to participate. I also helped implement systems enabling better oversight of the program’s daily operations. For example, I worked with the local board of health and medical professionals both on and off campus to develop a process to track camp injuries.
Q: How did the Summer Program and your role continue to evolve?
Jim: Over the next five years, the number of sports camps grew, as did the number of kids on campus each summer. During a full-capacity week, we could be responsible for the logistics and safety of as many as 1,500 youth between the ages of six and 18. Our program budget and staff had to increase to meet the growing demand. In addition, we expanded the Summer Program to include oversight of conferences, special events like the Pan Mass Challenge, and academic programs such as an overnight summer study program for high school students.
As a result of the program’s evolution, my role also changed, from focusing mainly on marketing and logistics to spending most of my time on overall risk management. By 2006, when I became the director of Summer Programs, my primary responsibility was assessing, recognizing, and minimizing potential threats to the youth, staff, and others participating in summer campus activities.
Q: What was the motivation for switching industries after so many years at Babson?
Jim: Babson College was already an education client of Fred C. Church at the time I was promoted to director of Summer Programs. When I needed knowledgeable guidance on some potential areas of exposure, I was introduced to two of the company’s commercial lines specialists, Chris Duble and Jeff Olsen. This kicked off an incredibly valuable 15-year relationship with the team at Fred C. Church. Through the years, we worked together to constantly review and enhance the safety protocols of the Summer Program, which included the development of something very close to my heart: the Youth Protection Program. This program formalized the policies, processes, and procedures required of any external group that wanted to run a youth summer program on Babson’s campus, including background checks and training guidelines for staff, setting up police details, and emergency planning.
The risk management team lead role was appealing because it offered me a rare opportunity to take all those years of accumulated risk management knowledge and skills in the education arena and now apply it to businesses across a wide variety of industries. I’m excited to bring a distinct risk management perspective and vision to this team.
Q: How can the risk management team help business clients?
Jim: The risk management team has always been a resource for business insurance clients who want to gain a better understanding of their specific exposures and seek recommendations on ways they can minimize these threats. In the past, though, the department tended to be more reactionary. The focus was on responding to client requests rather than getting out ahead of what current and potential clients might need from us.
This is one of the major strategic changes I am engaged in for our department—reenvisioning how we can proactively interact with clients and support them in planning for risk. While we will continue to offer clients a live person they can talk with when they have questions or concerns, we also want them to have easy access to helpful risk management tools so they can quickly and efficiently solve problems independent of us.
One of these tools is already available to our clients. We maintain and support a Risk Management Center where business insurance clients can find automated online training programs, tools for building and managing a company safety program, ways to track incidents and spot trends, and more.
I’m also passionate about having the risk management team work hand in hand with Fred C. Church’s client executives across all industry specialties. In fact, I’ve been hitting the road with the client executives as often as possible. Regular site visits like this are essential so that my team can be an active participant and add value to the risk management process from the start of a new project or client relationship.
Finally, the risk management team offers many value-added services, from monthly webinars to weekly email updates on timely risk-related topics and customized Table Top discussions that may help clients prepare for unexpected events and their consequences.
My team and I truly bring a fresh perspective, real-life experience, and long-term strategic thinking to the risk discussion. We are eager to have more business insurance clients take advantage of all that we can do for them.
Need Risk Management Guidance for Your Organization?
The risk management process and in-house team at Fred C. Church are two features that set us apart from our competition. We collaborate with companies across a variety of industries to identify, assess, and develop plans to mitigate strategic, financial, operational, organizational, and reputational risk. Our risk management offerings include loss prevention service plans, risk evaluations and assessments, and periodic risk management forums. In addition, we can offer support for enterprise risk management, activity program audits and risk assessments, safety audits and assessments, fleet safety programs, workers’ compensation safety manual reviews, ergonomic assessments, foreign travel program audits, policy and procedure reviews, and more.
Whether you’re a client of Fred C. Church or an organization looking for assistance on a consultative basis for a specific project, you can tap into the risk management team’s wealth of knowledge. Please reach out to Jim via email to schedule a meeting.