VIEW: A turning point for the risk profession

As this annus horribilis draws to a close, it is an apposite time to ask how we performed as a profession, and to consider what we should be focusing on next. Issues that existed before the pandemic are of course still there, and as the problems caused by the ongoing events of 2020 continue to unfold, the confluence of these creates ever more complex challenges in the way we live, work and manage risk.

The pandemic exposed a government challenged by a lack of useful intelligence and data to support decision making, leading to short-term reactions which may yet turn out to be ill-advised. At an operational level, many organisations found their processes lacking around long-term business impacts. Airmic members reported a positive experience in their crisis management response to the virus. Many had the right competencies and mindsets to think and act at an enterprise level to deal effectively with the pandemic.

However, they also reported a more critical role for risk professionals going forward, and the supplementary knowledge and skills required to achieve this. This response was most notable in collaborative working, in understanding the interconnectivity of different risks, and in engaging with business issues.

This month saw the passing of a great ambassador of professional learning, Jo Willaert. Jo was the former president of FERMA, with which he was still actively engaged, as well as the Belgian risk management association BELRIM, and the international risk association IFRIMA. Jo chose education, leadership and communication as the themes of his four years as FERMA president. They have been the driving forces behind FERMA’s accomplishments during his tenure, and to this day. I speak with great personal appreciation of Jo, as his predecessor at FERMA, and without his support and wisdom, my mandate would have been so much poorer. Jo, we celebrate your achievements and we will continue to champion a wonderful profession -- keep learning, keep changing, never stand still, and continue to raise the professional bar.

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