Day two — top takeaways from our Virtual Governance and Risk Management Forum

I’ve been blown away by the calibre of speakers, attendee engagement and sponsor support for this event. Thank you for getting involved in this memorable, first-ever Virtual Governance and Risk Management Forum.

We hope you take these lessons and ideas back to your organisation — this is a challenging but opportunistic time for risk professionals.

Here are my top takeaways from day two of the event.

What does good governance and aerial skiing have in common?

No, this isn’t one of my dad jokes.

Jacqui Cooper, world champion aerial skier, opened the day with her insights on the intersection between advance planning, moving objectives and agility.

She showed us that we have to stay “super-flex” during the hard times and adversity. Jacqui said, “You need to be able to stay superflex. If you stay rigid, you’ll be left in the same place. If you’re fluid, you can move through tough times, faster and less scarred.”

And when considering the current COVID-19 pandemic, she believes if we have a champion attitude about coming out of this better than we were before, we’ll see champion results.

The results are in! Lack of crisis planning found to be a top risk in 2020

We released our 2020 Risk Management Survey results today with the help of a panel of risk management experts. The survey of 393 executives exposed a significant lack of crisis planning and other top risk pressure points.

Thanks to our speakers:

  • Ken Weldin FGIA, Partner, PKF
  • Mark Salomon, Group Risk Manager, Vicinity Centres
  • Raelene Murphy, Non-executive Director, Bega Cheese

Ken Weldin said, "The message is loud and clear from this survey: We have a long way to go and a lot to learn...”. He said that Boards and risk professionals need to look at problems, and ask ‘Could that happen to us’. If not, why not? That’s scenario planning.

Analysis of the latest Risk Management Survey results continued with Mark Salomon saying: “The concept of risk velocity is something we need to implement wider… and this dovetails into crisis planning.”

Raelene Murphy believes "There's no better time to be a risk management professional than at the moment." She says the benefits of a strong risk department are significant for an organisation, but the Board may need to be convinced first: “There is some way to go in proving the benefits of a robust risk management department," said Raelene.

Thank you to our National Gold research partner PKF for supporting us in this integral research project.

The CROs say we need to mitigate risks for a ‘new normal’

  • Chair: Tim Timchur FGIA, Board Member, Governance Institute of Australia & Director, 365 Architechs
  • Joanna Knox, Chief Risk Officer, Telstra
  • Karen Hughes, Chief Risk Officer, Australian Ethical Investments

Joanna Knox acknowledged we may be out of our risk appetite for some risks during this pandemic: “Boards need to consider which risks are now outside and inside of your appetite. Prioritise resources to risks that cannot fall outside of your risk appetite e.g. communication with customers or staff safety”.

Karen Hughes emphasised that: "Culture and communication play a significant role in risk. People are your greatest asset – keep them connected and motivated. Your employees need to see strong and effective leadership."

Thanks to our session sponsor Readinow.

You must elevate the voice of risk

Ilsa Shaw from Dataminr chaired this session, asking many excellent questions including “what role can real-time alerts play during a crisis such as COVID-19?”

Jason Brown National Security Director, Thales shared his ingredients for an effective risk management strategy: "You need communication up and down, where people are not afraid to speak the truth. If you can’t speak the truth, your organisation’s capacity to manage risk is undermined."

He wrapped up the conversation with Ilsa with an important reminder, “You need structures to encourage collaboration on risk as well as communication. The best risk manager needs to be the best networker. If you’re not a networker, the best risk management system won’t work.”

Cyber security experts need to be technology experts, as well as communications experts

After our ‘virtual lunch buffet’, we opened the afternoon of #GRMF2020 with a focus session by Iluka's CIO Matt Mueller FGIA who has issued a warning about "engagement fatigue" when communicating cyber security messages. He says it is important to think through these communications carefully "as we are all competing for bandwidth with the messages going out."

He added that you need to be able to talk about cyber security in a non-IT context, so people know what to do. Cyber security is highly technical. So you need someone in your organisation who understands the technology-side and they need to be able to communicate – that's two different skillsets, which can be a challenge.

Your staff’s mental health is your organisation’s wealth

Everyone is feeling the pressure of this new remote working environment.

Phil Slade, Behavioural Science Lead, Suncorp challenged us to consider that low emotional intelligence in our organisation is a massive lost opportunity for the organisation.

He introduced us to our ‘inner ape’. Our inner ape is attached to rules of thumb and they have cognitive bias. So if you apply bias that in the new context or new experience, and something goes wrong, you (your ape) will react badly. Our ape won’t see that the context has shifted, which means our biases don’t apply.

Phil said that for many who are working remotely, productivity goes up: "Switching off may be more of a problem than switching on."

X marks the spot — where strategy and risk intersect

Peter Deans, former Chief Risk Officer, BOQ addressed the challenges in coming up with a framework for business model risk. He believes a dynamic approach is needed to ensure the business strategy and risk appetite are aligned and can adapt to change.

Reconsider your risk assurance strategy

Thanks to our final session speakers:

  • Chair: Andrew Webster, Project Risk Partner, MLC Life Insurance
  • Daniel Atkin, Group Risk and Compliance Manager, Integral Diagnostics
  • Tom McLeod, Former Head of Risk, Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

We kept the momentum going for our last session. Andrew Webster asked the key questions of our Risk Assurance Strategy panel, including: What is the value of risk assurance for a business?

Tom McLeod said for risk assurance to be valuable, it needs to be integrated into the broader risk model, which is an evolving concept.

Daniel Atkin noted that the difference between risk management and risk assurance is the doing and checking. Risk management is saying what we intend to do, and risk assurance is testing if we did what we said we’d do.

Thanks again!

Thank you to:

  • you for registering and engaging in the event — your thought-provoking questions and discussions really helped us apply the insights to reality
  • our speakers — your insights inspired us and challenge us to continue lifting the bar on governance practice
  • our sponsors — without your support, we wouldn’t have been able to deliver such an amazing digital event
  • the team working behind the scenes — bringing such a well-received event together!

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