What Skills Do You Need To Get into Risk Management?

As a risk manager, you’re not just crunching numbers – you need to understand and work with every different department in a company, building relationships as you go. So what specific skills does it take to be a good risk manager?

What skills do you need to get into Risk Management… and how can you demonstrate them during the application process?

1. Problem solving

Risk management is a strategic business. At the higher levels, you may be designing risk management solutions and processes for an entire organisation. You’ll need to be both thorough and creative in your approach.

Gathering examples

You solve problems all the time in your everyday life. Think about times when you’ve hit a snag – maybe a funding shortfall for a trip or a member of a project group who called in sick at the last minute. What did you do to fix it?

The more you try to do, the more problems you’ll run across! Get involved in anything where you have to take on responsibility. Problem-solving examples are guaranteed.

During the application process

If you’re given tasks or problems to solve at interview, think carefully, take your time and be creative.

If it helps, talk through your thought processes. You interviewer will want to know how you approach the problem.

2. Analytical skills

The cornerstone of risk management is analysing risks, calculating their potential effects and balancing them against the company’s overall risk appetite.

Gathering examples

If you’re a business student, social scientist or statistician you should have experience analysing statistical data. Look back on challenging assignments and describe how you succeeded.

Analysis doesn’t have to include numbers. Any essay where you analyse the evidence to choose and support a conclusion is a valid example.

Volunteer for tasks where a decision needs to be made based on evidence – for example, choosing a venue for an event based on factors like location, suitability and price. 

During the application process

You may need to do online tests to demonstrate your analytical skills. Find sample tests online and in careers advice books to help you understand the types of question you might face.

During any task, listen carefully to the questions and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.

3. Communication

Part of risk management is making sure everyone understands any significant risks and the company’s risk management strategy. This means communicating with all different audiences, from the board of directors to individual employees.

Gathering examples

Telephone jobs, such as calling alumni for donations or volunteering for a peer support line, develop your verbal communication skills and grow your confidence. 

Join a debating society, a student council or even an improv group.

Join a student magazine or take responsibility for a society website. Successfully advertising an event online is a great example of your written skills.

During the application process

Don’t rush your application questions. Make sure your answers are clear and well-structured. The same goes for your CV. Use the STAR method – Situation, Task, Activity, Result.

In your interview, speak clearly and confidently and connect with your interviewer through open, relaxed body language and eye contact.

4. Business understanding

To identify and estimate the risks to a company, you have to understand how the business works and all the different internal and external factors that can affect its performance.

Gathering examples

If you’re helping to organise an event, try to take some responsibility for the budgeting and the risk assessment.

During part-time work or volunteering, think about how you could make improvements to the organisation’s activities or processes. Suggest them to your manager – this also demonstrates your communication and diplomacy.

During the application process

Do in-depth research into the company and its competitors, suppliers and customers. You also need to know the history of the industry, how it has changed and the challenges companies face.

5. Negotiation and diplomacy

It’s never as simple as just creating a risk management policy. You have to negotiate with other departments to decide what’s possible, convince staff to be risk-aware, liaise with auditors and justify yourself to your bosses. Part of your job is to be convincing.

Gathering examples

You don’t necessarily need work-based examples. Diplomacy and negotiation crop up any time people are together in a group – perhaps working on a project or sharing a house.

Whenever you come across a conflict, note down how you dealt with it and how things turned out. You’ll soon have more examples than you know what to do with.

During the application process

Be polite and friendly to everyone you meet, including reception staff and assistants.

Part of diplomacy is coming across as calm, trustworthy and cool in a crisis. If you’re nervous at your interview, smile and fake it till you make it.

6. Numeracy

Risk analysis involves a lot of numbers – costs, estimated risks, probabilities and so on – and while you don’t need to be a mathematician, you do need to be comfortable and confident with calculations. 

Gathering examples

Luckily, you use numeracy all the time in daily life. For students, the big one is budgeting food, rent and bills, especially if these are split with other housemates.

You can also volunteer as a treasurer of a club or society.

During the application process

Don’t be afraid to use prosaic examples on your CV or at interview. If you can explain your successful budgeting techniques, that’s plenty.

If you’re faced with a numerical question, take a deep breath and think through how to approach it before you dive in.

7. Working under pressure

Risks can change in an instant when something unexpected occurs and you need to be able to update your strategies and react at a moment’s notice. If things go wrong, your business continuity plans need to save the day.

Gathering examples

Pressure often comes from the unpredictable. Try to find a volunteer opportunity such as advice line work or working with children, when the unpredictable may happen at any time.

Everyone has times when they think, “Why did I do this to myself?”. Keep track of those times. If you agreed to play in a charity concert during your exam period, why was it worthwhile to put yourself under that much pressure?

During the application process

Obviously, stay as calm as you can and don’t get flustered by unexpected questions. You’re allowed to stop and think before you give your answer.

Part of working well under pressure is knowing how to avoid extra pressure. If you get your application in well before the deadline, you’re demonstrating that you can keep your cool during a stressful application process and not let things spiral out of control.

And finally…

If risk management is an area that interests you, start researching the roles early. Some require specific technical skills so you need to plan ahead.

Apply now for roles in Risk Management