As a Risk Management practitioner in a fast-paced environment, I enjoy solving problems and being part of the solution to business challenges as they arise.
This is why sometime this year I took a decision to leave the organisation I served for over six years to work for an organisation that is currently undergoing change and ownership transition.
This was an intentional move which I saw as an opportunity to grow and be part of a transformation through adding value from a risk management perspective. I have been privileged and entrusted with driving risk maturity in a more complex and changing environment, and I couldn’t be more excited! It is without doubt that change is risky. However, if we don’t change, we will not harness the opportunity that comes with it. Change is therefore the risk we take to explore a new opportunity. While it is all exciting, the question I asked myself though, was what is required of risk management in a time of transition and change?
In this article, I unpack some aspects on the role of risk managers in a transition. It is important to understand that risk is an enabler and not ‘friction.’ And during a transition and time of change, it is inevitable that there will be a lot of aggression towards sales and growth, and this is where Risk Managers tend to be the least wanted team members in the organisation due to their inherent pushback on some of the aggressive strategies.
However, Risk Management practitioners should be part of the solution, and it is important that they are present, resilient and are able to support the organisation to withstand the challenges associated with change. This means that Risk Managers need to be hands-on and deeply engaged in all strategic conversations to ensure that risk management remains a major consideration. Even in a time of change or a transition, risk management continues to support growth and ensures that the growth is sustainable. Below are some of the key tenets to managing risk in a transition.
A fast paced and changing environment requires agility and a change mindset. We all have to be deeply engaged and ready for the array of the emerging enterprise-wide risks, particularly the operational risks that can ensue. Agility, from a risk management perspective, means everyone in the organisation must be ready to manage risk differently. The way we manage risk in the ordinary day-to-day business changes with the business strategy. Similarly, the frequency of risk reporting must change to shorter terms such as weekly and bi-weekly to promote early detection and response to issues. The visibility of the risk team also becomes crucial, and despite the conflicting priorities, they have to show up for all project and process meetings to ensure that risk management continues to be embedded and is not left behind.
- Balancing risk and reward
It is important to take on opportunities within the organisation as part of the growth agenda. However, it is also important to not disregard what could go wrong. Everyone in the organisation should be aligned to the change agenda and have an appreciation of the associated risks and the willingness to address the risks. Across all the levels within the organisational hierarchy, all employees must be aligned to the growth strategy of the organisation while also bearing in mind the associated risks and the management thereof.
- Prioritising proactive risk identification
In a transition, there are many moving parts and a lot is changing at a rapid pace. This means that there are many emerging risks that the organisation needs to consider and be on the lookout for. This therefore means that identifying risks in a changing and fast-paced environment needs to be enhanced. The organisation should equally be prepared to deploy more Risk Managers to drive the risk management strategy and ensure proactive risk management across all the services, processes and products.
- An enabling risk culture
In a time of change, it is imperative that the risk culture also changes. For this cause, everyone in the organisation is a Risk Manager. All employees must be on the lookout for not just the downside but also the opportunities in risk. Risk Managers also come in to support the business in navigating the upside of risk and unpack the opportunities that were previously overlooked that can actually bring more reward to the organisation. An enabling risk culture is crucial to driving the risk mindset.
The past three months have taught me that change is fun. As a risk management practitioner, embracing change is giving me an opportunity for growth. It keeps one captivated and open to learning. There will definitely be sleepless nights, and the pressure that comes with trying to ensure that all associated risks are identified and have sufficient mitigating controls. In closing, I urge all Risk Management practitioners to continue striving for impact and growth.
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