A new generation of risk professionals will enter the profession with diversity of new skills and thinking. We need to harness and encourage their development so that together, we are #ChangingRisk for the better, writes Patrick Aubrey, risk manager for Turner and Townsend
I have the great privilege of leading a team of risk managers, but what astounds me is that each and every one is totally different in their approach, style and behaviours. Yet they all produce quality results and deliverables. I have never thought that there is only one door to becoming a great risk manager. We bring with us our experience, knowledge and unique style to get great results for our projects, programmes and clients. But, as a profession, we are of limited numbers. And as we continue to infiltrate projects, the desire for greater support will ultimately become resource constrained. A failure to develop new talent will result in a return to a laconic and compliant approach to project risk.
A failure to develop new talent will result in a return to a laconic and compliant approach to project risk
But, the industry is continually changing. Quoting George Couros, “in a world that is constantly moving forward, if you are standing still, you are falling behind”.
If the risk profession is not agile, today’s techniques will become lost to tomorrow’s technology of automation and AI and with it, a generational opportunity to create exceptional risk leaders
If the risk profession is not agile, today’s techniques will become lost to tomorrow’s technology of automation and AI and with it, a generational opportunity to create exceptional risk leaders. We cannot continue to use the existing ways of recruitment and retention if we are going to continue to grow.
I have always maintained that risk management is one of the hardest skills to learn in the project management syllabus – a fragile blend of the hard mathematical science and the soft art of people skills, where IQ and EQ meet, and simplicity and complexity are in a continuous battle.
The most successful risk managers are those who are able to bring a passion to their subject and navigate away from ‘what needs to be done?’, through ‘how to do it?’ and into ‘why this is important?’. Our clients, who regularly buy in to our risk service, are sold on the ‘why’.
We need to find people with the natural curiosity in risk, explain that it can be the most fundamental part of delivering a project, and inspire them to join the club rather than scare them off by fantasising the technicality of the process.
Our job as current leaders, once we have them, is to create a flourishing environment where we:
- Know what technical, tactical and psychological skills are needed to make risk come to life
- Create positive conditions where their risk talents can grow
- Teach about the values of personal and professional integrity and how it factors into risk-based decision making
- Develop and foster individual character and team ethics
- Teach not only the skills to make risk managers capable in their role, but also the behaviours required to apply technical excellence
- Empower them to find their passion for risk and drive them to embrace and learn more about it
- Are not scared when they are better than us
Tomorrow’s managers and the future risk leaders may not yet be on a project risk management path. They will come from other areas of project delivery, they will move from other areas of risk and they will graduate with risk qualifications ready to deliver.
We need to harness their energy and show them how great they can be. In return, we take pride from revolutionising the industry and continue to change project delivery for the better. The next generation of risk leaders will:
- Learn in new ways, through technology rather than classroom learning
- Look for inspiration from today’s leaders, rather than copy our methods
- Have the want to define their own standards
- Not see technical skills as milestones and place higher emphasis on being creative rather than conforming
Maybe we should do that too?