A day in the life of: a Risk & Assurance Advisor

Lisa KhanLisa Khan, CMIRM
Governance, Risk & Assurance Advisor [GRA] - Holdings & Treasury 
Shell International Ltd, London 

How did you get your job?

I have over 15 years’ experience working in Finance, the last 11 being in Shell, with roles covering financial analysis, identifying and implementing continuous improvement opportunities and controls, governance, risk and assurance. I started off as a SOX consultant in 2005. After learning about the benefits of the IRM, I started the IRM certificate course and continued onto to the Diploma. It was very beneficial to me to attain this particular qualification as Risk management was gaining momentum at the time and was such a hot topic. In this regard, IRM was an avenue to many opportunities which helped build the path for my career development.

What’s a typical day like as a GRA Advisor?

No two days are the same in the GRA department. I work in a unique and fast paced business with multiple risk areas so as a GRA Advisor, I must be flexible to adapt to changes as required. Ongoing tasks in this role include influencing and managing stakeholder expectations for adequate management of the GRA framework and resolution to issues and problems. I must embrace the ability to manage multiple and often conflicting priorities and being able to professionally manage sensitive issues and provide open, honest feedback to others.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

GRA can be considered as the eyes and ears of the department. We provide advice and direction. As such, I find the challenges fulfilling, rewarding and intellectually stimulating. What I have enjoyed most of all, however, is the collaboration it allows between myself and my peers. Therefore, having the ability to work effectively across organisational and cultural boundaries in a virtual setting is essential to me. I take care to build trust and facilitate cooperation, something that is also very important to me, continuously seeking to learn more about different cultures which help me to grow and adapt my personal style.

In what way is your IRM qualification relevant?

My IRM qualifications have helped me develop my knowledge base, capability and confidence, expanding my horizons as an individual. I was one of the people first awarded as a Certified Risk Manager last July, launching my career platform even further having this gold standard for the risk management profession. IRM offers the combination of practice and principles of risk management with universal relevance, designed for all sectors – private, public and not for profit sectors, offering  individuals the knowledge, skills and behaviours expected of competent risk professionals.

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

My specialist qualifications are in Risk Management in Governance and Financial Services, and in the years I have developed an expertise in Corporate Governance frameworks as well in the application of enterprise risk management, which has allowed me understand and improve the existing governance and control frameworks, in particular within the pensions environment.

My career ambitions are to continue working in a challenging and dynamic area to ensure the design and operating effectiveness of an adequate risk and control framework. Providing effective Management services and ensuring appropriate oversight in line with Group & Country Controller Guidelines.

Top Tips

I want to give the following advice to those thinking of becoming an effective risk manager:

1. Understand the business and be an active listener;

2. Be engaging and work collaboratively with other members of your organisation;

3. Be that “go to” person;

4. Continuously keep well-informed with current and regulatory matters, and

5. Keep your risk management knowledge and skills up to date.

Regardless of being new to the Risk Profession or not, the IRM courses are designed specifically to help forge a successful career and will help steer you in the right path.