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How career prospects are looking in risk management


May 16, 2019   by Greg Meckbach


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Are you one of those brokers who’s thinking of changing jobs so that you’re buying commercial insurance instead of selling it?

“There is a shortage of supply [of risk managers], so if anybody is looking for a fast way to move up the organization today, it’s probably risk management,” Sonia Baxendale, president and CEO of the Global Risk Institute, said Tuesday during a panel discussion at the Payments Canada Summit.

“It’s a place that is getting more and more respect in organizations, more and more time at the table, more recognition at board levels, [and] more recognition by CEOs,” Baxendale said of the risk management profession.

Baxendale was asked by the moderator – Maggie Smith, director of operational risk at Payments Canada – what piece of practical advice she would give to someone who is looking to get into a career or role in risk management.

“Good risk management is not really achieved through using a stick. It’s more about the carrot. It’s about partnership and bringing others along in the organization with you,” Baxendale said during the panel, titled “Not so risky business if you’re prepared: Best practices in risk management.”

Baxendale has been CEO of GRI – a thinktank whose members include the Insurance Bureau of Canada, Munich Re and Fairfax Financial – since 2018. Her previous roles include president of CIBC Retail Markets and co-interim president and CEO of Foresters Financial.

Appearing on the same panel as Baxendale, Payments Canada’s deputy chief risk officer Roxana Baranowski suggested that risk managers need to have the courage to bring difficult issues to the attention of senior executives.

“You can really bring a lot of good sense and establish partnerships with the leaders if you show that you are not there just for a checklist but to add value and you are okay to have some more of those tense conversations,” said Baranowski.

“You really have to have an interest and an ability to understand different businesses. It’s not only being an expert in risk management.”

The Payments Canada Summit – held Tuesday through Thursday at Canadian National Exhibition grounds in Toronto – was hosted by Payments Canada, which operates the clearing and settlement systems used by Canadian financial institutions. About $200 billion in transactions – using debit cards, pre-authorized debits, direct deposits, bill payments, wire payments and cheques – go through Payments Canada every day.

Tuesday’s speakers discussed a wide variety of issues, including modernizing payments so they settle more quickly, cybersecurity and consumer protection.