PARMA Member Spotlight

Meet DeAnna Soria, Risk Manager, 
City of Huntington Beach


Tell me about how you became a risk manager?


I started working in a claims office (Kemper Insurance) years ago, in National Accounts, as a transcriber.  Imagine that! I stayed with this insurance company (which eventually sold off their products and became a TPA) for 16 years, - and by the end of my tenure there I had promoted to Business Development.  After exposure to all facets of claims, underwriting, and marketing with this TPA I left the claims arena and went to work for a national healthcare company (St. Joseph Health System) in Risk Finance Department.  This allowed me to connect with other Risk professionals on the employer side, and the opportunity to work for City of Orange fell into my lap. After 8 years at City of Orange, I took the leap to City of Huntington Beach and after 1 year I promoted to Risk Manager.   


What are the rewards you experience professionally by being a PARMA member?

The educational and networking opportunities are invaluable!  I believe PARMA has set the bar for organizations that seek quality education and information to assist those with everyday challenges they may experience in the workplace.  

How has your professional knowledge expanded by interacting with other PARMA members?

I have learned and gained so much from interacting with my PARMA members.  Each risk professional has something to offer and something great they can share.  I enjoy learning from each person and making permanent relationships whether they are with a local agency or on the vendor side.  I have been able to expand my knowledge and become successful in my own role with the help of my PARMA colleagues.

When did you start realizing you wanted to move into a leadership role within PARMA?

I realized this after I attended my first SoCAL PARMA Chapter meeting years ago.  Then I attended my first PARMA Conference, and there was no question that it was a stellar organization so I decided to volunteer.  There was a Vice-Chair slot open and I was accepted/approved to take on the role.  After 2 years as Vice-Chair there was a slot open for Chair, and again I was approved to take this leadership role which has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in my Risk Management career.

After being a member in PARMA for some time now, how essential was joining your professional association?

A main goal of risk management is to make sure the organization only takes the risks that will help it achieve its primary objectives while keeping all other risks under control.  If an organization defines objectives without taking the risks into consideration, chances are they will lose direction once any of these risks hit home.  It is essential/critical to understand and continue to gain the most current and relevant risk management knowledge out there, so joining PARMA was key to ensuring that I was making very informed decisions for the organization.   

How would you respond to a risk manager who says they don’t have time to participate in PARMA and /or moving towards a leadership position?

I would definitely encourage them to participate and reap all the benefits of PARMA.  In a leadership role it is very rewarding and satisfying to know that you gave back to the risk management arena, and by doing this you’re helping other risk management professionals remain experts in their field. 

What do you see being one of the largest challenges for the future of risk management?

I think most senior executives understand risk management and the good ones practice it instinctively.  However, many middle managers believe “my executives don’t get it”.  I believe the organizations, from the top down, must be transparent, communicate, and rely more on Risk Management professionals that have the expertise to assist the organization with their overall business strategies.  Risk Management should not be outsourced, it should remain within the organization with the right governance structure so that the risk acceptance can be formally communicated and accountability assigned appropriately.   

How will PARMA respond to that challenge?

PARMA will continue with their commitment to delivering strong, consistent value to members and in raising the profile of the Risk Management profession so that these professionals will be equipped to handle the demands and/or challenges that come their way in the workplace setting and truly allow them to showcase their knowledge to the organization.