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Ready for risk? The skills required to ‘know your enemy’, and the development of tactics to counter that enemy, are basic risk management aptitudes. This means that, without even knowing it, you may have spent a significant proportion of your Services career preparing for a role in this industry – and could well be more ready than you know for a rewarding new career in risk management …
What is risk management?
Risk is part of all our lives – as we were reminded in no uncertain terms by the recent Covid-19 pandemic. As a society, we need to take risks in order to grow and develop. From energy to infrastructure, supply chains to airport security, hospitals to housing, effectively managed risks help societies to achieve. In our fast-paced world, the risks we need to manage evolve quickly, and we must ensure we manage them in such a way as to minimise their threats and maximise their potential.
Risk management involves understanding, analysing and addressing risk to make sure organisations achieve their objectives. So it must be proportionate to the complexity and type of organisation involved. Enterprise risk management (ERM) is an integrated, joined-up approach to managing risk across an organisation and its extended networks.
Because risk is inherent to everything we do, the types of work undertaken by risk professionals are incredibly diverse. They include roles in insurance, business continuity (click here to read our feature about that), health and safety, corporate governance, engineering, planning and financial services. The work is likely to be primarily office based but often includes visits to sites (if you’re working in sectors such as construction) or to other offices to see clients (if you’re working in consultancy). At a more senior level, you may spend time away from the office at conferences.
Travel within the working day is common, but depends on the size of the organisation you are working for and your level of responsibility within it. Risk management jobs are available across the UK, but overseas travel may be required if you are working for a company that operates internationally.
Risk management strategies and processes
According to technology-focused website TechTarget, all risk management plans – in whichever area or sector they are applied – follow the same steps that combine to make up the overall risk management process. These are as follows.
- Risk identification: the company identifies and defines potential risks that may negatively influence a specific company process or project.
- Risk analysis: once specific types of risk have been identified, the company then determines the odds of it occurring, as well as its consequences. The goal of the analysis is to further understand each specific instance of risk, and how it could influence the company’s projects and objectives.
- Risk assessment and evaluation: the risk is then further evaluated after determining the risk’s overall likelihood of occurrence combined with its overall consequence. The company can then make decisions as to whether the risk is acceptable and whether the company is willing to take it on based on its risk appetite.
- Risk mitigation: during this step, companies assess their highest-ranked risks and develop a plan to alleviate them using specific risk controls. These plans include risk mitigation processes, risk prevention tactics and contingency plans in the event the risk occurs.
- Risk monitoring: part of the mitigation plan includes following up on both the risks and the overall plan to continuously monitor and track new and existing risks. The overall risk management process should also be reviewed and updated accordingly.
Many ex-Services personnel have already used their Forces experience and transferable skills to make a successful transition to a civilian career in risk management. You might be surprised at the sort of parallels there are between military roles and risk-management careers.
TRANSFER YOUR SKILLS
The basic skills you will need for a successful career in risk management include:
- technical acumen
- problem-solving and decision-making abilities
- analytical skills and a good eye for detail
- the ability to cope under pressure
- planning and organisational skills
- negotiation skills and the ability to influence people
- good communication and presentation skills
- commercial awareness
- numerical skills and the ability to evaluate costs
- the ability to understand broad business issues.
WHY STUDY WITH THE IRM?
The mission of the IRM is to build excellence in risk management, in all sectors and across the world. Click here to read about how some members have benefited from studying with the IRM.
THE IRM AND THE ARMED FORCES
Many of the skills learned by Service personnel or those with a military background naturally cross over into the world of risk management, which is why the IRM is keen to ensure these skills are recognised and to help support your lifelong learning and career transition where possible.
With some 200,000 people in the Armed Forces – many of whom are making risk-management decisions every day – the IRM believes it is vitally important that Service leavers, and the businesses they go on to work for, are using skills already learned to the max.
A career in risk management will give you unique access to the top of and throughout an organisation. Professional qualifications will enhance your employability, increase your earning potential, and ensure you are current and competent. Click here for details.
As a signatory to the Armed Forces Covenant and recipient of the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Silver Employer award, the IRM provides accessible and relevant training and qualifications to help military personnel make the transition into the business world.
The IRM has also recently formed the Armed Forces Community Group and encourages you to join its network and stay updated.
WHERE TO LOOK FOR JOB VACANCIES
- Institute of Risk Management
- ALARM, the risk professionals’ organisation, has vacancies in the public sector
- The Association of Insurance and Risk Managers (Airmic) – has a dedicated job listings section on its website
- Insurance Jobs
In addition to the above, individual companies may advertise opportunities on their websites. There are also specialist recruitment agencies that have details of risk management vacancies. These include:
How do I qualify for a career in risk management?
Professional qualifications from the Institute of Risk Management (IRM) will give you the broad knowledge and practical skills you need for a career in risk management. You can learn from anywhere in the world via supported distance learning. This includes directed self-study and online coaching, with the option of blended learning workshops.
Click here for full details of the qualifications available, including prices, course duration and application forms.
The NEBOSH HSE Award in Managing Risks and Risk Assessment at Work is a one-day, introductory-level qualification developed in collaboration with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). It is structured around the HSE’s approach to controlling the risks caused by workplace hazards.
It will help you develop straightforward, practical health and safety risk management skills so you can go beyond risk assessments to effectively control the health and safety risks caused by hazards in your workplace.
The NEBOSH IIRSM Certificate in Managing Risk (broadly comparable to RQF level 3 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and level 6 in the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework, SCQF) is the perfect choice for those who want to be able to identify, evaluate, and manage risks, and understand their impacts for an organisation. Recognising that effective risk management helps ensure better decisions are made that will protect people, organisations and reputations, NEBOSH and the IIRSM (International Institute of Risk & Safety Management) have combined their expertise in education and risk to deliver a qualification that can help you achieve this. It will help you develop risk management skills that can be used in any organisation, industry and job – anywhere in the world. The qualification is particularly relevant for risk professionals looking to gain a broader view of risk beyond a specialism such as health and safety, quality or business continuity. Initially available only via eLearning – which means you can complete your studies at a time, place and pace convenient to you – a classroom option will be available in due course.
Other course providers
Other professional bodies that offer sector- or occupation-specific risk management training include:
- the CFA Institute
- the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII)
- the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP)
Although this area of work is open to all graduates, a degree in one of the following subjects may boost your chances:
- finance or economics
- management or business studies
Graduates of less relevant subjects can also take the IRM’s International Certificate in Enterprise Risk Management to give them an introduction to risk management and increase their chances of gaining an entry-level position.
The IRM also offers the International Certificate in Financial Services Risk Management – a degree-equivalent qualification. Although there are no formal entry requirements, students are expected to have some knowledge of risk management tools and techniques. The course is delivered through supported distance learning, which includes directed self-study and online coaching.
Graduates of risk management courses and courses with risk management content are sought after and targeted by recruiters of risk managers. Some risk management undergraduate and postgraduate courses offer exemptions from IRM professional qualifications.
Postgraduate courses in risk management can also be studied, sometimes on a distance-learning basis. Such courses can offer a way to develop your career and may be supported by your future employer. The IRM offers the International Diploma in Risk Management – a postgraduate-level qualification for risk management professionals. It usually takes around 18 months to complete and, again, is undertaken via distance learning.
IRM Certificate and Diploma students join the IRM as students during their studies and are upgraded to relevant qualified member grades upon completion. Students on risk management degree and postgraduate courses are able to apply for free student membership of the IRM while studying, which can help with job prospects. Visit the IRM website for details of the different levels of membership available (see ‘Useful info’).
Postgraduate qualifications are not essential but can be advantageous. A master’s in risk management is also available at a number of universities and may be particularly relevant if you have not completed a risk management-related degree.
Continuing professional development (CPD) is also important, and the IRM runs a range of courses and training events throughout the year, to help risk managers keep up to date with developments in the area and refresh their skills.
Use your ELC
Under the ELC scheme, a wide range of learning can be taken, provided it is offered by an approved provider listed on the ELCAS website and is at level 3 or above. For full details of how to make the most of your ELC, refer to the in-depth features elsewhere on the Quest website
Risk-related careers are incredibly diverse, reflecting the widespread role of risk management in companies and communities. Risk roles can be found in sectors from banking and insurance to logistics and infrastructure, aviation, space travel, construction, public health, international development, and many more. Because of their highly transferable skills, qualified and experienced risk management professionals are able to move easily between different sectors and countries. Transferring across sectors can often open up opportunities to gain a higher salary, better prospects and sponsorship of further qualifications.
Employers of risk managers include:
- charities and commercial businesses
- energy and utilities companies
- engineering and construction companies
- insurance companies
- NHS trusts
- local authorities.
At higher levels, employers look for experience or knowledge of risk management, so it may be useful to seek work placements during leave time if these are not part of a course you are taking or plan to take. This could set you up with risk and insurance contacts, which could help your future job prospects. Experience from your Service career could also be useful if it relates to the sector in which you wish to specialise in a risk management role.
Entry to this industry without a degree is possible, but you will usually start in an administrative role before working your way up to a risk assistant position and then progressing to a risk manager role. Employers expect A-levels or equivalent qualifications for entry through this route.
There are also opportunities for self-employment for experienced risk managers who want to set up their own consultancy. And there may be opportunities to work abroad, as demand for risk managers is growing, particularly in fast-developing economies.
RISK MANAGEMENT APPRENTICESHIPS
There’s a wide range of apprenticeships available in this sector, starting at level 3; some are an element of a course of study while others are on-the-job within businesses. Type ‘risk management apprenticeships’ into your favourite search engine to see what’s on offer.
The IRM also now offers Modern Apprenticeships in Risk and Compliance, having being granted supporting training provider status (to deliver the professional qualification element of the Apprenticeship) by the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP). Click here to find out more.