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Part IV | Perception: the risk manager’s job is to manage risk vs. Reality: to run a company


The Risk Manager’s Job is to Manage Risk


The Risk Managers Job is to Run a Company

If I had better foresight, maybe I could have improved things a little bit. But frankly, if I had perfect foresight, I would never have taken this job in the first place.
- Richard F. Syron[1]

[1] Former chairman and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, commonly known as Freddie Mac.

You’d expect that, were you hired to be a risk manager or business continuity manager, you’d spend the majority of your time managing risk, incidents, and crises. But that ends up being just a fraction of the job.

So what are we really doing?

Think Like an Entrepreneur

Remember our recommendation back in the first book in this series to frame risk management planning as another product or service produced by the company, and organize its implementation as you would any other roll-out? We’re in charge of that roll-out.

Running a global risk management program is like running a business. Casting ourselves as the CEO makes it easy to see how the plan needs a business model, branding, a value proposition, channels to market, product characteristics—all the basic ingredients necessary to run any business.

Act Like a Politician

Every company, whether it’s 2 or 200,000 people, has politics. We have friends, foes, alliances, coalitions, evangelists, and everything in between. And if you’re the CEO, every single one of them wants something from you.

This means we also need to be politicians. We’ll be making decisions that affect people, and their families and careers. That comes with significant baggage—some people will love us and some… not so much. They’ll talk behind our backs. Some will try to manipulate us, and others will try to kiss our butts. We need to stop being practitioners and focus on being leaders, because face it: Just like all politicians, our job is to stay in office.

What to Remember

Find the right balance between being entrepreneur and the politician:

  • Instill desired characteristics – Create our ideal culture by establishing a value system that we enforce by demonstrating personally. Clearly communicate the consequences of stepping outside that system.
  • Run, sell, and deliver – Treat what we do as brands and services. Build a business plan as if we need to receive funds from individuals.
  • Be a leader – Being a politician is at least half the job of global corporate roles. Learn how to do it or find someone who will.
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Related content

5 fresh perspectives: seeing the world differently
Part I | Perception: people will believe vs. reality: people just don’t care
Part II | Perception: it’s like building a house vs. Reality: it’s like running a farm
Part III | Perception: it’s a paint-by-numbers vs. Reality: you paint it like pollock
Part IV | Perception: the risk manager’s job is to manage risk vs. Reality: to run a company
Part V | Perception: we can control everything vs. Reality: we can only influence