Gareth Byatt

An interview with Jemma Boyce, Risk & Reporting Manager, London City Airport

Interviewed by: Gareth Byatt, SiG Committee member and IRM Ambassador; Principal Consultant, Risk Insight Consulting

Gareth: Thank you for taking the time to talk to me today about the nature of your role, and how your certification through the IRM is helping you to progress with your career. 

I’d like to start by asking you how long you have been in your current position at London City Airport (LCY) and what attracted you to the role.

Jemma: I started at LCY about 24 months ago (July 2016). I came on board as part of a team to work on the City Airport Development Project. This is large project (circa £500M). You can find details on our website; in essence the project is comprised of: 

  • Eight new aircraft parking stands, an extended terminal building, a new eastern passenger pier and associated works on a platform over the King George V Dock. 
  • A new passenger forecourt and a hotel. Passenger and staff car parking will re-organised.
  • A landside access pontoon for use by emergency services will also be provided at the eastern end of the seven new stands. 

I was very attracted to the challenge of working on a radical project in very interesting part of UK infrastructure, and to grow my skills. London City Airport served over 4.5 million customers in 2017 and this project will help it to expand its capacity.


Gareth: What are some of the things you have been doing in this role? 

Jemma: One of the main things I have focused on, working with and as part of the project team, has been to create and embed a risk framework into the project planning and delivery process. Part of our focus has been to ensure it can be used for all projects at LCY, not just this one. 

Some of the key things we have focused on include: 

Ensuring roles and responsibilities are clear. 

  • Consolidating our project risks early in the process to align with the Work Breakdown Structure of the project. This was important to ensure we capture the risks properly against the activities of the project (thus ensuring it is integrated risk management).
  • Our risks registers naturally became more detailed, to make sure things such as action due dates are in place, that actions are timely and measurable, and that we have good reporting and assurance. We have definitive risk owners, plus we pay attention to when risk information is updated (this works well, which I have seen before on projects such as Crossrail).
  • We work on “levels of risk” – contract, project or programme level.
  • Set ensure regular reviews are stitched into the rhythm of the project.
  • We set up the procedure, process, controls for risk management and reporting. We focus a lot on “top 5 risks”, aligned to the business reports.

We also carry out quantitative risk analysis (QRA) when appropriate as a team, which helps us to think through our material risks. 

The process of embedding the framework naturally took a while to be ingrained, as the project went through being scoped, the planning and strategic phase, and through to starting detailed design and construction. 

We handed over the risk framework in October 17 to our delivery partner, Bechtel. I have moved into an assurance role, to monitor and review their delivery work. Our relationship as an overall team is tightly knit.


Gareth: It sounds like you have been liaising with all functions and teams working on the project to get this framework implemented – acting “like glue” between them if I could put it that way. This role of “being the glue” was one of the important skills of a Risk professional that we covered at the SiG event we held (which you organised) on 20th Feb 2018 in London. 

Jemma: Absolutely. I see a big part of my role as helping people to bridge different areas and aspects of the project. This has been key, and continues to be, key to what I do – to help people to get things done through interface management and improvements in communications.


Gareth: One of the things I have been talking to people about recently is how Risk professionals need to be embedded into teams (projects, businesses, organisations), whilst not being “native”. That is, to ensure we can help people whilst also ensuring we are objective and impartial. What’s your take on this? 

Jemma: I’d agree. I think we are well-placed to say what we think and be objective about decisions that are required. We need to be trusted advisors, whilst also being trusted to give an objective view.


Gareth: How does being part of the IRM Infrastructure Risk SiG help you in your role and career? 

Jemma: I enjoy being part of the SiG Committee. It helps me to see a bigger picture, and to tap into the knowledge of a network of professionals. Interestingly, I also find that our discussions in the SiG help to show me that Risk professionals can move across different sectors if we want to do so. 


Gareth: London City Airport, like all airports, must face all manner of risks – societal, operational, business continuity (including major impacts on travellers that pass through) and others. I presume you liaise with the Airport Risk team regularly. 

Jemma: The airport certainly does have a lot of risks to consider, and we – the project team – are highly aware of our impact on the airport operations. The London City Airport Head of Risk is very helpful. We catch up regularly to discuss key themes, risks and issues, controls and overall performance. There is a strong ethos of helping the project with what it needs, which is great.


Gareth: You recently completed the IRM International Diploma in Risk Management. How has it helped you in your daily work and your career planning? 

Jemma: I learned a lot from taking the Diploma. I gained exposure to the wider view of risk management and other industries, which further cemented my view that we can cross industries by using good risk management practices if we want to. Before I started the Diploma, this idea seemed quite daunting. The Diploma has really helped me also to find out different aspects of risk management, and what a wide-ranging discipline it is. It helps us to see what we are interested in. For example, I focused my specialisation in the Diploma on Business Continuity Management (BCM). Before this, I hadn’t looked into BCM much. I now see what a broad an interesting part of risk management it is.


Gareth: Has the Diploma helped you with some of the softer aspects of risk management? 

Jemma: The practicality of the course is great. It helped me as I learned about the project environment, and to ensure Risk procedures resonate with the project culture and are integrated into the reality of what happens, not just theory. 


Gareth: Thanks for your time, Jemma. I look forward to seeing how the City Airport Development Project progresses.