Risk Manager, Laura
What does your role entail?
I am the lead Risk Manager in the Strategic Enablers Domain Headquarters. I am responsible for the process involved with identifying, analysing, taking mitigation activities and monitoring of business and sub-strategic risks and opportunities that sit between the Delivery Teams and the Domains Director General. I ensure risks sit at the most appropriate level of the business for them to be managed. I am also involved with reporting of risk performance across the Domain, implementing new risk processes within the Domain and providing specialist advice regarding the Risk Management tool used by DE&S.
I like the fact that every day is different, one day you can be facilitating a risk identification workshop with 20 people and the next you are analysing the impact the mitigation activities are having on reducing the likelihood of a risk event occurring.
Why did you choose a career in risk management? Where did you begin?
After studying Mathematics at University, I started my career in Dstl as a scientist providing specialist advice to MoD procurement projects, running mathematical modelling projects and analysing Operational data from Theatre. After nine years in this role, my family moved to Bristol and I transferred into DE&S. Due to the project-based nature and subject matter of my previous scientific work, I was able to apply this experience to a role as a Project Manager in DE&S.
Four years ago, I was presented with an opportunity to become a Risk Manager and I jumped at the chance and haven’t looked back since! It is a varied, integral role in any team and is involved with all areas, from liaising with colleagues in Commercial and Engineering, to name a few, to then working with our Suppliers and Clients.
What different does your role make? Why is your role important? Who does your role impact?
Risk Management is critical to the success of a project delivering safe and effective equipment to time and cost parameters, to meet the needs of the Front-Line Commands. It identifies potential problems before they occur, so that risk mitigation activities can be planned and implemented.
Risk Management is intrinsic to all parts of the business, from delivering projects to strategic-level Board risks.
What are some of the most exciting projects you’ve worked on?
I have been very lucky to have had opportunities to work on some very exciting projects in DE&S; from Project Marshall (a project to upgrade and provide through-life support to the Air Traffic Management systems at all UK Military Air Bases across the world), to the in-service support of the Puma and Gazelle helicopters. One highlight was the opportunity to experience a training flight on a Puma helicopter flying through Central London.
More recently, I was the Risk Manager involved with the DE&S response to COVID-19. I was part of a team quickly put together from across DE&S to support the UK Ventilator Challenge.
What are your career aspirations? And how does DE&S support you?
I gained promotion through the DE&S Internal Promotions Scheme in 2019 and am currently developing and gaining experience in my current level. Five years ago, I never thought I would be a Risk Manger so I am quite open to what the next five years may bring. There are so many opportunities to progress in DE&S through levels and through a variety of roles. I have found experience gained in one area can always be applied to the next.
I am supported by my Delivery Manager and Functional Development Officer, who both make sure I have clear objectives and provide guidance on how I can develop further.
Why DE&S? What makes it a great place to work?
I have had the privilege of working on some fascinating projects with some incredible people where you can really make a difference. There is such a range of projects and areas to work within DE&S that you can always find something different.
I have a young family and work part-time; DE&S allows me to have a fantastic work/life balance, but still being able to feel valued and being offered the same opportunities. There is a variety of networks in DE&S and, as part of the Parents Network, I am part of a support group where I can obtain support and advice from others in a similar position to myself.
What pathways are there into a career as a Risk Manager? Is it a difficult career to get into?
Risk Management is everyone’s responsibility! We all do risk management every day without thinking about it, for example travelling to work you will be subconsciously thinking about all the problems that could occur to stop you arriving on time, and the actions you need to do to achieve this such as setting your alarm in the morning so you don’t oversleep, or allocating extra travel time in case of heavy traffic.
There is a wide variety of ways Risk Managers have come into the role; from starting out as a direct entry at Level 1 via the DE&S Apprenticeship or Graduate Schemes, to internal Z-path moves, to using transferable experience and skills from outside of DE&S. No matter where you start there is training and development available, and a thriving risk community who are happy to mentor and coach new staff.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start a career in your field at DE&S?
Excellent communication and people skills are paramount to being a good Risk Manager. You need to enjoy talking to a variety of people, adjusting your communication style as necessary dependent upon the audience, and not be afraid to ask lots of questions in order to really identify the risks to a project. You need to be resilient as others can be hesitant initially to raise problems with their projects, as no one likes to think that their project may fail, so you need to be able to make people feel at ease and get them to really think and articulate what risks could occur!