A Cool Job of the Future: Operational Risk Consultant

Our current environment of rising global uncertainty is spurring organizations’ interest in business continuity and operational risk management. As a result, the position of operational risk consultant appears likely to become one of the “cool jobs” of the future. 

A Period of Rising Turbulence

The pandemic might be tapering off, but the news from Ukraine and the latest UN report on the impact of climate change underscore the fact that we have entered a period of rising global turbulence.   

These and the various other changes I talk about frequently in the blog—such as the rise in cybercrime and the continuing supply chain crunch—have created a world where business is facing an unprecedented amount of risk and uncertainty. 

This situation is driving an increase in interest in all phases of business that relate to assessing and mitigating risks, weathering disruptions, and enhancing resilience. 

The Job of Operational Risk Consultant

Based on the trends described above, one highly interesting job that I think is likely to see a lot of growth in the future is that of operational risk consultant (sometimes called operational risk analyst, manager, or officer). A search for openings for this position on LinkedIn currently returns over 15,000 hits in the U.S.  

Operational risk, as I wrote in a previous blog, “is the possibility that things might go wrong as your organization goes about its business. It reflects the unavoidable fact that assets, processes, and people can fail.” 

Operational risk management (to quote that same post) is “the process of managing all elements that fall within the business operational responsibility,” including process and procedural robustness and integrity; people, skills, and training; insurance and self-insurance; the supply chain, outsourcing, and inherent risk; infrastructure, systems, and telecommunications; and physical and information security. 

What Makes this an Attractive Job  

What makes the job of an operational risk consultant interesting in my view is its uniquely broad horizon.  

The operational risk management (ORM) professional has to identify and assess risks across every front, ranging from workplace violence to the weather to cyberattacks to supply chain disruptions that might be caused if (to take just one example) geopolitical events compelled the retraction of business links to China similar to that which is currently happening with Russia. 

The position is similar to that of a free safety in football—or of a scout on an old-time wagon train. 

With such a wide breadth of concerns to worry about, the operational risk management consultant is unlikely to ever get bored. He or she is also unlikely to relax very much, at least while on the job, but fortunately some people like it that way.  

By the way, this is not a position for someone who wants to take it easy or stay in a box. An operational risk analyst needs to know something about everything. In my opinion, that’s one of the things that makes the job attractive. 

Four Tools Needed to Excel in this Role 

What does it take to succeed as an operational risk management consultant? Here are four needed items in the ORM professional’s toolkit: 

  1. A solid understanding of how the business works. This should cover all aspects from senior management to middle management to the people on the floor doing the job. Includes deep industry knowledge and understanding of what is critical and what’s not. 
  1. Good, foundational knowledge of technology. The person doesn’t have to be a tech guru, but they do need an understanding of the core components of technology and how they work. The ORM consultant should know what the critical systems of the business are. This is necessary to assess threats to technology and their potential impacts on the business.  
  1. Knowledge of risk-identification methodology. An operational risk management consultant needs to know how to identify and prioritize risks from the business and technology perspectives. Includes risks that reside in the neighborhood and those that might arise from across the globe.  
  1. Knowledge of how to mitigate risks. An ORM analyst needs to be well-versed in the four risk mitigation strategies (accepting, transferring, limiting, and avoiding risk) and know how to produce a mitigation plan. 

These four competencies—coupled with the ability to interact effectively with people at all levels of the organization and in every department—make up the main skills needed to excel as an operational risk management consultant. 

Navigating a Turbulent World 

The current trend of rising global instability is driving increased interest by organizations in areas such as business continuity and operational risk management that are designed to protect them against disruptions. In this environment, the position of operational risk consultant looks set to become one of the cool jobs of the future.  

The position of ORM consultant—with its emphasis on identifying, prioritizing, and mitigating risks to the organization—is unique in the breadth of its perspective and the wide knowledge and deep people skills required to perform it effectively. It is also unique in the contribution it can make toward helping the organization and its stakeholders successfully navigate our increasingly turbulent world. 

Further Reading

For more information on operational risk management and other hot topics in BCM and IT/disaster recovery, check out these recent posts from BCMMETRICS and MHA Consulting: 

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