Ever tried to quit? Reflections of a Risk Management Practitioner (Part 2)
Have you ever tried to quit being a risk management practitioner or been on the verge of giving up? If so, this article is definitely a must-read!
In the last article, the focus was on acknowledging how challenging being a risk management practitioner can be and identifying ways to keep motivated on the job. The discussion was focusing on three aspects of winning being: 1. Keep it simple. 2. Making risk management fun. 3. Treating risk maturity as a project.
Essentially all these factors acknowledge that risk maturity will not be achieved overnight. This week's article is a continuation, unpacking other aspects that have helped me with my personal journey in risk management. These may be equally helpful in any other career as well. While being a risk manager isn't always going to be fun, these are some additional aspects that make it much easier and worth the journey:
- Upskill yourself: Most of the time, we lose inspiration when we feel like we are doing the same thing over and over again. Fortunately for risk managers, there are so many risk types that we can learn. This will definitely keep us curious about the profession. When you reach a point where you get used to what you're doing, you can enrol for a course which offers knowledge in a different risk type from the one you are currently focusing on.
In my personal experience as an Operational Risk Manager, I did my post-graduate studies in investigative and forensic accounting and fraud risk management. This then allowed me to explore a different risk type and refreshed my perspective, especially when it comes to critical analysis and investigative thinking. I managed to derive investigative reasoning and other skills sets which I would not have attained on the job. The blend between theory and practice can keep you inspired and motivated to continue with the risk management profession and ensure you do not quit!
- Expand the risk management footprint: Before reaching a point where you feel managing risk in the workplace is not as inspiring, you must consider expanding your knowledge to the broader community. This can be achieved by being a part of a programme or creating a platform for information sharing. With my personal journey, I chose to create awareness on risk management, especially for SMMEs through the #MoriskiByNature column. I also expanded my risk management offering by participating as an expert speaker on risk management issues locally, within SADC and Africa on various platforms and events. By so doing, I practise risk management at a corporate, national, regional and pan-African level.
This balance keeps me inspired, especially as all these platforms offer different growth opportunities. If I was practising risk management at a corporate level only, perhaps I'd feel limited, but other platforms enable me to add value in the broader community while also learning as much and implementing some of the strategies within the workplace. It becomes a very cool cycle, so to speak.
- Have a mentor: Mentors provide a lot of guidance regarding one’s career as they have probably undergone similar experiences before. So, if you want to thrive as a risk management practitioner, it is important to identify with someone in the field with whom you can interact and share experiences. They are likely to handhold you when things get tough. I have different mentors locally and in SA who inspire me in different ways. I am able to engage them on various challenges that I encounter in my own personal and career journey. With the experience they have in the field, engaging them enables me to merge different powerful ideas that keep me going on a daily basis. Infact, every time I think of quitting, I reflect on their journeys to draw strength.
- Take time out: The work of a Risk Manager, like most other jobs, gets really overwhelming at times. When you feel swamped, it is often a sign that you need to take time out. This is often achieved through taking a leave break. It is important to use this time to breathe and re-energise. Avoid doing hectic things during this time and ensure that you are fully rested. I know sometimes this is not possible, as in my case where I practically spent the past three years without taking a much-needed break because I spent my leave days fulfilling my academic-related travels and attending tuitions. That meant I couldn't rest at all.
To manage this, I promised myself that once done with my studies, I will take a year's break to recoup and do things that help me feel rested and those very close to my heart. Striking the balance in work, personal development and maintaining appropriate rest levels is difficult to achieve, especially for many young corporates. But while that is the case, it is very important to take time out. Whenever you feel overwhelmed or not inspired to work, always take time out even if it's a day or two. It can make a difference.
The complexities we encounter as risk management practitioners can easily make us want to escape. However, it is very crucial to unpack the feeling before going on to change careers. I encourage you to try all the possible interventions and see how it goes.