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It has been a year of 20 plenty

14 October 2020 Myra Knoesen
Spiros Fatouros, CEO of Marsh Africa

Spiros Fatouros, CEO of Marsh Africa

In setting the scene for the Institute of Risk Management South Africa (IRMSA) Annual Digital conference, Conference Facilitator, Jeremy Maggs, opened the conference by stating we are all in uncharted territories. “Risk management is on the move as a profession, and 2020 is the year for #riskactivism.”

In uncharted territories

Sharing the same sentiment Thabile Nyaba, IRMSA President, mentioned that 2020 has brought about many surprises. “It has been a year of 20-plenty… this is a year for #riskactivism and our time to stand up and be heard. The world is changing, new technologies, operation models etc. are changing, so we need to change too, and be on top of our game. We need to understand our digital environment and technology, because risks are becoming intertwined and connected. We need to have the tools and knowledge to help us. We need to be influencers and leaders in our organisations, to survive, thrive and be resilient. The future of risk management is here.”

Herman Mashaba, Leader of ActionSA then went on to talk about the state of the country's politics, economy and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The pandemic has highlighted the gaps in South Africacrime, corruption, inequality, political instability, economic pressures etc., and in enduring the hardships, we will overcome.” 

A digitally enabled future

Spiros Fatouros, CEO of Marsh Africa said, “When we look at history books, we look at all the events that have shaped today. The recession, for example, and its ripple effect. History is repeating itself with the Covid-19 pandemic… trading doors closed, economies have been affected etc. And just like that, the shift happened… we all took it digital. We have had to adapt to the new normal. However, the question is, are we preparing or are we prepared for the next 10 years and the next black swan event?” 

“The digital era is here. It brings opportunity and challenges. Traditional firms, for example, are moving across to digital platforms to gain value and competitive advantage. However, they also realise that technology brings with it disruption and threats. Firms are asking questions in terms of strategy migration, value creation etc.,” added Fatouros.

“We need to transform and reimagine solutions amid this pandemic and try to navigate the future. Digital is no longer a choice; it is the new norm. Some have adapted well, others have struggled. As risk managers we need to ask ourselves questions. In terms of connectivity, are there synergies? How will the new and existing systems work together and how will they impact organisations? As risk managers we need to think of all the risks posed in the digital environment. We need to think of cyber attacks and the data that is at risk. The tech landscape is rapidly changing, are you flexible enough to keep up and adopt quickly enough to keep up with the trends? When was the last time you reviewed your business model? Have you thought of the next 10 years and if your models are suitable?” questioned Fatouros.

“Develop effective resilience, understand your capabilities and face future fears. Combine traditional techniques with new techniques and prepare for the future. Define risks and scenario plan to come up with a plausible map in this shifting world. Covid is merely a dress rehearsal… prepare for the next black swan event with a risk intelligent future,” concluded Fatouros.

Creating a resilient business model

In overcoming the hardships and challenges by creating a resilient business model, Nadine Rix National, Risk Officer at BDO, said “Organisations that are resilient are able to learn from their mistakes. Leadership capability is important. The characteristics of resilience are a sense of control, being goal orientated, problem solving, connection, asking for help and having the survivor mentality. These characteristics represent business resilience. Make sure data, systems and processes are in place, and more importantly, ensure trust within the organisation for individual resilience. An organisation’s people are important.” 

On another important note, inter-generational leadership is important for organisational continuity and resilience. Nicola Comninos, Group CRO at JSE said, “Organisations are struggling at the moment to adapt to the new way of working as the majority of management is Baby boomers. So, the way of working is so different to what they were used to, and then we have Millennials and different generations. There are different BREAK dynamics to think about in leading different generations. Is your organisation ready for generation Alpha and Beta? Which generation are you part of? Does your organisation pay enough attention to inter-generational leadership?”

Junita Van Der Colff, Owner and Managing Director Protean Group said, “We have so much uncertainty, but we have the ability to respond with speed and agility to bounce back and thrive. Speed of decision making, and execution, are key.”

“So, why the focus on resilience now? Because tech innovation has come to the scene. With that comes risk and opportunity. We’ve seen a change in behavior (e.g instant access, instant results, change in expectations etc). Keeping pace from a people point of view (e.g. skills gaps, skills relevance etc), how are we dealing with this? There is a changing environment (cyber incidents, interconnectedness etc). There is also the issue of system complexity (data management, third parties, cross border dependencies etc). So, anticipate, withstand, respond and recover.”

“Accelerated decision making, breaking down silos, understanding and reinventing core processes and redeploying talent is part of agility,” added Van Der Colff.

So, what should future business models do? Mellony Ramalho, Sales and Marketing Director LexisNexis South Africa said, “Get the balancing act right. Enhanced digital capabilities are key for the future.”

The next decade

With an interesting road ahead, following Justice Malala and Eusebius McKaiser’s insights of South Africa’s political landscape, the 2021 local government elections, corruption, governance and the overall political risk, Gillian le Cordeur, IRMSA CEO, wrapped up Day 1 of #IRMSAConf2020 and reflected on some of the highlights of the day, and some of the initiatives IRMSA is participating in October with FoodForward SA. 

Writer’s Thoughts
As mentioned above, we need to be influencers and leaders in our organisations, to survive, thrive and be resilient. Have you thought of the next 10 years and if your models are suitable? More importantly, are you prepared for the next 10 years and the next black swan event? Please comment below, interact with us on Twitter at @fanews_online or email me your thoughts [email protected].

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