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Risk in Focus: Rajvinder Kaur IRMCert, Operational Risk Manager, Phoenix Group

We speak to expert risk management professionals from across different businesses and industry sectors to get a better idea of what working in risk is really like and what hints and tips they'd share with people looking to move into the industry.

Rajvinder Kaur IRMCert

Operational Risk Manager

Phoenix Group

How did you get your job?

I started my career in operational risk management with a six-month contract with Phoenix Group. During my contract I demonstrated my capability, technical skills, and willingness to learn and was subsequently offered a permanent role.

I always had an interest in risk management and having a holistic view of the business. When I was given the initial opportunity, I worked hard to develop my understanding of risk management with a mixture of on-the-job shadowing and excellent resources such as the IRM website.

What’s a typical day like as an Operational Risk Manager?

A typical day includes working as part of a team of risk professionals focused on developing, supporting, and enhancing Line 2 operational risk relationship with the Phoenix Line 1 functions. This includes providing advice, guidance, review, challenge, and assurance in respect of operational risk and control identification, assessment, and reporting across the function in line with the Phoenix Risk Management Framework.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Working alongside one or more Operational Risk Managers to ensure the team as a whole deliver on its objectives and continues to drive improvements in operational risk, identification, assessment, monitoring, analysis, and reporting. I enjoy meeting new people and having the opportunity to positively influence the operational risk profile of the business for the benefit of all our stakeholders. I’ve been able to support to the Operational Risk Team on a variety of oversight and assurance activities across different projects.

What are the challenges?

We are an important liaison between third line of defense (Internal Audit) and first line of defense (the risk takers). It can be challenging to strike the right balance of challenge of providing risk oversight and independence whilst maintaining a collaborative relationship.

What made you decide to study the International Certificate in Financial Services Risk Management?

I wanted to understand the history of risk management, different processes for risk management and the strategic links for financial risk management. Ultimately, I wanted to understand the theory so I could apply it correctly during my day-to-day role and identify any improvements.

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

How to respond and treat risks to bring them into tolerance.

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

Pursuing this qualification will give you a great foundation of risk, key standards, and case studies in organisational risk management.

Top tips:

To get into risk management:

  1. Keep up-to-date with current news and work on understanding risk events.
  2. Understand the regulatory context for risk management in financial services and the 2007-2008 financial crisis.
  3. Seek roles or opportunities that include risk management duties, even if on a secondment or short-term basis initially, to establish a foothold within the industry


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