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Risk in Focus: Andrea Cutinha IRMCert - Senior Enterprise Risk Management Professional, London

Andrea Cutinha IRMCert

Senior Enterprise Risk Management Professional, London

How did you get started in Risk?

I started working in Operational Risk over 10 years ago, in a global FTSE 100 oil & gas company. I was completing my training as a management accountant and was made aware that the company were recruiting an Operational Risk Analyst. My application was supported by the Head of Finance and was successful. It was excellent experience. Operational Risk was relatively mature in this organisation and in the three years I was in the role I was able to develop a solid foundation in the key building blocks of Operational Risk (RCSA, KRIs, and risk events). It was an ideal environment in which to learn and grow and I soon knew that I wanted to develop my career in risk management.

Tell us about your career background in risk since then?

I wanted to leverage my knowledge and put into practice what I had learnt from the FTSE 100 oil & gas organisation. I joined a soft commodities trading company where I designed and implemented the Operational Risk Framework across all the business units; this was hugely satisfying but also challenging to ensure that this framework was appropriate for the organisation which had a strong commercial and entrepreneurial focus. I spent over two years in this role and then accepted an opportunity that was focused on strategic risk management. I worked for a transport company in the public sector, where I was tasked with transforming the existing enterprise risk framework to ensure it was fit for purpose for the organisation. It was a valuable experience, working closely with the Executive Management team to identify the key strategic risks to the company, designing and implementing the risk appetite framework and simplifying the Risk Management function through a company-wide transformation. After this, I moved to a global FTSE 100 FMCG company where my role was to lead the development of risk management in the global businesses. This included helping the Executive Committee and Board to understand and manage current and emerging risks and support decision making. I’ve been fortunate to work for exciting and interesting companies in a broad range of industries, and to have developed my risk knowledge and skills with each career move.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the varied and dynamic nature of working in risk. Every day is different and the risk environment is constantly evolving. In any day I’m writing reports, delivering presentations and discussing risk issues with key stakeholders throughout the organisation, often in different parts of the world. My work has always been interesting, I get to understand the business and interact with all the key functions within the organisation. Building relationships with stakeholders at all levels (including Executive Management) is key and provides the opportunity to add value and make an impact to the overall business.

What are the challenges?

There can be some resistance to risk management, whether this relates to new risk initiatives, or making changes to existing ones. It is important to be pragmatic and to work with stakeholders so they see the benefits of effective risk management in the business.

What made you decide to study the International Certificate in ERM?

Risk management is a rapidly evolving profession. We live in a changing world, we are seeing greater volatility in markets, changes in the way we do business, and new threats from cyber security, natural disasters to global pandemics. Other professions have a framework by which they define best practice, develop a shared vocabulary and provide a forum for the sharing of knowledge and experience. As risk professionals we need to develop a framework that will enable us to take the profession to the “next level”.

I see the International Certificate in Enterprise Risk Management as contributing to this framework. It teaches best practice, enables participants to learn about key concepts, principles and approaches in risk management and provides a yardstick to better define a person’s knowledge.  Academic study can never replace the value of practical experience but I believe the combination of the two can significantly improve standards within our industry.

I chose to take the Digital Risk Management Certificate as cyber and data privacy risks are complex and feature prominently in most organisations. The introduction of new technology and digitalisation is disrupting many industries and I felt it was important as a well-rounded risk professional to understand these areas and equip myself to effectively manage the risks.

How was your experience of studying for the Certificate qualifications?

I started studying for the International Certificate in Enterprise Risk and Digital Risk qualifications after I left my last company, and did this intensively over two months. I liked the fact that these programmes are self-study and all the webinars are recorded. You can work at your own pace, and don’t need to worry about missing anything.  I thought both courses were well structured, with a good blend of theory provided in the Study Guide and recommended texts, prompting participants to consider how this can be practically applied in the real world. It helped strengthen my awareness of risk management concepts and enhance my knowledge of related areas such as insurance and business continuity. I was pleased to have passed these exams and I am now working towards the Enterprise Risk Management Diploma as I explore the path for my next risk management opportunity.

What will you do differently as a result of completing these Certificate qualifications?

There is an ongoing debate as to whether risk management is a science or an art. I think as risk management professionals, we tend to view it as more of an art, as there’s often no “right” or “wrong” answer in making a decision. It is about ensuring that there is adequate information to enable us to make an informed decision when balancing the probabilities and potential outcomes. After completing these qualifications, it will be useful to draw on theory to back up any decisions rather than make them based solely on experience or gut feel.

What advice would you give to others? – top 3 tips:

  • Do your research on qualifications and consider what is best for your current role and for your career aspirations. Reach out to individuals in the IRM community who have completed these qualifications and ask to have a chat about their experiences.
  • If you are a risk management professional, consider studying the International Certificate in Enterprise Risk. It provides a solid understanding of risk management concepts, techniques and best practice. For non-risk professionals, in business today we all need to be aware of the risks that we face. It is worthwhile to explore appropriate Certificate qualifications to better understand those risks and how they can be measured, managed and mitigated. Avoiding losses is a critical way of adding value to our organisations.
  • Risk management isn’t just about technical theory, so continue to develop your soft skills in parallel and be ready to apply your knowledge and skills in our changing world!



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