Take a chance on a career in risk management

Jemma Smith, Editor
May, 2016

Risk occurs in all areas of day-to-day life but its effective management is increasingly important in the complex, fast-paced world of business

Every industry in both the public and private sector is affected by risk to some degree resulting in a constant need for educated risk graduates.

'Risk management involves understanding, analysing and addressing risk to make sure organisations achieve their objectives,' explains Victoria Robinson, head of communications at the Institute of Risk Management (IRM).

Today's risks can include everything from customer relation and cyber security to terrorism and natural disasters. In order for organisations to remain competitive they need to have successful management strategies in place, and that's where you come in.

A good risk manager reduces the negative impact of these risks while maximising their potential.

Graduates who have knowledge of business risk have the scope to work in any industry at any level of an organisation

Reasons to choose risk management

If you have an undergraduate degree in a business, accounting or finance-related subject but you're unsure which direction to take why not consider a postgraduate qualification in risk management? It's a growing profession which offers impressive graduate opportunities, however this isn't the only attraction.

'An organisations success, in fact its survival, is highly dependent on understanding and effectively implementing a risk management programme,' says Dr Kaushik. V. Pandya, MSc Risk Management course leader at Sheffield Hallam University.

As a risk manager you will be an expert in your field and will have the chance to become a pivotal player within your organisation. Business managers rarely make a move on new business ventures, the development of new projects or mergers and acquisitions without first assessing the risk involved.

'Risk management is a developing and challenging profession that is here to stay. The discipline is highly relevant to business success in all sectors of industry and commerce across the globe,' adds Victoria.

Postgraduate options

Due to its growing nature the industry is competitive and according to Victoria the most attractive candidates are qualified, ideally to degree level. To boost your chances of finding a job you need to stand out to employers and that's where a Masters qualification comes in really useful. A postgraduate qualification not only expands your subject and industry knowledge, it also proves your commitment to the profession and provides great networking opportunities.

A number of universities offer Masters degrees in risk management; an example of such a programme is the MSc Risk Management at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) London.

'The curriculum focuses on the holistic management of risk,' says Dr Madhu Acharyya, lecturer and programme leader. 'It balances the qualitative and quantitative perspectives of risk and prepares students to understand the theoretical and practical issues of risk management, which are significant in modern business.'

The programme teaches core modules including enterprise risk and modelling, global perspectives on risk, risk financing and insurance and crisis and business continuity management. Students will learn through a series of guest lectures, study tours and conferences in the City of London.

Another option is the one year MSc Risk Management at Sheffield Hallam University. You will study modules such as total risk management, electronic crime, corporate governance and ethics and financial risk management. Aimed at recent graduates and working professionals you will be assessed through a mixture of coursework, exams and a dissertation.

'The MSc aims to create graduates who are well versed in holistic principles and who have the potential to become business professionals with a high degree of academic credibility. Graduates will be able to fill the skills gap in risk management and contribute to the development of this unique discipline,' says Dr Pandya.

Search for postgraduate courses in risk management.

Developing your skillset

In order to build a successful career you will need to spend time developing sought-after skills such as commercial awareness, attention to detail, planning and organisation, problem solving and decision making and your ability to negotiate.

'Graduates need to understand the business model of the industry that they are interested in,' advises Dr Acharyya so before applying for jobs you will need to carry out some detailed research. 'A good risk manager encounters risk from both the downside (danger) and the upside (opportunity) perspectives.'

While technical skills are important Victoria also recommends working on soft skills such as communication, relationship building, analytical and general-management as these all play a part in risk management roles.

Another great way to develop your skills upon starting your career in risk is to undertake the qualifications on offer via the IRM. These are designed to develop your knowledge of, and skills in, risk management and include the:

  • International Certificate in Risk Management;
  • International Diploma in Risk Management;
  • Certificate in Risk Management in Financial Services.

Finding a job

As risk is present in every aspect of business and because risk managers are key to an organisations success skilled graduates are highly sought after.

'Graduates who have knowledge of business risk have the scope to work in any industry at any level of an organisation,' explains Dr Acharyya.

The most obvious choice is to work in finance but roles also exist in the business, energy, transport and charity sectors.

LinkedIn is a good resource for finding vacancies and there are also specialist recruitment agencies available such as:

When looking for roles Victoria and Dr Acharyya advise you to look out for job titles such as:

  • business continuity manager;
  • corporate risk manager;
  • information security risk analyst;
  • health and safety risk manager;
  • operational risk analyst;
  • risk analyst.

With enough experience you could one day progress to chief risk officer.