Michelle McMillan MCIM, GradIRM: Principal Risk Manager, The City of Edinburgh Council

The Institute of Risk Management (IRM) asks its members what working in risk is really like and what hints and tips they'd share with people looking to move into the industry.


How did you get your job? 

I have always worked in Risk Management in local government. My risk career started at Shropshire County Council, I now work for the City of Edinburgh Council as Principal Risk Manager. 

What’s a typical day like as Principal Risk Manager? 

Busy and diverse, the role involves being in amongst teams helping to support the management of risk. I spend a lot of time delivering risk workshops and analysing risk information/reporting to management teams. 

What do you enjoy most about your job? 

How busy the role is and how much you learn and understand about the wide range of services the Council delivers. 

What are the challenges? 

In a time of austerity this brings more challenges for local government; however there are also great opportunities risk management is key to this and is part of affecting this. 

In what way are your IRM qualifications relevant? 

IRM qualifications are relevant in that I share my knowledge with the organisation to support risk management effectively. 

What would you say to others thinking about joining IRM as a member? 

Go for it, the benefits are great, especially in terms of learning/sharing information. The risk management guidance available through the IRM website is excellent. 

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions? Has being linked to the IRM helped?

My role has developed in terms of the risk approaches I enable colleagues to use, especially scenario planning, creating greater understanding of interdependencies. The importance of applying the risk management process is key. My ambition is to keep delivering risk support in an informed manner and to a high standard. Being linked to the IRM has really helped, gaining the International Diploma gives assurance that you are educated and understand risk management as well as knowing the organisation you work within.

Top tips:

  • Learn about and understand the organisation comprehensively and be involved/aware of change where risks/opportunities exist 
  • Understand how colleagues think about risk – in discussions listen carefully and let colleagues discuss/get their views across, be the support and challenge 
  • Timeliness is everything – make sure risks are managed in a timely way 
  • Encourage a good balance between risk assessment and managing risks 
  • Promote risk monitoring and review – it’s key to getting things done