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Risk in Focus: Pallavee Patel, IRMCert, Lead, National Grid Metering

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.

Pallavee Patel, IRMCert 

Lead – Risk & Business Resilience 

National Grid Metering

How did you get your job?

I started my career in the field of performance management, looking at and setting key performance indicators and assurance activities alike. This naturally led me to look at risk management and how this could help with the improvement of performance and its management, especially when it came to the business meeting its objectives.

What’s a typical day like?

In my role as the Risk and Business Resilience Lead within National Grid Metering no two days are the same (a little cliché as I know a lot of folk will say that); however, this is really the case. Since joining the business, we have really advanced in our approach to risk management.

When I joined National Grid Metering there was a historic way of how risk management was performed but the business has a real appetite to improve and change.

The challenge was to make the process more dynamic and rather than just be tasks and actions driven, we now anticipate and envisage threats and work in a proactive manner.  Being part of a large organisation means feeding into the wider business requirements and, often, this meant that the detail could be missed as the focus was more around the key principal risks. We have changed this approach and now look at risks in a more holistic way where we have adopted an enterprise risk wide approach which is far more collaborative and intuitive with what we do and how we operate. This methodology is being adopted across all disciplines and therefore the risk empire is growing, which is just phenomenal. 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I count myself very lucky as I have been given the autonomy to take risk management to the next level. This means I can be unconventional (as quirky as I like) in my approach and this has allowed me to pursue new and innovative ways to represent risks and we have been able to create a unique way of risk management.

In addition, I love that I can really get involved in the real-life risks and think of all the potential consequences and see how it could impact all the various teams and present this back to them respectively. Finding various proactive solutions is one of my favourite parts of the job. In addition to that, there is the bonus of taking my colleagues on this journey of continuous improvement, where we shape the management of risks by constantly looking at ways to improve and enhance the way we do this. I am really passionate about this and it’s been incredible to see how my colleagues are willing to embrace this too.

Since taking on the role, we have done a complete 360, and we now have a unique way of managing risk. We have been on this transformation journey to proactively manage existing risks but also envisage any emerging risks and opportunities that are on the horizon. Within our Steering committees we will discuss make informed decisions around to either treat, tolerate, terminate or transfer those risks. We have also established a routine where we have a cadence to routinely revisit the scoring of the risks.  It has been heart-warming to see that we celebrate successes (in the form of opportunities) as well as the risks (which often have a negative connotation attached). These methodologies are proving to be successful and, in turn, has been adopted by other business areas within the group, which is very rewarding to see.

What are the challenges?

The main challenge is getting senior stakeholders to love risk management as much as I do! Jokes aside, I think new and informed ways of risk management have really helped glamourise the managing of risks. Risk management can often be a hard sell with the use of various tools and techniques and breaking down the detail so it is relevant to their subject area and this has proved to be second to none.

The other challenge has been having the right tools and techniques to host the risks on. Again, I have managed to devise a new methodology to help in the presentation and the reporting of risks which is visual and at a glance you can see exactly where your risks sit in terms of their materiality and scoring etc. This has aided to paint the picture in how risks are treated and when mitigations need to be implemented.

What made you decide to study the International Certificate in ERM?

I made the decision to study for this qualification, as I saw that the IRM were a very reputable organisation, providing various qualifications to help develop risk professionals. I wanted to earn the qualification so that I could ensure I was aware of all the tools, techniques and practices and to ensure that I was able to relay my learning back to the business. I know that by having the qualification and having those letters after my name, would mean more doors opening both internally and externally. It is a very valued accreditation and I feel honoured to have gained this qualification after all the hard work.

What has it taught you that you can immediately put into practice?

This course taught me so much but what I have immediately put into practice is the various risk management frameworks I have already constructed how I can utilise these within our organisation. How to improve our risk management journey by implementing further tools and techniques to make us even more risk savvy!

What would you say to other people considering studying for the qualification?

I would say do it do it do it! Don’t waste any time deliberating, as trust me it will add so much value and elevate your experience in the management of risk and how to lead others on that risk management journey. The qualification will provide the enablement and the confidence to practice what you have learnt in all areas of the business. You will soon be able to calculate risks and decipher which risks taking and which to mitigate. 

How do I get into/work as a/become a…?/What advice can you give to others?

I think the best way to get into risk management is to try and job shadow a colleague or take on a secondment on a short-term basis to get a flavour and a real eye for the detail as to how risk management plays a part in your organisation. Another tip would be to help with risk management within your respective teams to feed into business level risks. And finally consider perhaps taking on additional responsibility in risk management and considering studying an introductory course to get a flavour.

The IRM have a fantastic array of courses, so another avenue to try would be to see if you can attend an introductory course into the world of risk management. Finally signing up to do this qualification, will no doubt open so many doors for a Leader in Risk who has the professional qualification attached. This course will not only strengthen your understanding but will also allow you to increase your breadth of knowledge within this field and will in turn elevate your profile within risk management.

Not forgetting, this course is an internationally recognised qualification and will provide significant opportunities to meet and network with like-minded professionals from across the globe within various sectors. This kind of experience is second to none as you will learn and share best practices.

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