‘Roadmap to Strategic Risk Management’ two-day seminar focuses on critical function of risk profession in supporting decision making at C-suite level

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Brussels, 18 October 2023 

The 12th FERMA Seminar on Risk Management – ‘The Roadmap to Strategic Risk Management’ – concluded yesterday with a call to risk managers to continue to demonstrate the vital role they play in enabling the risk-based decision-making critical to the ongoing sustainability and competitiveness of corporations.

The two-day educational event hosted by FERMA in Antwerp, Belgium provided a platform for over 320 delegates from the risk profession across Europe to explore some of the current and future challenges and opportunities for the sector. The seminar included CEO and CRO panel sessions, as well as a series of workshops targeting key aspects of the theme for the event.

In his opening address, Dirk Wegener, who handed over the Presidency of FERMA to Charlotte Hedemark at the seminar, said: “Risk management must be seen as a value-adding function which extends beyond the management of operational risks and engages directly with the C-suite to support the broader strategic ambitions of the organisation. Risk managers can and should play a lead role in facilitating sustainable corporate performance and boosting overall competitiveness.”

The event provided incoming President Charlotte Hedemark with a platform to highlight FERMA’s priorities for 2024 and 2025 across the areas of advocacy, leadership, and agility, and deliver the Federation’s new slogan – “CONNECT, INFLUENCE, EMPOWER”.

Focusing on how FERMA will work more closely with experts from multiple sectors to enhance strategic insight on emerging risks, she said: “We will use these perspectives in our activities spanning our surveys, thought leadership and positioning papers. In addition, we’ll promote a new vision for global risk management at our events. With FERMA’s position as a risk leader we will make the most of education and training opportunities to continue to elevate the standing of the profession – and attract new talent.”

The seminar included a CEO panel discussion with Pascal Juery, CEO at Agfa, and François Michel, CEO at John Cockerill during which the panellists provided the insights into how risk management feeds into the strategic decision-making process.

Speaking at the Seminar on the criticality of the risk management perspective in strategic decision making, Juery said: “Risk management is an integral part of all the strategic decisions that are made at Agfa. Not only do we see this as vital to ensuring our organisational resilience, but also to future-proofing our operations which is the primary objective for me.” He added that the goal for the risk manager in his view is to “become a strategic partner helping us integrate risk management into the overall strategic planning of the company.”

Commenting on how risk management is integrated into decision making at John Cockerill and how the function has evolved within the organisation, Michel said: “The greater the volatility of the risks that we see, the more stability in the process, maturity of approach, and quality of judgement I expect to receive from the risk management function. This is what we have in place at John Cockerill, and what we have invested a lot of time in to develop.”

Drawing the event to a close, Laurence Eeckman, a FERMA Board member, chair of the FERMA seminar and Vice President of Group Risk Management at Atlas Copco, said: “CROs have become the go-to-people within their organisations as they bring added value to their boards and CEOs in risk -based decision making. But even in very mature organisations there are still challenges.”

Addressing some of the critical questions tackled during the seminar, she drew out one question central to the event’s theme, asking: “How do we instil the risk governance and culture which are key enablers for us to play our part in the strategic decision-making, growth ambitions, and overall competitiveness of our companies?”

She concluded: “I hope that you will now go back to your organisations with a lot of energy and a head full of new ideas, but also a good network through which to share tips and best practice.”

FERMA invited delegates to continue the discussion at the FERMA Forum 2024. Launching the theme for the event – “Join the Risk Revolution” – it announced the forum will take place on 20-22 October 2024 in Madrid, Spain. Stating that risk management is at a critical turning point, the event will provide an opportunity to explore evolving risk ecosystems and enhance vital knowledge and skills.

FERMA, Europe, Risk Management, Dirk Wegener, Charlotte Hedemark, Pascal Juery, François Michel, Laurence Eeckman, FERMA Forum