Risk Management student wins national research-paper contest

April 29th, 2015 //

Hayley LeatherIn 10 years, Hayley Leather would like to own a zoo.

With this professional aspiration in mind, the 22-year-old Fox School of Business student has focused her efforts on attaining the business expertise every zookeeper requires, while studying within Fox’s Risk, Insurance and Healthcare Management department.

Leather’s research paper in a related area – into the 2010 British Petroleum (BP) oil spill that devastated animal habitats in the Gulf of Mexico – won the 2015 American Association of Managing General Agents (AAMGA) White Paper contest.

Her essay, titled Why the BP Macondo Gulf Blowout is Important…and It’s Not What You Think, explores the complexities and uses of additional insured status and contractual indemnity in the oil industry, and the potential effects of restrictions. Leather synthesized legal precedent and interviewed experts in the field to uncover how unusual anti-indemnity strategies could change the face of risk contracting in the oil industry.

“This wasn’t anything that had been done before,” said Leather, a Risk Management and Insurance major. “Previously companies just did as they assumed, but BP really challenged all that.”

Winning essays were deemed to have communicated the significance of risk management in the future of wholesale, excess or surplus insurance lines in the manner of previous White Paper winners. Leather, one of two winners nationally, received $2,000 for her award-winning paper and an expenses-paid trip to Washington D.C. in May 2015 to attend the AAMGA Annual Meeting. While there, a mentor from the risk industry will be paired with Leather.

“I’ll be able to hear what’s going on in the industry and have a contact to talk to the whole time to explain it to me,” Leather said.

Leather credits Storm Wilkins, Assistant Professor of Risk, Insurance, and Healthcare Management, with encouraging her to enter the contest. Wilkins also serves as faculty advisor for Temple’s Sigma Chapter of the risk management fraternity, Gamma Iota Sigma, of which Leather is a member. Leather, who had written previously on the BP crisis, knew that expanding upon the topic for the contest made sense, given her interest in animal welfare and risk management.

“Hayley researched the issues thoroughly, and even reached out to an industry expert to ensure that her work was first-rate,” Wilkins said. “I encourage my students to enter competitions such as the AAMGA White Paper contest because it allows them showcase their abilities beyond Temple University.”

Leather, who transferred into the Fox School in Summer 2014, said her brother, Jonathan, FOX ’09, pushed her into the Risk Management field. Previously, she had been a science major.

“I wasn’t happy with the idea of staring at a computer or microscope all day. I didn’t want to do that,” Leather said. “I love business in general and something that is important to all business is managing the risks.”

Merging her love of animals with her penchant for business, Leather has interned with the Navy Marine Mammals Program in San Diego. Somewhat closer to home, the native of Cheltenham, Pa., also has interned as a zookeeper at the Wild World of Animals in Eighty Four, Pa. Leather hopes to one day work for SeaWorld Entertainment, managing risks for one of the organization’s seven parks, before applying her business savvy when opening her own zoo.

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