Risk in focus: Ashtar Matwani

The Institute of Risk Management (IRM) speaks to Ashtar Matwani, Enterprise Risk Management Specialist at ASYAD Group on what working in risk is really like and what hints and tips they’d share with people looking to move into the industry.

How did you get your job? 

I started my career as a young professional engineer in the rail industry, as part of a startup company that was tasked with jumpstarting the sector in Oman. Along with that came the challenges of uncertainty and the complexity of large projects, which sparked my interest in managing uncertainties, and posed the question of how to achieve the best possible outcome given what we know today.

I decided to build on that by pursuing a Master’s degree in Project and Enterprise Management from University College London. A course that was truly inspiring and ignited an interest in enterprise management. After completing my degree I was presented with an opportunity to work in Enterprise Risk Management at a logistics holding group comprising of 11 subsidiaries operating within the sector. With activities varying from shipping, drydocks, and public transportation, the experience of working in a group company managing risk meant great exposure, and honing my skills as a risk management specialist.

What’s a typical day like as an Enterprise Risk Management Specialist?

Risk management for the most part is a social job! I heavily interact with internal risk champions, heads of departments, as well as subsidiary risk officers. Reporting and presenting to senior management is also a staple in my job as I compile the Group’s principle risks and present my findings to the Executive Management and Audit Committee, and report on performance and quality of deliverables.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Working in risk management means that I always need to be ahead of the game, thinking forward, and bringing about immediate action when needed. The satisfaction of contributing positively to my company’s success is unparalleled.

What are the challenges?

As the implementation of risk management in the region is fairly new, there are some misconceptions related to its objectives and how it adds value to the organisation; so seeking commitment from all parties involved top-down and bottom-up, and establishing a risk-aware culture can be a cumbersome process that requires time to mature and evolve.

What made you decide to study the International Certificate in ERM?

While working on the job provided me excellent exposure firsthand on how to manage the implementation of an ERM initiative across a large group of companies, the IRM certification provided me with direction on further initiatives to enhance implementation, as well as helping me further solidify my standing as a risk management professional.

What has it taught you that you can immediately put into practice?   

The IRM qualification has helped me better align my practice at my current job with industry practices and international benchmarks.

What would you say to other people considering studying the qualification?

I see the IRM qualification as a stepping stone to furthering anyone’s career in risk management, and is also a brilliant opportunity to network with risk professionals from across the globe at the convenience of your home office!

Top tips:

I would advise those interested in pursuing a career in risk management to pay as much attention to developing their soft skills as they would their technical skills. A job in risk management means you should always be open and receptive to change, challenge what you think you know to be true, and be an assertive communicator who is able to get their message across, and gain their audience active support and participation. Buy-in is key!