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Risk in Focus: Jamie Taylor, GradIRM, Risk and Compliance Graduate, Comparethemarket.com

The Institute of Risk Management (IRM) asks its members what working in risk is really like and what hints and tips they'd share with people looking to move into the industry.

Jamie has just completed his Diploma and we’re pleased to announce a revision to the way the qualification is delivered to new students.

The IRM has revised the syllabus for the International Diploma to ensure our students are informed of the best practices in risk management. Students will benefit from our new online learning platform, the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The VLE supports students step-by-step through the modules and provides activities and quizzes to help master the subject matter. Students can submit their assignments when they are ready, no more exam centres.

This Master’s level equivalent qualification has been developed by internationally recognised academics and industry practitioners to provide you with the knowledge and skills to manage risk and maximise opportunities in any organisation.

Jamie Taylor GradIRM

Risk and Compliance Graduate 

Comparethemarket.com (Part of the BGL Group)

 

How did you get your job?  

My interest in risk management stemmed from my undergraduate degree in Business with Risk Management at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Finishing university, the job market was tough and I started my career as a Commercial Graduate at a Marine Engineering firm. I worked in Finance, assisting to develop and standardise processes and procedures, enhancing cost control and decision-making visibility as the firm grew. Although not solely a risk management role, by nature of my job, I was managing risk within the business but always retained my passion to eventually move into a risk focussed role.

In 2018, I was successful in securing a place on BGL Group’s newly developed Risk and Compliance Graduate Programme. I have undertaken a number of rotations as part of the programme across 1st and 2nd line Risk and Compliance teams, most recently in BGL Group’s Price Comparison Website, comparethemarket.com. 

 

What’s a typical day like as a Risk and Compliance Graduate?

Like with many risk management roles, the day job is extremely varied. Working for a digitally focussed company, I work in an agile environment where I am constantly facing new and exciting challenges. I can find myself working on strategic initiatives, ensuring risks are managed within programmes and also reviewing the overall risk profile as part of the operational readiness aspect of project delivery.

There are of course some routine duties that form part of my role. I can be involved in providing independent assurance on the effectiveness of existing governance, risks, controls and monitoring arrangements, in addition to identifying and addressing gaps. I have the opportunity to engage with a variety of stakeholders across the business on areas such as regulatory compliance, legal queries, cyber risk management and third-party supplier management. Another aspect of my day job is preparing insight and reports for various governance forums.  

A core part of my job is that I work as a risk business partner for the Data Function. I provide independent advice and challenge to stakeholders across data teams and the wider business. I also routinely meet with my risk and sub risk owners to discuss their risk exposure and any concerns or issues.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The diversity and range of duties in my job is definitely a perk. Additionally, although the IRM qualification teaches you the fundamentals of risk management and helps you to apply a framework, application will vary depending on organisation.

I am fortunate to work in a company with an exciting and ambitious strategy. I am constantly learning about new initiatives, tools and strategies which I need to understand to assist the business to overlay risk management, helping to identify associated risks and decide on the best treatment strategy.

I enjoy having the opportunity to build relationships with stakeholders at all levels of the business. I need to understand what the key business concerns are and retain a holistic view, keeping an eye on other projects and programmes in the business to identify risks and dependencies – I would say this is a pretty unique position to be in.

I enjoy educating stakeholders on risk management and it’s extremely rewarding when you experience a cultural shift from individuals who may previously have viewed you as a blocker to then becoming a trusted partner who is actively inviting you into their conversations to assist.

What are the challenges?

To many, risk management is a relatively new concept. When risk management is undertaken effectively, it can be challenging to evidence the benefits.

In situations like the recent pandemic, you begin to see the value-add of an organisation with good risk management and business continuity, versus an organisation that didn’t have the appropriate strategies to quickly adapt to changes in environment.

What would you say to others thinking about taking the International Diploma in Risk Management?

I would encourage anybody working in a risk management profession to undertake some formalised training. The IRM is a globally recognised body and besides it looking great on your CV, I found the theory relevant and it gave me additional foundational knowledge on top my undergraduate degree.

You have the opportunity to meet and interact with a number of other risk management professionals located across the world, depending on your study group. I found the discussions to be extremely insightful on the study forums and I was fortunate with my module coaches - many worked in consultancy and were able to really bring the content to life.

I would say the Diploma involves an investment in time, especially during preparation for the exam. There is a fair amount of reading and the examinations require critical thought. Personally, I found that as you progress through the modules, it becomes less about simply learning the theory and more about the practical application – this is particularly relevant in Modules 5 and 6 which are assessed with a case study. (This has now changed with the revised syllabus).

Overall, a worthwhile commitment. It can be hard balancing a full-time job, studies and other commitments but the hard work has paid off.

What have you been able to put into practice in your job as a result of what you have learnt?

 Undertaking the Diploma during my first focussed Risk and Compliance role was definitely beneficial. This was complimented with the learnings and training from my line managers and directors. I would say having practical experience helped in my critical thinking during exams, as I could blend textbook learning with real life experiences.

 Secondly, the Diploma has given me a more rounded view of the importance of a well-embedded governance structure and a better appreciation of some of the forums I provide reporting for. It has provided me the opportunity to challenge and effectively contribute to discussions around ways to improve approaches to enterprise risk management in my role.

Top tips

  1. Have an interest in the industry you work in. Risk management is more than just theory and frameworks – it involves understanding current business issues but also an interest in changes in the macro-environment and how this may impact your business. It’s important that you keep up to date with industry news.
  2. Use social media and other recruitment resources to build an appreciation of the industry and network with other risk professionals. LinkedIn groups can be an excellent way to understand current industry issues. Additionally, looking on recruitment websites at the roles and responsibilities of a risk analyst/manager can help you to tailor your application and highlight transferrable skills.
  3. Have a goal and don’t give up on it. The job market is tough and when I began my career in a finance role in engineering, it was sometimes difficult to envision how my career path would change course, directed more towards my job aspirations from University. I applied for my graduate programme three years after graduating and never thought I would get the opportunity. However, here I am, about to finish my graduate programme, taking on a permanent position in risk management, with outstanding support and a company that is great to work for.

 

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