BarnOwl Info Sharing session: 27 July 2017
The Role of the Future Risk Manager
Presented by Christopher Palm, Chief Risk Advisor, Institute of Risk Management SA (IRMSA)
Thank you very much to Christopher Palm for his enlightening presentation at our BarnOwl info sharing event held at the BarnOwl customer centre in Bryanston on the 27th July 2017. The event was well attended and very well-received. Thank you Christopher.
The content of Christopher’s presentation was much more than just theory; Christopher’s delivery of the presentation included practical insights and advice based on many years of real-life risk management experience. Christopher spent 27 years at Eskom working his way up from Group Audit Manager and Head of Forensics to Head of Enterprise Risk where he established the integrated risk management capability in 2008 and thereafter to a senior executive level. Imagine being the CRO during all the trials and tribulations of the power failures in the late 2000s! Christopher’s most valuable experience throughout his time at Eskom was the gaining of and understanding of world class risk and resilience knowledge, experience and exposure and how it is challenged in practice.
One of the key points which I took out of Christopher’s presentation is that the management of risk is about better and faster decision making for ‘planned reward’ rather than just a reactive approach to mitigate something bad. This talks to the nuances of King IV which requires the governing bodies of organisations to ensure that “active opportunity identification” is conducted. These are stand-alone opportunities that are not necessarily aligned with any downside risk. For more information on opportunity risk see: http://www.barnowl.co.za/insights/risk-and-opportunity-a-new-paradigm-or-old-news/ written by Gert Christiaan Cruywagen..
Christopher spoke about the management of risk not just being about issuing a report but rather engaging with your organisation in a meaningful way, not sugar coating things, having the uncomfortable discussions and becoming ‘mind changers’. Christopher spoke about risk management becoming predictive and forward looking. For example, what is the point of reporting on the state of your quarter 1 risks at the end of quarter 2? We need to be risk intelligent, forward looking, alerting our organisation as to where existing risks are heading and any new / emerging risks. This is easier said than done, however measuring key risk indicators, looking at trends, performing scenario planning and simulation/s etc. will all enhance your predictive capability. As a risk officer, there is nothing wrong with your predictions being wrong as long as they are based on the facts available at that time.
Another very real problem that we as risk practitioners often face is that we may sit back and wait for the risk culture and tone from the top to be ideal; which we know may be a very slow process. Let’s ask ourselves as risk practitioners what we can do to influence risk culture and get things moving by applying a bottom-up approach as well (see slide 7 which is upside down… this is not by error!). Let’s have our feet on the ground, get to know our organisation well and identify and network with subject matter experts within our organisation. Let’s create opportunities to be invited to the table where important decisions are made by people and committees. Let’s also identify the people and committees to invite to our table. Let’s not sit outside the board room waiting to be called in to present our risk report and then be told “sorry but we’ve run out of time for you to present now; we take your risk report as ‘read’”. We need to be able to speak freely and ensure that our board allocate key risks to senior sponsors who take accountability and drive results.
Once again thank you Christopher for your time and for sharing with us your extensive and practical experience.
Written by: Jonathan Crisp
Director – BarnOwl GRC and Audit software
About Christopher Palm:
Christopher Palm is the Chief Risk Advisor at the Institute of Risk Management South Africa (IRMSA). His passion is to collaborate with risk professionals and other key role players both locally and globally to transform risk management into a key component of excellent decision-making.
Christopher believes that a solid enterprise risk management capability within an entity, supported by a risk-mature Leadership, Executive Committee and Board, will lead to decisions that will effectively respond to both risks and opportunities facing the business world today and well into the future.
Christopher spent 27 years with Eskom Holdings, of which the last 18 were at senior executive level – from Group Audit Manager and Head of Forensics to Head of Enterprise Risk where he established the integrated risk management capability in 2008. His most valuable experience throughout his time at Eskom was the gaining and understanding of world class risk and resilience knowledge, experience and exposure and how it is challenged in practice.
Christopher’s educational background includes a B Com – majoring in Accounting, Commercial Law and Economics and an Honours Degree in Business Economics and Management Accounting. He complimented the above by completing the Executive Development Programme at Wits Business School.
Although he only joined IRMSA recently as an employee, Christopher previously served on IRMSA’s Executive Committee as a volunteer focusing on financial and strategic aspects for the Institute. As the founding Chairman of the IRMSA Risk Intelligence Committee, one highlight was the pioneering of the original IRMSA Risk Intelligence Report for South Africa, published in 2015.
This past year, Christopher received the prestigious “IRMSA Risk Manager of the Year 2016” award – he emphasises that he has Eskom and a number of colleagues to thank for their part in this achievement!
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