By B.G. YOVOVICH, who has written for national trade publications for more than 20 years.
As enterprise risk management soars as a board-level priority, and as overall business interest in risk management is on the rise, it's a great time for risk professionals to raise their profiles, so long as they're willing to do it themselves.
"My advice to any risk manager is, 'Don't wait to be asked, because you won't be.' You need to volunteer," said Carol A. Fox, senior director of risk management at Convergys Corp. "I know one risk manager who got involved in her company's risk council by going to the chair of that committee and offering to take notes. From there, she moved into a central role in the company's ERM effort."
There are plenty of other steps that risk managers can take to expand their roles when a company's ready to implement and ERM program. For example, they can put more emphasis on identifying and helping address common risk issues that are arising in different parts of their organizations.
"As a risk manager, you get opportunities to work cross-functionally because you are not part of any one line of business, and you can reach across an organization and bring people together," said Fox.
Risk managers who are networking effectively know when different parts of the organization are working on similar issues, she said, and they can play a role in bringing those siloed parties together and encourage the team to maintain a holistic vision of risk.
Risk managers also can play an educational role in their organizations.
"One opportunity is to step in to give presentations and lead workshops about risk management for your company, even if you only cover the basics of risk identification and assessment techniques," said North Carolina State University's Mark Beasely, who is Deloitte Professor of Enterprise Risk Management.
Risk managers also can take steps to improve their organization's risk intelligence capabilities and improve their abilities to foresee "knowable unknowns."
At Continental Airlines, for example, Pete Fahrenthold, managing director of risk management said that in the past he would gather risk assessments by asking about controls and sources of information about a company's risks.
"This time around, I will push it a bit farther and ask them things like: how they know that the information is valid and whether in the past they have had a surprise that they had not expected, and was their (information-gathering) system adjusted to correct that?"
Whatever steps risk managers take to raise their profiles, the goal is to emphasize the benefit that a risk management perspective can provide.
Said Fahrenthold: "When you start adding value, executives will begin reaching out to you, and they will say to others, 'Have you talked with risk management about this new opportunity in country XYZ?' "
"You want to be regularly included as a team member so that it becomes automatic that people think, 'We are building this new committee. We need a risk manager to be a part of it,' " he said.
April 1, 2009
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