Crestwood Equity Chief Risk Officer Indya Wilson shares her career journey, the importance of industry connections and what’s new in oil and gas

R&I: What was your first job? I had two jobs. One was a paralegal at a law firm in Wisconsin. They have practiced various types of law, from criminal law, real estate, divorce to taxation. I also worked for a minor league indoor soccer team doing marketing, game day operations and promotions. I was out of oil and…

R&I: What was your first job?

I had two jobs. One was a paralegal at a law firm in Wisconsin. They have practiced various types of law, from criminal law, real estate, divorce to taxation. I also worked for a minor league indoor soccer team doing marketing, game day operations and promotions.

I had no experience in oil and gas or risk management outside of college. I also lived in Wisconsin, where the energy companies are not as present as in Texas. Like I tell people all the time, before I got into this, the oil and gas industry was literally a gas station for me. I had no idea what Mecca is in Texas and the world.

R&I: How did you come to your current position?

My husband and I moved to Texas about 11 years ago, and I just needed a job. I started with an employment agency. They set me up with a temporary position as an executive assistant at Crestwood. I assumed it would be temporary and I would do it while I looked for a job in marketing or finance. Low and behold, 11 years later, I’m still here.

R&I: What has been the biggest change in risk management and the insurance industry since you’ve been there?

The biggest change I’ve seen is the focus on risk management. When I started, workers compensation and auto accidents were front and center due to the development of nuclear auto verdicts and high frequency workers compensation claims we were seeing in our industry. While these risks still exist, there are new risks, such as environmental, social and corporate governance responsibility, cybersecurity and employment practices, which bring a lot of uncertainty to the markets and difficulties for the subscribers to calculate the risk.

The transition from what is more important to an underwriter in a business to what was important to them five to eight years ago has changed. We are all waiting to see what will happen, what type of claims will surface. Will they be costly and contentious?

R&I: What is the biggest challenge you have had to face in your career?

Myself. I work with very talented people—smart, well-educated, articulate people—who have a lot of experience, whether it’s in energy or risk management. I’m surrounded by a lot of brilliant people, which can be intimidating at times. Every day, as I gain experience, I learn to trust my abilities and go out of my own way!

Trusting my own knowledge and experiences has been important and empowering. I overcome my younger self, which was afraid to ask a “stupid” question, to speak up or to make a mistake. Questions… ask them, you will know more! Express yourself… make your knowledge known to others, you will gain more respect. Make mistakes, learn from them, and move on. I am no longer that inexperienced youngster. I have eight years of risk management experience, and I need to trust what I’ve learned and keep persevering.

R&I: Who has been your mentor(s) and why?

I am very grateful to have had a few mentors throughout my professional career so far. My first mentor was at the law firm where I worked. It was my first “office environment”, and she really taught me business etiquette and set expectations. When you’re sitting in a college lecture hall, people wear tracksuits, may not have showered in a few days, and there’s no proper protocol to follow. She really taught me about etiquette and the expectations of a professional.

I had a few mentors at Crestwood, some still at Crestwood, some no longer with the company. Joel Moxley, specifically comes to mind. When I started with Crestwood, he liked that I was a Packer fan, and we developed a friendship over TX vs WI football (obviously I always win). He was an excellent mentor. He taught me a lot about the energy industry, which helped me do my job successfully. Although he has gone on to lead an industry trade association, we keep in touch. Every time I see him, there’s always something to take away from our conversations, whether it’s life advice or career advice.

My father was also an instrumental person professionally. Although we both worked in very different industries and jobs, he instilled in me hard work and perseverance. Up at 4 a.m., he walked into the store, working long hours and never complaining. From an early age, I saw his passion for his career motivating him on a daily basis and I wanted that for me one day. Although I think his work ethic is a bit of an addiction for him, we’re working on it as he gets closer to retirement. If anyone has earned free time, it’s him! He is the best in his field, and his drive and motivation have pushed me to where I am today.

Finally, I had the chance to work with a few brokers who became mentors along the way. Specifically, Blake Koen – he has been part of my risk management journey since the day I started and has been very influential in helping me understand both industries, energy and risk management. It’s always beneficial to have someone who offers an open platform to ask questions, and Blake has always provided that. His knowledge and experience are unmatched, but his humility and down-to-earth personality make him a one-of-a-kind mentor.

R&I: What does the risk management community do?

Something I learned very quickly is that you really have to build the network because relationships are vital – between you and your underwriter, you and your broker and other risk managers. You want to have a good relationship with your brokers and underwriters to understand what the market is doing and what we should expect on renewals. You want to have a good relationship with other risk managers to understand what they are doing with their program and why. These pieces are all part of a bigger pie that helps you succeed with your insurance program. It’s so important to have these relationships. I think Houston’s risk management scene provided a foundation for developing those relationships.

There are many networking events between brokers, carriers; many conferences and training sessions to attend. Houston has its own RIMS chapter that offers events and opportunities throughout the year for you to meet other industry players and help you deepen your knowledge to become a better professional.

R&I: What could the risk management community do better?

There is a large age gap among risk management practitioners in the industry. Many risk professionals, underwriters, brokers and risk managers are reaching the point where they will soon be retiring and no one with over 40 years of experience and knowledge to fill those shoes.

There’s a small group of us in our 30s and 40s, and then there are people in college right now. So there’s this gap that I think there will be a huge demand for soon. I think there’s a lack of talent in our pool and while it’s happening, it’s not there yet.

R&I: How would you say technology has impacted the risk management profession?

It’s a love/hate relationship, there are pros and cons. For example, it has been beneficial from a data perspective, collecting data and having it readily available for analysis can be helpful. That being said, it can also be a downside for businesses. We collect all this data, but what do we do with it? You need to be careful about the technology you use and how it is applied. While the data is great to use for predicting and understanding historical performance, those analytics need to be applied, and I think that’s where the downfall lies.

We have all this data, but we don’t always use it to our advantage. I don’t think it’s intentional at all, I just think we don’t always have the time or manpower to analyze and apply it. We use smaller data sets when we should be using larger sets to make decisions because these give us a better idea of ​​what to expect. The big resignation also added to this technological problem. We all face staffing issues. Additionally, hiring professionals who specialize in data analysis and understanding how to apply the analysis is even harder to find these days.

R&I: What unique risk management challenges have oil and gas companies faced in recent years? What challenges do you think your industry will face in the future?

Cybersecurity and ESG continue to be evolving initiatives that the industry is watching. A strong ESG program remains vital to the industry and is a valuable risk mitigation tool. As companies improve their ESG disclosure around their ESG goals and targets, it is important that they disclose how they will meet and achieve these goals. If that doesn’t happen, there could be a big wave of D&O claims, which will impact the industry.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

“This is where I leave you.” I’m a huge Jason Bateman fan and love his dry humor in this movie. Also, I come from a large family and I can understand the dysfunction that comes with that. Oddly enough, I think the dysfunction brings you together in a weird way, especially with siblings. Our experiences together have formed an irreplaceable bond, and I truly feel it as we grow older. We have new appreciations for each other.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you have ever done?

Parenthood. It’s definitely the riskiest activity I’ve ever done. I love and adore my son, but every day there is a new risk that you may not have time to analyze. Maybe that’s why it’s the most risky? In my work, I have tools, advice and time to evaluate… as a parent, it’s survival of the fittest! &

Courtney DuChene is a freelance journalist based in Philadelphia. She can be reached at [email protected]

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