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Abhishek Upadhayay, MIRM: Senior Risk Consulting Manager, Axa Insurance Gulf

Abhishek Upadhayay, MIRM

Senior Risk Consulting Manager

Axa Insurance Gulf (UAE)


How did you get your job?

I would call it a simple twist of fate. I got a campus placement in a cement manufacturing company as a process engineer while studying Chemical Engineering.

At the end of the first year in the job, I saw a newspaper ad from AIG asking for Engineers for the role of underwriter. The job description was fascinating. I applied and got through not knowing where I was headed for. I worked in underwriting for about 5-6 years before I got an opportunity to work in Risk Management at RSA. This was the beginning and since then I have never looked elsewhere although I shifted jobs but my subject domain remains the same. The subject intrigues me. A bit of on job experience and support from professional qualification like IRM has helped me reach where I am now.

What’s a typical day like as a Senior Risk Consulting Manager?

Although there is a routine in a typical days’ schedule, the sheer excitement and challenges that keep occurring makes it a new experience every day.

My typical routine involves meeting clients, surveying industrial sites, discussing risks and concerns with their management and providing plausible solutions. Writing reports is also a part of the routine which I thoroughly enjoy as it provides an opportunity to learn and understand new risks. Talking to underwriters during the day helps to draw clear picture of risks and facilitates decision making. A glimpse of dashboard that monitors loss ratios, portfolio movement and other such KPI's help in maintaining focus in the end. The day generally ends with listening to my team and providing solutions to their concerns if needed.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

This is an easy one. There are three things I most enjoy about my job:

  • Meeting people - listening to others is the most exciting part of my job. This is where most of my learning comes from. A fresh and different perspective on risk from others, and their way of thinking often gives a perspective on various cultures that influences risk management in general.
  • Travelling - I often travel to places which I would normally have not planned in my personal life. This means frequent travels to the countryside, new places and countries.
  • Relearning - I think risk management is as much about relearning and sharpening acquired skills than about acquiring new knowledge.

What are the challenges?

My main challenge is to provide practical solutions to fire and life safety risks to industrial clients. The task of persuading their technical management and offering relevant arguments that establish good risk management practices. The idea is to challenge and overcome passive thinking.

In what way are your IRM qualifications relevant?

Studying IRM’s Diploma course provided me a structured approach to critical thinking in risk management. It exposed me to the human side of the subject which is the most critical aspect of managing risks.

I specialised in Governance and Financial Service risk management which provided the top level perspective and strategic vision in execution planning.

The course study materials are very elaborate and extensive from various fields. This really helps in understanding every aspect of the subject.

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

I sincerely recommend others join and study with the IRM. The direct benefit may not appear in the short term but in long term this definitely helps. The course expands your perspective and thinking approach in risk management.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

I was an individual contributor but over the period of time, thanks to IRM qualifications I grew into a manager role and am currently spearheading a regional function in the Gulf. My approach is more strategic and it helps me perform better.

Top Tips

My advice to aspirants:

  • Get into a structured learning approach. IRM qualifications are definitely a good option
  • Develop a reading habit. The more you read the more you will expand your critical thinking
  • Build a professional network that helps you stay on the subject and provides answers to your questions