Interview with William Sanders on The Risk Leadership Network

Risk Leadership Network

The Risk Leadership Network is the brainchild of Sydney-based William Sanders and his UK-based business partner Tim Whitehouse. It’s backed by an international media company and already has a significant number of large corporate members across Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East.

VirtueSpark caught up with William the day after the official launch of the Risk Leadership Network in April and asked him to expand on the network’s purpose and function.

Taking nearly two years of hard work to establish, we asked him why he felt there was a need for such a platform.

William: I’ve worked in the risk management community for over 15 years and I’ve been very fortunate to have built-up a very large global network of senior risk managers in my own kind of personal network. You can’t learn risk management from a book. It is something that you learn by doing it and from the experiences of others.

I’ve questioned people about how they go about sharing and collaborating, and I’ve often found that they did very little because they were focused on doing a very busy job. And if they had a network it tended to be very sector-focused and quite small. So what I saw was an opportunity to make collaboration and knowledge sharing much easier for risk managers by creating a neutral platform to bring people together from different sectors and different countries to learn from each other.”

Virtuespark: Isn’t this just another talking shop?

William: It’s a good point and look, I can fully understand the question. There are a lot of talk shops on the internet but for risk managers one of the main opportunities to collaborate is at conferences. The traditional model would have been to hop on a plane, deliver 100 people to a conference that did not come around very often, and with topics that tended to be very broad in order to attract a large audience. What we are doing is to flip that on its head. It’s about bringing small groups of people together, who have a common interest, to look at something that is very specific, topical and relevant to them.”

VirtueSpark: How does that work on a practical level?

William: Our members will come to us with very specific issues that they want to discuss. We have a global network of risk managers that we can call on and we can set up a bespoke virtual meetings and conference calls for a small group of experts to share experience and to work through the issue. As a pre-launch activity, we set-up a COVID-19 working group about two months ago. Within that group people have been exchanging their ideas and approaches to such things as return-to-site strategies.

VirtueSpark: What are the main service areas that the network provides?

William: There are three main areas.

Facilitated virtual meetings and conference calls – these take place regularly and bring together Members to share on a common issue they face or a project they are working on.  For example, a Member might contact our network management team looking for advice on how to better operationalize risk appetite. We will reach out to our global network and bring together a group of risk managers to share their insights, lessons-learned, tips and tricks on this issue.  Afterwards the key outputs of the discussion are summarized by our content team and shared back with all our Members so everyone can benefit from the insights.

Private messaging groups – we’re setting out to make it easier for our Members to connect with each other and one way we do this is through our private messaging groups.  These give risk managers instant access to their peers and, unlike public online groups, are a place where peers openly share practical insights. 

Intelligence – our intelligence platform is a searchable and customizable database of peer-contributed risk management content, tools and templates. Every week Members and other risk managers contribute insights into projects they’ve been working on, sharing the steps they took and the lessons learned.  Members will often share tools and templates they have developed. Equipped with the why, how and what, members can more effectively apply the learnings in their organization.

VirtueSpark: How would you sum-up what you’re all about?

William: At the Risk Leadership Network, our mission is to make collaboration and knowledge-sharing easy, accessible and applicable. Our online platform provides deep-dive content, real-life case studies, and risk management tools and templates. It also hosts regular virtual meetings and facilitates practical networking opportunities – both digitally and face-to-face. We’re looking for companies that share a common commitment to advancing risk management standards to join us and our founding members. Working together as a global community, we can raise the standing and maturity of risk management. 

More information on membership and services are available on the website: