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Update from Stephen Sidebottom, IRM Chair

Turning a crisis into an opportunity

The global pandemic continues to cause uncertainty for businesses, and risk managers like you remain at the forefront of ensuring organisations survive and adapt. There’s currently a lot of focus in the UK on the risks associated with a return to the workplace, but this is only one specific aspect of the much bigger challenge of adapting to ongoing, unpredictable change.

Recent global events have seen China, Belgium and Germany facing devastating flooding. The Amazon rainforest has suffered the worst forest fires since 2007, which the National Institute for Space Research (INPE - Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations) attributes almost completely to deforestation. Tokyo residents and Olympic athletes are at risk not only from the spread of Covid but also extreme heat and the threat of a hurricane. The impact of climate change and other global risks affects us all. 

IRM will shortly be releasing our new Climate Change Risk Management Guidance document from the Climate Change Special Interest Group. I’d like to thank the Chair and group members: Martin Massey, Bogden Pletea, Darren Munday, Fred Vosenieks and Iain Felstead in advance for their work on this timely and important subject.

As you know, one of the most important skills of risk managers is their ability to connect disparate parts of the system, using often voluminous data to create insights and information about the next challenges which the business may face. This sense-making is even more critical given the magnitude of the current crisis, which could otherwise obscure the major and interconnected risks we face. Action is needed now to understand and manage the response to climate change risk, cyber risk, supply chain disruption, and the business threats from growing economic and geopolitical volatility.

Rising to this challenge goes well beyond traditional risk management approaches with a focus on risk registers and core processes. Great risk management is increasingly also about understanding horizon threats and identifying ways to build sustainable growth – whether that’s new markets, global opportunities, upgrading infrastructure or investing in new technology and automation.  

By channelling their skills and attention towards learning from the current crisis in a way that identifies new sources of value and growth, professional risk managers can help bring their organisations into a new competitive league.

Excellent risk management has never been a greater priority, and to be effective it must not be about stifling innovation and risk-taking, but instead about enabling rapid growth and adaptation. Good, professional, qualified risk managers maximise the chance of sustainable growth by optimising risk and making deliberate, informed decisions that position their organisations to respond to crises and exploit positive opportunities. 

The IRM, the Institute of Operational Risk (IOR – part of the IRM group) and our wider global risk management community has the skills and expertise to support risk managers as they sharpen their focus on resilience and strategic risk management. There's never been a more important time for you and your team to be up-to-date on the best practice required to mitigate risks effectively and to capitalise on opportunities for growth and efficiency.

Outstanding risk managers have deep levels of technical expertise, insight, and professional discipline that require ongoing education and learning.  The IRM’s world-leading qualifications and training programmes promote wide-ranging thinking and offer all levels of risk professionals the opportunity to grow and open their minds.

Good risk management is a major competitive advantage, and outstanding risk managers are the cornerstone of sustainable organisational growth and success.

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