Risk Control Manager Clem Zabalza is driven by the ultimate purpose of risk management: to protect people's lives. He and his team of Risk Control, Human Resources and Law Enforcement consultants support TAC Risk Management Pool members throughout the state.
"Clem leads by example, and his incredible work ethic is grounded in our mission to serve members," said Michael Shannon, Director of Risk Management Services. "Pool members have access to an incredible resource through personalized consulting and training offered by Clem’s team. Members can rely on them for answers to their questions."
Zabalza joined TAC in 2018 after a 20-year stint at the Texas Association of School Boards, where he managed the Risk Management Member Solutions division. He shared more about himself and his background.
How did you get into risk management?
I fell into it. In 1992-93, I had been working in Information Technology at Texas Workers' Compensation Insurance Fund, the precursor to Texas Mutual. I was one of 1,000 applicants for a six-month program to train risk control consultants, and one of only 30 people chosen to participate. That’s how I got started. Twenty-seven years later, and I still find enjoyment and satisfaction in the work. When I conduct a training, I tell attendees: "At the end of the day it's about you going home safe and sound. You deserve to enjoy life with your families and enjoy what you’ve worked so hard for each and every day. That’s what safety and risk control is all about."
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the team’s work?
At the beginning of the pandemic, members understandably had so many questions about how to best keep their employees safe. However, the most frequently asked questions were related to HR, the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act impact to counties, and how to implement certain aspects of the law in relation to the Family and Medical Leave Act. Our HR Consultants sat at their computers, refreshing their screens, waiting for the Department of Labor to post the revised regulations so they could comb through them and quickly provide the latest information to our members.
We place a high value on personalized customer service, so it’s been a challenge transitioning our service delivery to virtual. So much of our work is typically in the field — providing in-person training, visiting with members for one-on-one consulting, inspections and more. All of us are ready to be able to travel again to member counties.
"At the end of the day it's about you going home safe and sound. You deserve to enjoy life with your families and enjoy what you've worked so hard for each and every day. That's what safety and risk control is all about."
Clem Zabalza, TAC Risk Control Manager
What are you most proud of?
I'm a first-generation American. My parents are both from Mexico and immigrated to the United States before I was born. They were migrant farm workers, and they instilled in my siblings and me the value of education and a strong work ethic. I was the first in my generation to go to college and earn a degree. I have an undergraduate degree in finance and marketing from St. Edward’s University and a Master of Science in Occupational Safety degree from East Carolina University.
I've had so many mentors and guardian angels who have helped me on my path, starting with my family and including some great managers and colleagues. Now I try to be that mentor for my team.
What's on the horizon for Risk Control Services
We have been implementing a new risk management information system (RMIS) that will incorporate our underwriting services, claims and risk control activities in one system, which will allow our teams to better collaborate and coordinate our service delivery to members. When it’s fully built out, we’ll also be able to offer more self-service options through a member portal, which we’re excited about.
Before the pandemic, we were working on several training initiatives including a hands-on training course for suicide prevention in jails that included a classroom set of medical mannequins. We’re looking forward to bringing this new training, along with our other county-specific training courses, to our members when we can provide in-person trainings again.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I'm a tech gadget guy, particularly Apple technology. I enjoy watching the Apple keynote presentations to learn what new products are being released. I also enjoy cycling, and my wife and I have two beloved Chihuahuas that are like our kids.