My career journey to Group Risk Manager for the BPAY Group

With fifteen years of experience in corporate governance under my belt, I am currently working as the Group Risk Manager at BPAY. Risk and governance is not something I always intended to go into, but it has proven to be one of the most versatile and rewarding career paths.

How I became Group Risk Manager for the BPAY Group

I had been trying a variety of different jobs while I was studying — finance, media and public relations. My first governance-related role was a Paralegal Contract Manager in a legal department for a listed company. It was a small department. There were only two of us, so I also looked after some of the company secretarial duties. That was where I first came across governance as a concept.

From there, I decide I wanted to work in governance more broadly. I moved to BPAY for an opportunity in a new department that encompassed company secretarial, risk, compliance and contract management. For a few years, I worked across BPAY in different areas, including compliance, governance and joint venture management. Then I decided I wanted to specialise, and that’s when I decided to do the Graduate Diploma of Applied Corporate Governance.

The Graduate Diploma helped me a lot because it is very practical and really touches upon those key areas that you need to know as a Company Secretary such as:

  • the Corporations Act
  • board meetings
  • minutes
  • the company constitution.

Once I completed my postgraduate study, I was appointed Company Secretary of a joint venture we were running and also moved into an Assistant Company Secretary role at BPAY. During that time, I worked quite closely with the Group Risk Manager, so when that role became available, I had a formal background as well as experience, so I had the opportunity to put my hand up for that role as well.

How Governance Institute helped me along my career journey

I started out doing some of the individual short courses that were specific to my role and then I knew I wanted to be a Chartered Secretary so I did postgraduate study. I found this very practical in terms of what company secretaries and corporate governance professionals actually do. I found the course quite unique in that sense.

The formal recognition and qualification was very beneficial and I still do some of the short courses to keep up to date. I am also a Fellow member of Governance Institute and the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators.

What a day in the life of a Group Risk Manager looks like

It is safe to say I rarely have a regular day! I look after corporate governance and company secretariat for our BPAY companies as well as our Group Risk Framework. A day can involve anything from executive risk committee meetings or preparing for board meetings to working with our risk champions or going to risk workshops.

In addition to this, we also look after insurance, crisis management and policy management so we could be planning a crisis exercise, updating our plans and working across the business. No two days look the same — there really is a variety of things to be working on.

The best part of my role

From the risk management side, I cannot think of many other roles where you are able to work so thoroughly across the business. You need to think about what’s important for the strategy, what’s important in an operational sense and the impacts on  your customers. I think risk management is a career that gives job versatility and is something you can come at from a number of angles.

From my background in governance, the benefit is seeing risk as a part of the overall governance framework of the company. Other people may come at it from different aspects such as legal or accounting.

The most challenging part of my role

Keeping up with the speed of what is happening within the company can be challenging as we have such an innovative culture. There are always new developments, not just internally, but externally as well. Keeping up to date with changes in the governance and risk environment can be quite tough.

Risk management for one, is experiencing great change, as it is moving into the cultural spotlight. Everyone is starting to acknowledge that it’s about behaviour and people, so things are not as black and white as they once were. That is what makes risk management so challenging, but also what makes it so interesting.

Being a member of Governance Institute helps me to keep up to date with what is happening in the profession. I have full access to their digital journal: Governance Directions which keeps me in the know about changes and trends in the corporate and regulatory world. I also have access to their Resource Centre which is filled with useful guides, templates and best practice documents.

Why good governance and risk management practice is so important

It is timely to be working in governance and risk management at the moment. These fields are more important than ever, when you think about the expectations externally from regulators and stakeholders. It is not just about compliance, it’s about how decisions are being made within a company and how they manage themselves. It’s not just about what a company does, but why they do it and whether they should do it. To have a solid governance structure on top of that cultural discussion will only become more crucial for any organisation.

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