The initiative

After our covid-19 series of webinars, we started to gather short written testimonials of leading risk managers. The objective is to share their experience to strenghten the network of our European Risk Management Community.

Franck Baron, President of PARIMA (Risk Managers Community in Asia Pacific) and Group Deputy Director Risk Management & Insurance at International SOS

franck baron ferma covid-19How did you manage the Covid-19 crisis in your sector?

The focal point for International SOS during this crisis was to secure operational continuity while ensuring a safe environment to our colleagues. We immediately triggered our tested BCPs that include work-from-home, robust and tested technologies and ability to adapt to various sanitary situations in each country.  

How are you preparing your immediate challenges and opportunities in order to get your organisation’s business quickly back on track ?

It all boils down to fast decision-making and risk agility. The ability of our executive management to do risk-based arbitrage and decision-making has been paramount to ensure a successful return to operations/business planning.

What will risk management look like post Covid-19? How should risk professionals build on this renewed awareness so they can increase their board-level visibility and strategic role within the business?

Things have changed and this should imply a full reset of the Risk Governance for C-suite, Executive Committees and Boards. Strategic risk management and a holistic scanning of risks should be a fundamental pillar to their operational and strategic thinking as well as to their decision-making. Risk management has been too much focused-on process and compliance at the expense of risk agility and business reality. As highlighted by the PARIMA Risk Competency Framework, The profile of risk professionals must be based on their ability to support entrepreneurial thinking coupled with organizational resilience (including low-frequency/high severity risk scenario), enhanced risk agility (adapting quickly to a new risk landscape) and support to concrete risk strategy actions (Business Continuity Planning, Disaster Recovery, Crisis management).

Gaetan Lefèvre, Group Risk, Insurance & Ethics Manager at John Cockerill Group, FERMA Board Member and VP of BELRIM (Belgian risk management association) 

How did you manage the Covid-19 crisis in your sector?

As coordinator of the crisis committee at the Group level, I was involved very early at the end of January. Indeed, our Chinese companies were impacted and finally we never stopped to follow the crisis. As the majority of our employees are located in Belgium and in France, the high impact was mid-March with the lockdown in the two countries. With the evolution of the situation in the different countries, the crisis committee was split into two teams: the core team (HR, EHS, ICT/Supply, Communication and Risk Management) and an extended team with representative of each activity sector. We followed closely the sanitary situation and the impact to our employees. Other work groups (in Belgium and in France) were dedicated to the economic impact and to minimize it.  Finally, we prepared the sanitary conditions to come back in our offices step by step. We continue to have crisis meetings twice a week.

How are you preparing your immediate challenges and opportunities in order to get your organisation’s business quickly back on track ?

The crisis committee developed a guide to sanitary instructions in order to come back into our offices. It is important to note that we never closed completely our offices and sites, maintaining a minimum of activities.

The working groups focused on the restart of activities with an emphasis on cash and new orders. Where it is possible, we  use the Covid-19 temporary unemployment regime in order to minimize the impact. The way to come back to previous situation will be long and difficult.

What will risk management look like post Covid-19? How should risk professionals build on this renewed awareness so they can increase their board-level visibility and strategic role within the business?

Definitively, the Risk Manager plays its role to support the C-suite. Being part of the crisis committee gives visibility to the function, not only at the level of the Executive Committee but also across the organisation.

The crisis was not limited in time and that means that the daily work was completely different. Now there is a balance between the crisis management related tasks and the usual objectives. There will be a before and an after Covid-19.

Click here to access our Covid-19 Information Hub