Interviews with previous winners of the RMOY

Posted in 2015.

The RMIA is receiving a steady stream of enquiries as members of the risk industry prepare to nominate themselves or colleagues for the Risk Industry’s most prestigious award. Recently we caught up with two former winners of the Risk Manager of the Year Award to find out what all the buzz was about.



Andrea Kanserski was Risk Manager of the Year in 2014


Can you tell us a bit about how you came to be nominated for Risk Manager of the Year?

 I have been working for Gallagher Bassett for seven years, and am the key person charged with designing risk framework, policy and systems as part of a wider corporate governance framework across the whole Australia/New Zealand company. As the risk culture becomes more entrenched across our organisation we have really started to see the benefits and results. Risk Management has become a way of supporting business decisions and making sure we are proactive for our clients. Aligned with this, client feedback in terms of governance has been positive, so much so we use it as leads. Part of our due diligence includes all our corporate governance frameworks. This policy and culture has seen our company grow from a $28M company when I joined to exceeding $140M in revenue currently, and expanding rapidly. Both in Australia and across the Asia Pacific the area of governance is regarded as a key cornerstone, and fundamental to the way we operate and to our success.

Gallagher Basset felt it was time to share these successes and engender respect for these achievements, so they put me forward for the award.

How did you feel on getting the news that you were the winner?

I was extremely pleased. In fact, pleased is an insufficient word. To be honest, I ran into the MD’s office jumping up and down. And I don’t normally run! It is hard to quantify, but it was a very exciting moment. It came on the back of a nomination process which can feel quite vulnerable, a bit exposed. It’s hard to know your benchmarks, all you can do is submit your best work and hope its worthy in comparison to your peers. I was very overwhelmed to know I had won given the calibre of my colleagues in the industry. There are some incredibly bright and innovative Risk Managers out there!

On the back of winning the Company invited me to Las Vegas where our GB global executives have a two yearly conference. Unexpectedly, I was awarded the Power of Gallagher Basset award which is pretty big! This is a 4.5B company globally speaking, so I was very chuffed and surprised. This took place in front of 1700 global delegates and senior executives.

I think more people from the Risk Management community should nominate.

At Gallagher Basset our amazing MD holds all staff accountable to governance and risk culture in the organisation, and achieving business objectives. If you are achieving then it is an indicator that you are disclosing and managing risks effectively, monitoring variances and issues. I want to acknowledge this fantastic operation and our corporate support team, and what they have achieved within the rapidly growing company. Risk Managers are actually facilitators. I am just a facilitator. This award is actually my company’s success.

How have things evolved since the time of your award?

The risk industry is increasingly exposed, but with this comes more access to other Risk Mangers which I really enjoy. Yesterday, for example, I did an hour support phone call with Telstra, who I met through the Risk Manager of the Year Tour. The opportunities open up dialogues and create new avenues of access for knowledge.

The industry needs to get risk managers to look broader than just their own backyard, more collaboration is needed. In my opinion, we need to let go of risk registers. What I mean by that is that Risk Managers need to hand the registers and accountability for risks over to the business. Risk Managers must become a trusted advisor and facilitator. Risks must be owned and managed by the business. I think Risk Managers are often frightened to let go of it, fear of making themselves redundant but I haven’t found that to be the case yet. Business changes, advisory things change in time, from becoming a driver to becoming an advisor and facilitator and that is critical. Now I support, monitor, supervise and on board with new products and lines of business. The Risk Management industry has evolved, Risk Managers need to evolve too. Not that they don’t retain oversight, but they can’t just clutch a risk register to their bosom and believe that their job is done. We must teach, train and give the tools to the business. We must challenge assessments. RMs must be prepared to challenge business and question them. Risk culture is about ownership and empowerment.

How did winning the award impact your relationship with your employer?

They were incredibly happy. Not just in Australia/ New Zealand but all the way into the division, my MDs boss sent me a lovely gift and thanked me, and news of my winning was on the global website. Also, as a direct result the GB Divisional Head invited me to the Power of Gallagher event in Las Vegas, where the achievement was recognised globally. The material is used in tenders, client letters and marketing collateral. It has been a fantastic experience.



Lisa Patat was Risk Manager of the Year in 2013

lisa_patatCan you tell us a bit about how you came to be nominated for Risk Manager of the Year?


I was approached by Tarique Razvi (RMIA board member in 2013), who encouraged me to apply based on his knowledge of how our iron ore business at Rio Tintowas applying enterprise risk management. I hesitated initially, as I was worried about the nominations process and assumed it involved a large workload. But in fact this was not the case. The application required explaining how the Enterprise risk framework was rolled out in the business and providing evidence that the process is in place and effective against a number of criteria, but it certainly did not require extensive work to compile this.  The Head of Group Risk in Rio Tinto also endorsed my nomination, which was of itself a good exercise.


How did you feel on getting the news that you were the winner?


It was actually quite a stressful interview situation. I had to undertake a trip to London on short notice, and got the time zones confused. So my interview was scheduled for midnight London time! So whilst the other nominees had face-to-face interviews, I did mine from a hotel room in London in the middle of the night! Due to my tiredness I had resigned myself that I had a slim chance of success, but the panel were great asking questions that I was easily able to draw on my experiences to answer. So I found I really enjoyed it, in the end. And within 24 hours, I received a call from RMIA to say I had won. I was very surprised but totally thrilled.


I hope this shows other potential applicants that it’s not a high performance interview process!


As the winner, I wasparticularly pleased because I felt it was a reward I received on behalf of my exceptional team. I really viewed this as a joint effort as a number of my team had been with me for the entire five years of the ERM journey. We have collectively transformed how risk is done here at Iron Ore, and I certainly couldn’t  have done it without them. The award added external recognition and  credibility to our achievements – motivating us to do more.


How have things evolved since the time of your award?


I think that industry wide there is an increasing understanding of how diverse enterprise risk is, and how important it is to integrate risk into all facets of an organisation. Risk Management was quite siloed in the early days, health and safety worked separately to finance & Insurance and so on. I was interested to hear Bob Jensen talk, during his recent keynote tour, on the importance of integration. This echoes my own experiences. I think one of the most powerful things I have learnt during my time here at Iron Ore, is the value of integrating risk into key decision processes – planning, auditing, strategy, investment decisions etc. We have to integrate risk management into existing business processes to ensure it is sustainable. I am quite excited that integration is starting to be discussed more in the risk management sphere.


Through winning the award I gained broader perspective on how risk is applied in other industries and companies, and I learnt that the challenges and successes in how we apply risk management in Rio Tinto is not unique to ‘our’ way of doing risk, but that we have synergies with so many other companies and sectors.


The Risk Manager of the Year Tour (keynote speech at each of the Australian chapters), also gave me great experience at public presentations! I don’t consider myself a natural at public speaking, but I  learnt that when you are talking on a topic you know well to an audience that is passionate about that same topic (Risk!) then it’s actually very enjoyable, very connecting. I found audiences were really interested in my experience- demonstrated by the fact that the questions often went for longer than the presentation itself! Risk professionals are eager to learn “how” enterprise risk is implemented, irrespective of which sector they work in- the learnings are valuable across all sectors.


The tour also exposed me to some great RMIA Chapters with talented people working really hard for RMIA. Meeting some of the passionate RMIA volunteers made me want to step up and contribute, rather than standing on the sidelines. In May 2014, I accepted an invitation to join the Board of RMIA and I am optimistic that we are on track to reinvigorate the risk community in Australasia.


How did winning the award impact your relationship with your employer?


Good question. Firstly, the award resulted in broad (company) recognition of the success of the enterprise risk implementation within Iron Ore, facilitated by the award being posted to all Rio Tinto employees via the Group Risk website. The external recognition was the icing on the cake really, confirming that I could successfully seek employment in the Risk Management Sector (beyond my current role).


SELVA TerryTerry Selva was Risk Manager of the Year in 2001.

Thanks for your time, Terry. Can you tell us a bit about how you came to be nominated for Risk Manager of the Year?
I was fortunate to win Risk Manager of the Year when the umbrella organisation was known as ARIMA, back in 2001. At the time, I worked for the Australian Red Cross blood service as their Risk Management Coordinator. I was nominated by a colleague in the organisation. Under the way the awards process worked then, I was notified about two weeks prior that I had won the award and received it at the ceremony at the ARMIA conference.

How did you feel on getting the news that you were the winner?

In a word, “chuffed”. It’s always a lovely thing to receive peer group recognition. At the time the prize for the award was a trip to an international conference, and I chose to go to a RIMS one in the US where I presented a paper. The sponsors allowed me to downgrade my business class travel to economy, allowing me to extend the trip to include Canada and London. It was my first trip to the States and the additional travel was fundamental in getting me established within an international community of interest in blood banking risk management.

How has the risk industry evolved since the time of your award?

Primarily the Standard has evolved. It was AS4360 when I won, and is more sophisticated now as ISO31000. Currently, risk management seems to be broadly accepted as part of the governance suite, whereas in those days it wasn’t.

How did winning the award impact your relationship with your employer?

My CEO at the time was already very enlightened about the importance of risk management, to his credit, and risk management was seen as a critical foundation in the blood banking organisation. Having said that, the award definitely increased my profile within the organisation, and the international profile was fantastic.

Interested in the nominations process? Find out more.

The 2015 Risk Manager of the Year Awards were proudly sponsored by SAI Global