Meet a Member: Phillip Mahan of Serta Simmons on Talking Risk to the Business in the Language of the Business

Phillip Mahan, Director, IT Privacy, Risk and Compliance at Serta Simmons Bedding likes to explain risk with an analogy to flipping a coin. You may think the heads vs. tails odds are 50-50, but they could be 33% if the coin lands on its side. In fact, they could be 25% if a bird flies by and grabs the coin in the air.

Luke Bader is Director, Membership and Programs, for the FAIR Institute 

“So, when I talk about risk, I talk about bird insurance – in technology you never can tell what could go wrong. There are things that probably won’t go wrong but you still might need bird insurance.”

“With FAIR, being able to find the SMEs, quantify things and get a little better story, helps a lot.” 

In our conversation, we covered more communication tips he’s developed in a 28-year career in IT – like his four-part classification system for bucketing risk: Safe, Risky, Foolish and Fatal. “Having that defined for the business is critical, so that they know the difference between risky, foolish and fatal.”

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