Risky business: York symposium looks at risk and accountability

What do accountants, disaster specialists and health-care professionals have in common? More than one might think. Each of these occupations struggles daily with the challenge of having to evaluate and manage risk.

On April 30 from 8:30am to 4pm, the School of Administrative Studies in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) will hold a symposium on the organizational challenges and issues that managers and employees face in terms of risk and accountability.

Participants will learn how risk intersects across these occupations and other fields; consider how accountability influences different risk management processes; and get valuable insight into how organizations can better manage their response to risk through discussions with professionals, practitioners and academics.

Some of the key questions to be explored during the symposium include: How does accountability influence different risk management processes? In what ways are decision-makers’ values and ideals incorporated into risk management?

Workshops will engage participants on topics including financial risk, disaster and environmental risk, and patient risk. Breakout sessions and round table discussions will bring faculty and practitioners together to exchange knowledge and experience on managing and responding to risk.

“The financial crisis has certainly raised our awareness of risk, yet oftentimes when organizations talk about managing risk they are really focusing on demonstrating that they are following due process,” says Professor Joanne Jones (right), organizer of the conference and chair of the school’s research committee. “I think that this rules-based mindset has not fostered the creative thinking that is necessary to balance uncertainty while trying to avoid harm. We hope that by bringing in different viewpoints, that this symposium will encourage that kind of thinking.”

Moshe Milevsky, professor in the Schulich School of Business, will present a keynote that will focus on personal longevity risk – asking the critical question: Will we outlive our money?

Plenary speakers include Antoinette Bozac, vice-president of human resources and legal affairs for the Canada Lands Company, who will discuss managing risk and staying accountable to stakeholders; and York Professor Emeritus Howard Adelman, who will present a talk titled "The Financial Crisis, Early Warning Systems".

Three panels will be held concurrently in the afternoon:

  • Sex, Lies & Computer Tape: Accountants Dream of Taking Risks
    Mark Adams, president of Edenbrook Hill Capital Ltd.
    Jay McMahan, associate partner with Enterprise Risk Deloitte
    Chris Robinson, professor in the School of Administrative Studies, LA&PS
  • Be Afraid – Be Very Afraid: Risk Perspectives on the Environment, Society & Catastrophe
    Adrian Gordon, president & CEO of the Canadian Centre for Emergency Preparedness
    Rodney White, professor emeritus in the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of Toronto
    David Etkin, director of York’s Graduate Program in Disaster & Emergency Management and a professor in the School of Administrative Studies, LA&PS 
  • Risks in Health Care: Complexity is the Easy Part
    Dr. Anne Matlow, professor of medicine at the University of Toronto and medical director of Patient Safety at the Hospital for Sick Children
    Rhonda McGlasson, senior integration consultant for the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network
    Kelly Thomson, professor in the School of Administrative Studies, LA&PS

“We’re very excited to bring together academics and practitioners to discuss the very real challenges that organizations, managers and employees face when it comes to risk management,” says Professor Paul Evans, director of the School of Administrative Studies. “It is our hope that through the exchange of knowledge and experience, participants will walk away ready to rethink the way they view and handle risk.”

Students, faculty and practitioners are welcome to attend. For more details, visit the symposium’s information page.

The symposium has been made possible through funding from LA&PS, York’s Graduate Program in Financial Accountability and contributions from KNOWLEX – The Knowledge Exchange Project, funded by the Social Science & Humanities Research Council of Canada. 

To RSVP, e-mail Merkevia Issac at misaac@yorku.ca or call 416-736-2100 ext. 30332.