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An interview with Annabel Davies IRMCert Risk, Regulatory, Stakeholder Manager Trustpower Ltd | New Zealand

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.

Annabel Davies IRMCert

Risk, Regulatory, Stakeholder Manager

Trustpower Ltd | New Zealand

How did you get your job?

My path to risk has not been a traditional one.  I do not have a financial background.

My background is however, steeped in non-financial audit and assurance, quality systems thinking, corporate social responsibility, stakeholder relations, and regulatory sustainability matters.  Although this means I’ve always been involved in elements of risk management, I certainly didn’t think of it as broadly or strategically as I do now.  When I was appointed in the Risk role I was given the challenge of gaining outreach and increasing the risk dialogue across the organisation, in short, embeddedness.

Trustpower is a generator and retailer in the energy and telecommunications business.  With the rapid pace of technological change, coupled with New Zealand’s stretched commitment to climate change targets – the sector is full of risk and opportunity in an external context.  I am fortunate that the organisation I work for values openness and transparency, expects staff to be curious and try new things, to challenge the way we’ve always done things, and have a voice when we sense things that might be worthy of attention.  This brings fertile ground for ideas generation, psychological safety, reflective thinking, and cross functional collaboration and testing.  It also carries its own set of internal risk and opportunity as we move away from the old ways of working.

What’s a typical day like as a Risk, Regulatory, Stakeholder Manager ?

I’m not sure there is a typical day, but it could involve any of the following – facilitating a particular risk deep dive with the executive team, analysis of emerging government policy, specific issue reputational consideration, insurance review, Board reporting, continual improvement of ERM architecture and protocols, consideration of cultural conduct risks, reading and global scan of emerging risks and response measures.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The variety - driven by interactions with staff, stakeholders and third parties, all of whom bring different perspectives, thought provoking conversations and challenges. My team both assists with, and learns from, being involved with helping our staff apply appropriate judgement with regard to risk.

What are the challenges?

Finding the sweet spot in risk management!   It varies for different things at different times.   Maintaining a healthy and positive mindset toward risk across the business.   We also share more specific challenges with many others – cyber risk, people conduct, artificial intelligence, third party, environmental, and regulatory.

In what way are your IRM qualifications relevant?

The IRM certificte gave me the tools to be successful in my role.  I quite literally was learning by night and testing or applying it by day.  There is no equivalent level of training available in NZ. 

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

IRM membership provides access to helpful material and risk conversations.  This is very valuable for Risk Managers, who might otherwise be prone to a degree of isolation in their professional capacity.

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

With the help of my team, we have overhauled the company’s Enterprise Risk Management System, and completely changed the way the business engages in risk, and the lenses we use to assess it.  The IRM training has helped provide a clear plan of what needs to be done, and once put in our own context, is proving very useful and engaging. 

Conversation and engagement at Board level has also shifted measurably as a result.  The training has piqued my interest in Risk at a Governance level.

What advice do I have?

  • Embrace the dynamic nature of risk – it will keep changing.
  • Get networked with other risk professionals. IRM provides a great platform to do this.
  • Challenge the way your organisation looks at risk!
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