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Risk Management in Action

Leading up to the U.S. national election, a group of PCSB risk management students, under the direction of finance professor Kevin McMahon, teamed up with a non-partisan group of mapping scientists to contribute to a real-time map depicting current and potential election-related violence across the nation. Titled the Election Incident Report, or EIRUSA2020, this crowd-sourced platform was used by companies to keep their assets, supply chains, and people safe. Several major corporations utilized it to prepare their physical locations and staffs appropriately. It also helped families determine the safest routes to work, school, and voting locations. 

“I’m thrilled our students have this opportunity to see risk management in action and are engaging in our democratic process in such a proactive way,” commented PCSB dean Dr. Sylvia Maxfield. “It provides an excellent chance for students to live the PCSB value as a force for good in society.” 

After successfully completing required training, the PC students used Tweetdeck to monitor social media chatter in certain parts of the country at specific hours day and night in order to identify incidence or early premonitions of violence. Their reports were conveyed to a verification team and/or the escalation team, which followed up on their intelligence. 

“This was an impactful experience as our students learned the power of global diversity in action,” said McMahon. “They worked virtually alongside programmers in Kenya, a digital humanitarian on a Scottish sheep farm, a robotics specialist in California, a geo-mapper operating from a boat house on the Norwegian sea, and other U.S. college professors. They appreciated the irony that the software platform that America turned to in its time of need was technology developed in the “Silicon Savannah” of Nairobi. A few of them are likely to continue to further develop their ‘digital humanitarian’ skills as these techniques are relevant not only to monitoring election violence, but also hurricanes, earthquakes, pandemics, and other natural disasters.” 

A generous gift from alumnus Tom Freeman ‘73 helped launch a risk management track within the PCSB finance department in the fall 2019 semester. Led by professors Dr. Vivian Okere and McMahon, it is one of the few risk management programs offered at the undergraduate level. 

The track comprises a collection of courses designed to prepare students to sit for the Certified Credit Essentials exam, to have a career in the growing risk management field, and to be attractive prospects for the top risk management graduate programs. In fact, students who successfully complete the PCSB risk management track are given priority consideration and a tuition discount at the St. John’s University risk management program.  A couple of graduating students are already taking advantage of this opportunity. Maybe they will cross paths with Father Shanley on the St. John’s campus next fall!!!