This week my meeting of note was with the HR Director.
The irony of my meeting with her, a newly appointed interim, to discuss how we ensure continuity of risk knowledge in our firm’s hiring practices hasn’t been lost on me. She’s been in post for just over three months and in that time has appointed the youngest and most officious member of the original team to be her Executive Assistant.
My attempts to get an introduction to her didn’t get off to a great start.
“What’s the purpose of the meeting?”, her EA wanted to know. “Would twenty minutes be enough? Can it wait three weeks? She’s very busy and there are many priorities in her diary.”
Does she ever go for a cup of tea, I wondered, or are all her refreshments brought to her by this guard dog? I think his previous job may have been as a doctor’s receptionist.
It’s frustrating to be on the receiving end of this kind of reception, but I admit feeling a pang of envy. To be able to control and protect your time to that extent is quite a skill. She obviously means business. I found myself briefly wondering who on my team might be able to perform the same task for me. But then on reflection, what joy there is in this job mostly comes from those random conversations that lead down rabbit holes, so I’m not sure it’s a great idea.
Anyway, I made it over the barricades and managed to grab a quick coffee with the woman. She has a background in highly regulated industry, where unmanaged risk can result in injury and death, so she was fairly sympathetic to my concerns. We agreed there was a need to standardise some elements of job descriptions for senior roles; understanding and experience of managing risk should be listed as a required skill. I came away with the name of the person in her team who is looking at the process for approving job descriptions.
More importantly - since I am never likely to get five minutes with the HR Director again without wrestling with her EA, I also came away with a name of a delegate within the HR team of someone who will be the ongoing risk champion.
The best risk champions are rarely the most senior ones, because they tend to be so time poor. Having a textbook knowledge of risk management isn’t much help either, at least not on its own. I know my team can teach them how the framework works. The best first line risk champions are often the ones with some imagination, an inquisitive nature and just enough influence and social skills to challenge their colleagues appropriately. Time will tell if the person we’ve been given here is up to the task.
Who is the Secret Risk Manager?
The Secret Risk Manager is a senior risk professional working in the City. Over the years, they’ve seen a variety of risk practices - good, bad and ugly - across a variety of industries.
Like many risk professionals, the Secret Risk Manager’s CV has a large unspoken element. They are called upon to be in turns, therapist, coach, detective, mediator, behavioural scientist, parent, mind reader, futurologist, story-teller, philosopher and diplomat.
These articles do not pretend to constitute advice, but only to provide a frank and hopefully thought provoking look into the often frustrating world of those people who help organisations manage their risks. The subject matter is experience based, but fictional.
Any resemblance to actual incidents or persons living or dead is purely coincidental. But let’s face it, there’s not much new under the sun so you’ve probably seen it before.