Written by: Bill Feest
One thing my mother has always taught me is that you’re never finished learning. This has been absolutely true for me this summer during my internship at Votorantim Cimentos. I would like to say that I walked into the office on day one with all the knowledge and tools necessary to complete my project but that wouldn’t be true at all.
Coming from a finance background, the company naturally sent me to their finance department for my internship. However, the project has to do with ERM, or Enterprise Risk Management, something I have no prior experience in. Once I found out about the project scope, I quickly contacted one of our esteemed professors here at Fisher for some help, Dr. René M. Stulz. He graciously gave me some crash course materials which I poured over on the flight down to Brazil, although I still felt quite unprepared upon arrival. Basically my task is to identify, quantify, measure, and assess the company’s risk of a logistics breakdown for the import of the key material they use to fuel their plants, petroleum coke.
I started out by meeting with my colleagues in the risk department to get as much info as I could about how to go about this and where to begin. I then moved over to the logistics department to learn all about the entire logistics chain and find out what keeps them up at night. Into about my second week I started to feel like I at least had a handle on the overall situation and where the issues were, now I just had to find a way to quantify the risks.
For that, I referred back to the material Dr. Stulz provided and tried to keep it simple. I knew I had limited time here and would not be able to dig into extremely complex risk scenarios. So I determined three key measurements that myself and the logistics guys agreed were important indicators. Since then I have been travelling to different offices and plants trying to acquire the data I need to build these indicators. Over the past few weeks the scope of my project has grown and shifted a bit but I have been very conscious to keep it simple, and I think this has been the key to staying on track so far. I have about one week left to work, then begins the tour of presentations to managers, risk owners, and directors. It’s been only five weeks and I think I’ve managed to learn enough to confidently make solid recommendations to this company, but I can definitely say that I am still learning.