Expert Interview – Andrea Bonime-Blanc
A shared philosophy
Our friend Andrea Bonime-Blanc was available for an interview on her new book “Gloom to Boom”.
Dr. Andrea Bonime-Blanc, author of the new book “Gloom to Boom” and Founder & CEO of GEC Risk Advisory, a global governance, risk, ethics and cyber advisory firm, is no stranger to Basel, Switzerland, home to VirtueSpark, the provider of the enterprise platform for integrated risk management.
As an internationally recognized expert, she has twice been a guest speaker at the Risk-in conference in Basel, the first independent European event dedicated to enterprise risk management professionals.
And, it was there that she met VirtueSpark’s Managing Director Pascal Busch. They discovered that they shared a similar belief that taking risks without knowledge or preparation can lead to organizational crisis, scandal and value destruction. Conversely, for those who are prepared, resilience follows and so does the ability to transform Environmental, Social, Governance and Technological (ESGT) risk into opportunity and value for stakeholders.
In a follow-up question and answer interview with VirtueSpark, Andrea sets out below her thoughts on ESGT risk and the thinking behind the book.
VS: Your key message is to turn risks into opportunities and value. In many organizations we still see that risk management is driven by compliance and not considered as a managerial instrument – how is it possible to bridge that gap?
The problem is that many organizations don’t even have basic risk management. To transform risk into opportunity and value for stakeholders, organizations must have at least basic risk management and their leaders need to know their company’s risks and have a systematic approach to understanding and mitigating them. In addition, executive management needs to be engaged in strategic risk management and company boards must exercise proactive strategic risk governance. It is only when these various strands and activities align that a proper transformation of risk into opportunity and value can take place.
VS: Can you give an example that may be relevant to most companies?
I think all companies can understand how lessons learned from mistakes can lead to process improvements and even value creation. For example, a company that has a robust and proactive risk management process that includes deep dive root cause analysis of risks gone wrong and then learns from those root causes by applying process improvements understands that if those improvements are properly implemented into products or services that such a virtuous cycle can create good reputation and competitive advantage. The Boeing 737 Max scandal is an unfolding example of what not to do. The way Unilever has approached the creation of more sustainable products is an example of what to do.
VS: Who is the book targeted towards?
Gloom to Boom is a book for everyone – from the highest levels of leadership in an organization (the board, CEO and C-Suite), to other senior leaders (the chief risk officer, CFO, general counsel, head of CSR and sustainability, CISO, CHRO), and midlevel leaders, students and folks simply interested in current affairs and the role and impact of strategic risk and opportunity on their lives. The point of the book is to engage people across the spectrum on thinking about risk as an opportunity for value creation for stakeholders. This can happen at every stage of life, in every sector and in every type of organization – from nonprofits and business to universities and government.
WIN A SIGNED COPY OF GLOOM TO BOOM
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VS: You expand the well-known ESG factors (environmental, social and governance) to ESGT by adding the technological dimension – why is that important?
We’re living through the most massive tectonic technological changes the world has ever seen – I don’t think that’s a controversial or incorrect statement to make. All of us – both in our private lives and in our business, government, research or nonprofit roles – can barely keep up with how technology is changing everything in our lives at every level, every day. If organizations are not taking technology issues – the good, the bad and the ugly – into account in their issue spotting and risk and opportunity management, they are not only hiding their heads in the sand from a risk management standpoint – they are losing amazing opportunities at new value creation and thereby leaving money and/or other value on the table. That’s why in my book Gloom to Boom, I make the case that companies and other entities must take an expanded approach that goes beyond understanding their ESG issues to understanding the deep impact and interconnectedness of a broader, more inclusive ESG + Technology or ESGT approach.
VS: To empower employees and gain value across the enterprise you have to understand the relations between risks and opportunities across all the organizational levels. This can become quite complex. How can this be solved and what does a company need to do to transform their risk management approach to achieve more value?
Clearly in this more complex, interconnected and rapidly changing world, it is critically important for companies and organizations to up their game and create the best possible combined qualitative and technological approach to risk and opportunity collaboration, identification and management. This means, at the end of the day, that cross-disciplinary teams work closely together and deploy the appropriate technological tools to address and conquer the transformation of risk into opportunity.