Risk in Focus: Sospeter Thiga IRMCert, Group Head of Risk, Compliance and Performance Monitoring
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.
Sospeter Thiga IRMCert
Group Head of Risk, Compliance and Performance Monitoring
CPF Financial Services Ltd. Nairobi, Kenya.
How did you get your job?
I am currently the Group Head of Risk, Compliance and Performance Monitoring for the CPF Group of Companies in Nairobi, Kenya. The Group has vast interests in pension, insurance, real estate, technology and renewable energy. I began my career in risk back in 2008 at Ernst and Young where I was recruited as and IT Risk Advisor. IT Risk Advisory was part of external assurance given to our clients during their annual audit exercise. From there, my career has grown from strength to strength cutting across banking, public sector and now the Social Security sector.
What’s a typical day like as a Group Head of Risk, Compliance and Performance Monitoring ?
My typical day involves plenty of meetings. As you can imagine, risk management is deeply a people issue and demands close interactions with other managers on the current happenings within the organisation. I also schedule one-on-one briefs with my staff to ensure we are on top of the demanding work schedule. My day closes with a review of important communication via email and social media. On a quarterly basis, I will report back to the Board of Directors apprising them on key risk matters they need to be aware of.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I really enjoy the interactions with every part of the business which allows me to not only remain up-to-date with Group issues but also gives me wide exposure which is great for career and networking. A job in risk can never be boring as you encounter new stuff every day; this is a great way of engaging your mind and remaining in tune with the business environment.
What are the challenges?
My job involves a lot of report writing and this can take a toll particularly given the diverse nature of our Group. We also get bogged by technical areas which we are not necessarily adept at. Dealing with people is also not easy and often I come across difficult personalities with whom we disagree on some professional matters. Risk management is also slowly getting entrenched into corporate lingo, this makes it a hard sell particularly to those to whom its new to.
What made you decide to study the IRM International Certificate in ERM?
The IRM International Certificate in ERM is typically a must have for any risk leader. I think that I was late in pursuing it. However, having a globally accepted view of managing risk at my level was important since a lot of important stakeholders rely on my reports for critical decision-making purposes. Besides, having the certification is a definite career booster in the long run.
What has it taught you that you can immediately put into practice?
I have already begun an update of all our risk policies to bring them up to the globally acceptable level. My engagement with the rest of management has been intensified because of the learning to ensure they read from the same script as I am. I also conduct seminars and training on ERM, as such, I have upscaled how I deliver these seminars from the thorough knowledge I have obtained.
What would you say to other people considering studying the qualification?
Studying the IRM International Certificate in ERM is the most important career move any risk professional can make. Not only will you be able to authoritatively articulate issues within this domain and thereby win stakeholders’ support, but it will boost your career in the long run in an unmatched way. The team at IRM are also professional and helpful when it comes to guiding students along the studying process.
For anyone looking to join the risk profession, first this would be a timely move as risk management is a fast-growing area across the globe with few qualified practitioners.
Network widely with others who are already practicing risk management, this will give you ideas on which areas that may interest you or you may fare well in. Keep in mind, the profession is as wide as the industry itself.
Once you have settled into a risk career register to get certified by the IRM with the International Certificate in ERM as soon as possible to ensure you have a strong start for your career. With the right mindset and an equal amount of diligent study, you should be able to ace the exams in one sitting.