Australian risk managers gathered in Melbourne to discuss their role in international operations

International flags

A recent StrategicRISK panel discussion held in Melbourne focused on the many people risk issues that arise when operating across borders.

The event provided a platform for participants to consider everything from staff travel, health and safety, to corruption and developing a risk culture across regional operations.

Moderated by StrategicRISK’s Asia-Pacific editor Jessica Reid, the discussion featured an outstanding line-up of experts engaging in free and frank discussion in front of an audience of more than 40 risk and insurance professionals.

To ensure that no topic was off limits, the discussion was held behind closed doors under the Chatham House rule.

However, SR can reveal that there was overwhelming support for the growing acceptance of risk managers as trusted business advisors for boards.

As one participant put it: “As risk practitioners we always talk about risk, but boards set the tone. Top management must make that call used on the advice they receive. It’s easy to get a high level appreciation of the risk/threat environment, but it doesn’t translate to how you operate on the ground. You have to make educated decisions.”

It was generally agreed that effective travel risk management was essential to ensure staff were safe and free to do their jobs in foreign environments. It was about “duty of care to our people and our contractors”, as one participant explained it. “It’s putting a value on life that others may not do,” he said. “The board really wants us to do that.”

It was also pointed out that hiring good people in key areas was essential to facilitating successful international expansion. Comprehensive awareness of the whereabouts, strengths and weaknesses of your core staff, on top of your company’s other major assets, was seen as of immense strategic value. One participant described it as follows: “If you don’t know what your crown jewels are, including your human capital, you have an issue.”

As you would expect, the spectre of cyber attack loomed large in the discussion. A lack of skilled personnel across the globe who are able to cope with the considerable and growing cyber attack challenge was seen as a massive problem. “It’s unprecedented,” one panellist warned. “We don’t have enough talent around the world to cope with what we’re faced with.”

The discussion ended with consideration of how companies needed to impose and maintain their own risk cultures across their regional operations. The question was posed, “how do you employ a high-integrity framework in countries where you will be challenged?”.

The formal debate was followed by a networking lunch that saw further discussion of some of the topics raised earlier.

The AIG and XL Catlin-sponsored event formed part of StrategicRISK’s 2016 Asia-Pacific Risk Forum Series, which will continue across the region throughout the year. To see the StrategicRISK events calendar, click here.