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From the Archives: Being a Risk Professional

Friday 11 December 2020

After October’s GRC2019 Conference, the  GRC Professional Magazine  got an opportunity to pose some questions to Associate of the Year Award winner,   Lisa Forsyth, Head of Operational Risk   at Hume Bank. So, how does one become a ‘good’ risk professional in a fraught regulatory and risk environment where the goalposts always seem to be moving?
Congratulations on the Associate of the Year Award! What has winning this award meant for you?
It’s humbling to receive the award but also incredibly gratifying—and any opportunity to celebrate the achievements and successes of our peers in the GRC field is critical for a strong industry culture and, hopefully, helps to raise profile the profession as a whole.
Tell me about your professional journey   to operational risk?
I started my career in sales and operations before moving to compliance in various policy, advocacy and advisory roles. After gaining experience in some challenging compliance and economic conditions, I was fortunate to evolve my skills into broader risk management disciplines and have continued to work across these areas for most of the last decade.
What is the most challenging part of being a risk professional?
Progressing organisational risk culture to a desired maturity can be slow, and often, that progression is not linear. It can also be complicated by fast-moving innovation in industries where risks may be unknown or not well-understood.
What is the most rewarding aspect of   your role?
Understanding the unique importance of my role to an organisation’s growth and strategic playbook is incredibly rewarding. Ensuring our operations are controlled and tested, and that they deliver effective and fair outcomes for our customers is also meaningful and valuable.
What are the ideal attributes of a risk professional?

Curiosity: you have to love process and impact rabbit holes to truly understand the mechanics of any risk being assessed or controlled. Clear thinking: breaking down the complex and being able to explain risks in simple terms is critical! And tenacity: to keep asking  why  until clarity is achieved.
What advice do you have for risk professionals who want to get ahead in their career?
Focus on partnering the business to ensure risk decisions are informed and measured. You can build credibility quickly if you develop your commercial and financial acumen. Balancing risk and growth strategies can be difficult when you don’t understand the levers for both.