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Too much information, too little time...

Posted By IRMSAInsight, 20 November 2014

As a Risk Manager, how do you keep up to date on trends in your discipline, your world, your company and specific industry?

How do you manage the sheer volume of information that is available to you?

Perhaps you are the Operational Risk Manager for a Mining company that has coal mines all over the world, as an example…

 “Severe weather over the whole of Sydney Australia has caused extensive flooding and will continue over the next few days. Disaster Management teams are responding to critical areas and safety of people is the priority…”

1.       Were you listening to the news and did you hear this report?

2.       Does your company have operations in Sydney Australia?

3.       Are you responsible for the Risk Management around the Australian operations or could you be called on to support the wider group?

4.       Is your company likely to be affected by flooding if they have operations there?

5.       Are there any potential supply chain issues related to this exposure?

The key question is “do you need to do anything about this” and if so, what and how quickly…

Ø  How best can you spend your valuable time, listening, reading and researching what you need to know to either do your job or grow and develop yourself?

Ø  Consider the sources of information available and learn to be ruthless!

Some suggestions:

a)      Decide on which radio/TV/News station you will follow as appropriate for your business and how often you need to listen in. Most news is repeated every half an hour and the “breaking news” concept helps us to hear about critical issues as they happen.

b)      Make sure your business e-mail is ONLY used for business, fun stuff should go to your personal e-mail address or via social media. Plan time to go through work e-mails during the day and wherever possible “read it once” and decide what to do with it. Try to avoid keeping a constant watch on your e-mails as this may disturb your concentration, if someone needs you that urgently – they will phone you!

c)       Some companies subscribe to a “clipping” service where all news related to the entity and/or industry is collated and provided in one mail to staff – find out if this is done in your company and get onto the list.

d)      What industry information might you need? Consider your specific responsibilities as a Risk Manager and look for appropriate newsletters or web sites that you can check regularly. Have a look at the excellent work done by Martin Creamer and his team and subscribe to Mining Weekly… this will probably give you most of what you need but you may need to think through how to supplement with more relevant international information that may be necessary for your role.

e)      As a Risk Manager you need to keep up to date on changes in your profession. Again, select specific newsletters that will give you both local and international input. LinkedIn is sometimes an additional source of information, as is IRMSA’s website.

f)       Work on your networks – people within your profession or specific industry – share information with them and hopefully they will reciprocate.

g)      Make sure the sources you use are credible and that you can verify data if necessary.

h)      Once you have collated all of your critical sources, unsubscribe from everything else – you don’t have time to look at everything but re-consider regularly if the options you have chosen are appropriate for your needs.

So now you have covered your company, your specific industry and your discipline or profession… how about personal growth? You have liberated some time to look towards your future…

Ø  Do you think you will remain the Risk Manager for this mining entity for the next 5 years?

Ø  No? OK then what type of role would you like to take on and for what type of industry?

Ø  How interesting… you want to move to an Enterprise Risk Management position in a food manufacturing entity based in Africa.

Perhaps you might consider:

1.       Reviewing a variety of food related Annual Reports on the internet and understanding what the “food” business is about, locally and internationally.

2.       Researching issues around food manufacture and the types of events that might impact the business both historically and in the future.

3.       Find a friendly Risk Manager who is or has been involved in the food industry and ask if you can chat with them about your plans.

4.       Chat to friends and colleagues about your thoughts, ask for their views and support but remember you may not want your plans to get back to your current employer…

5.       Look for a specific job that may suit what you want to do and identify what skills you need to develop to be able to do the job, and plan how you will develop these skills within your timeframe.

6.       Have a clear goal around what you want, by when, who is involved, why that specific industry, where the job might be located and how you are going to get it.

7.       Perhaps it is time to engage a coach to support you in your journey?

In addition, you will be expected to have a far greater understanding of the countries in which you will be operating, together with International trends within your proposed “new” industry so you will need to keep up to speed with such issues as you grow and learn.

Good luck in your quest to rationalise your information needs, and I am sure that you will get that new job if you approach it the right way.


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