Submitted by: Ian Waxman, Principle, Navigate

Any successful business leader will tell you that every opportunity worth pursuing requires taking some amount of risk. Yet, with regular headlines describing companies struggling to address cyber-terrorism, new competitive threats and the whims of the economy, risk can no longer be viewed as something we are helpless to control. We have gained retrospection and learned some key lessons – and know now that the best approach to risk management is a proactive, strategic one.

Risk management has become a priority for companies’ executives and their Boards of Directors, and is a critical ingredient to a sound corporate strategy. While some unique risks vary by organization, industry, and geography, here in Philadelphia we see common issues impacting our businesses and the region as a whole.

Craig Snyder, president and CEO of the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, defines risk as the potential for disruption: “We live in an age of disruption, where that which can’t be anticipated is going to happen, and we must be on alert for the ‘unknown’.” Particularly, he notes, significant risks stem from the unprecedented rate of technological, political, and economic change. And while disruption related to technology may bring about new benefits (for example, innovations in healthcare), it can also lead to the elimination of jobs and even the obsolescence of some companies. Further, risk related to terrorism, natural disasters, and cyber-security breaches, among others, may bring about disruption that bear no value for today’s enterprise, yet need to be prepared for thoughtfully and practically.

Rob Wonderling, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, noted some of the key industries vital to business in our region and some risks specific to each. For example, Philadelphia is a national leader in healthcare, an industry undergoing tremendous change such as the transition of the ownership of health data towards the consumer. “Electronic medical records are the most sought-after data on the ‘black market,’ carrying a higher value than any other that digital thieves want to hack and obtain.

Nonetheless, healthcare innovation is key to