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Neil Porteous, IRMCert: Corporate Risk Officer, Gateshead Council

How did you get your job? 

My employer (a local authority in the North of England) was looking to appoint someone with knowledge of local government but also business management to the role of Corporate Risk Officer, who could work closely with its services (business units) to support the embedding of a robust risk culture across the organisation. 

I had completed a business management degree and at the time the role was advertised had worked in local government for just over 10 years. The roles I had held were all within corporate functions covering policy, performance and governance. Those studying or working in enterprise risk management will appreciate the value of this experience to a risk management practitioner. I have always enjoyed learning, undertaking my higher education whilst in full-time employment and was attracted to the role as I knew I would be encouraged to undertake the International Certificate in Enterprise Risk Management with the IRM. 

What’s a typical day like as a Corporate Risk Officer? 

A typical day as Corporate Risk Officer involves responding to queries relating to the organisation’s risk management framework or the risk management process. 

I prepare and present reports and information to drive action and support colleagues at different levels of seniority. 

Contributing to the development of processes and guidance to support the risk and business continuity management arrangements. 

What do you enjoy most about your job? 

Helping people! Moving people to more effective risk management practices is not without its challenges but when they see the value and realise they can save time and effort then I feel a sense of achievement. 

I get to make a real contribution to the organisation because effective risk management improves performance and adds value. 

In what way are your IRM qualifications relevant?

My IRM qualifications couldn’t be more relevant. To achieve the certificate, I had to demonstrate my knowledge and understanding of the principles and concepts of risk management but also demonstrate their practical applications. 

I’m applying the skills and knowledge daily and even though I’ve passed the exams the learning continues. There are always new issues or developments within the profession, so it helps to stay aware as a member of the IRM.

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

What are you waiting for? 

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

The qualification and being linked to IRM has given me a genuine interest in the field of enterprise risk management. Since achieving the certificate, I have also become a committee member on the ALARM Northern Group which will support the provision of training and networking opportunities for local authority risk management professionals across the North of England. 

I keep an open mind but want to continue working in risk management, making the links to governance and performance and progress to a leadership or management role. 

What advice can you give to others?

  1. From experience, it helps to have a good knowledge of your organisation and the sector in which it operates, but you need to maintain an awareness of the wider business environment to be able to understand the issues that individual business units and the wider organisation is faced with and to be able to offer support. 
  2. As a risk management practitioner, it helps to be client and outcome focussed. 
  3. Reach out and connect, it’s always good to speak to others in the profession.
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