The interrelationship of two issues confront corporate risk managers as they gather for their annual convention in Philadelphia in April—the volatile economy and the tightening property and casualty insurance market. The former is squeezing budgets, while the latter is ballooning costs—obviously not the best of circumstances.

Still, risk managers are used to pressure-cooker responsibilities. To give you an idea of the vital role they play, we turned to Deborah M. Luthi, president of the Risk and Insurance Management Society, and asked for a sampling of what's on her plate. Luthi is the enterprise risk manager for San Francisco's Public Utilities Commission, which serves 2.6 million customers throughout the Bay Area.

The city where Tony Bennett left his heart is in the thick of a $4.6 billion retrofit to its water system, which crosses three earthquake faults in the 67 miles from Yosemite to San Francisco. San Francisco is also embarking on a $5 billion to $7 billion upgrade of its sewer system, which is nearly 1,000 miles long. Anything threatening the completion of these projects or their functionality is Luthi's job to battle.

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