Getting a Job in Risk When You Don’t Work in Risk
It sometimes happens that people find themselves at a crossroads in their career and make the decision to apply their skillset elsewhere. The ease and mechanics of such a transition is of course dependent on the profession you have selected. If you are looking to make your career in risk without a background in risk, you should consider what you can bring to the role and how best to network and position yourself accordingly to get in front of the right people who may be able to help you attain a job in risk that fits your personality and expertise.
Daniel Ostermeyer, Former Director of Risk Advisory at Deloitte, advises candidates to consider what is attracting them to risk in particular. “If you’ve not worked in risk before, you need to have a pretty good personal case and evidence of behavioural skills that make you right for a career in risk,” he says.
Understanding why you want to make the move will likely bring you into contact with people currently working in risk, and Ostermeyer suggests making the most of those connections. Both for the obvious link of networking within the space you intend to transition into but also to gain an insight into it. Talking to people who work in risk or have worked in risk opens up a conversation that enables you to research the space and properly understand where you might fit, whether its risk management, risk analysis, risk advisory, project management or corporate governance. Furthermore, you can get a flavour for which type of risk you think you might enjoy working in, financial or non-financial risk.
Ostermeyer notes that a key trait of someone primed to a career in risk is one who is ready to delve into learning new things and open to new concepts. Though this is only one skill that hiring managers are looking for to fill jobs in risk. Risk management is a relatively technical discipline so there is an expectation that candidates should be able to demonstrate a solid understanding of applied mathematics, differential equations and financial modelling. Further though you should be able to tackle those within a wider real-world context, which is where the need for problem solving skills comes in.
Being able to convey complex issues to people elsewhere in the business is highly important and along with those strong communication skills, individuals wanting to move into risk management jobs should be able to digest and interpret information quickly and thoroughly.
In terms of the careers from which to transition into risk, the truth is so long as you have that genuine interest and the right skills you could in theory move from any number of industries. The most common moves tend to come from both audit and legal and tax backgrounds, with the former bringing an understanding of key accounting concepts and relevant business transactions, while the latter are skilled in applying themselves to detailed considerations and analysis which is an approach that cuts nicely across to risk strategy.
If you decide that the life of a risk professional is for you, and you have the raw materials to work with then as Ostermeyer suggests, explore your network both online via platforms like LinkedIn and in person so that you can begin the conversation with someone already working in risk in order to get your foot through the door.
There are plenty of opportunities for jobs in all areas of risk currently, so get your CV in order and take the leap. As for your academic history, at the least you’ll have a bachelor’s degree in anything from business administration, finance, economics or law and for those wanting to push a bit further, you could look at doing an MBA in one of the aforementioned subjects or the ever-popular cyber security given how critical that skillset is becoming to business risk management.