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By conventional measures, there were no extra resources in the Symantec Corp.’s treasury–or anywhere else at Symantec, for that matter–to accommodate an entire new initiative, let alone an initiative like enterprise risk management (ERM), which requires a company to reevaluate not only the way it approaches risk mitigation but also how it defines risk itself. Still, Symantec’s assistant treasurer and director of finance, Rossini Zumwalt, didn’t hesitate for a second when she was tapped to become a core member of the company’s global risk council. In Zumwalt’s opinion, the key to tackling ERM is not canvassing the board of directors for lots of extra money to hire consultants or buy heavy-duty analytics; the key is making the risk management experts you have in the company–often managers in treasury, operations or information technology–redefine their mission. “ERM is a big word, but you don’t need to be extreme,” Zumwalt says. “We’re starting where it’s more appropriate and more cost effective–engaging people to think beyond what they know as risks.”

Zumwalt is one of a cadre of treasury people at large and midsize companies being called upon these days to help map out their organization’s ERM strategy. While treasury is unlikely to be the final home for ERM at most companies–including Symantec–Zumwalt and other strategically minded treasury executives recognize that treasuries need to be knee-deep in the effort, whether or not they think they have the resources. Why? Because enterprise risk management is en route to becoming a defining strategy for larger concerns. If treasurers want to hold a pivotal role in their company’s future course, they have to be players. “The influence of ERM on how companies manage risk in the future will be so large that I suspect in 10 years we won’t even be using the term enterprise risk management,” says Stephen Baird, a Chicago-based project manager for Treasury Strategies Inc. “It will have become so ingrained that it will become simply part of the fundamentals of good management. I think we are in a comparable situation to quality management in the 1980s.”

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