Like many in the risk management and insurance profession, David Stills found himself in the industry by happenstance. Prior to his position as vice president of global risk management for Walmart, Stills was a certified public accountant and trial lawyer, and even spent some time working as a funeral director. Following a number of years in private law practice and a short stint in government work as chief legal officer for the Arkansas State Police, he began his career at Walmart as an in-house attorney responsible for all tort litigation in the United States. Soon thereafter, his background in law and finance made him a natural fit to take responsibility for Walmart's global insurance and casualty claims.
That was more than 16 years ago. Since then, Stills and his team have seen tremendous change at the company, not only in terms of its size and geographic footprint, but also in the management of its global risks. "I find that the combination of legal and finance knowledge is well suited for managing one of the largest casualty claims and insurance programs in the world, and I encourage aspiring risk managers to get exposure to both," Stills said.
Stills currendy leads a team of more than 550 risk management and finance professionals, helping the world's largest retailer manage volatility stemming from multiple potential perils throughout its more than 11,000 store locations in 27 countries around the world.
Like many companies attempting to stay ahead of potential risks, Walmart executives are embracing technology-based solutions. Stills and his team have implemented several technological advances, including providing instant access to closed-circuit television in Walmart and Sam's Club locations--a program designed to allow claim managers to review video--where it exists--within minutes of an accident before making initial contact with the claimant. According to Stills, this not only enhances the speed of claims management decisions, but it also greatly changes the dynamics of the initial communications with the claimant.
Partnering cross functionally across operations, safety and risk departments, Walmart also implemented a mobile app for accident intake, allowing store management to report a claim from their mobile device at the accident site, rather than later on in the office. This technology can improve the accuracy of claims reporting since it allows statements to be taken, information to be gathered, and...