Risk in focus: Linda Visser

The Institute of Risk Management (IRM) speaks to Linda Visser, IRMCert Coordinator Contractor Mobilisation Wessels Mine, South Africa 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?

My career path started in 2002 when I was introduced to Occupational Hygiene and Safety.

I was lucky to move around in the Health, Safety and Environmental legs of our HSE Department. My responsibilities ranged from Legal Document Control, Statistical Reporting, Managing Incident systems, Health and Hygiene inspections, Implementing new Incident reporting systems and training employees to use the Incident reporting system. Other responsibilities included collating information for monthly corporate reporting for HSE.

My current role is Coordinator Contractor Management. This includes the full verification of any on boarded contractor’s compliance related to site specific procedures and requirements as per our Mine Health and Safety Act. Risk Management plays a big part of my day to day responsibilities ranging from Issue Bases Risk Assessments to assessing the risk of planned work at the mine by a possible non-compliant contractor.

Included is the management of the ECMS (electronic contractor management system) which is a web based system where contractors upload document we require for Contractor Management compliance.

What’s a typical day like as a Coordinator Contractor Mobilisation?

Consultations with new contractor companies to complete their on boarding.

Consulting with on-boarded contractor companies regarding queries, compliance file issues and operational changes. Verification and approval of compliance documents on the Electronic Contractor Management System. Revoking access for non-compliant contractor companies and employees. Supporting and guiding Project, Maintenance and Engineering Teams regarding risk based decisions whether a contractor company is allowed to work on site and how to address the non-compliances.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

When a contractor company is fully compliant with their compliance file.

What are the challenges?

On-boarding a new company when they struggle to understand why they must comply with all our risk based requirements

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

I was looking to cement my years of experience (18 years in HSE which includes 7 in Contractor Management) with something which will incorporate the whole company’s risk profile. Contractor Management spans across a lot of different departments which in itself is a risk if not managed properly. The International Certificate in ERM was the perfect fit and the logical choice.

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

It might sound strange but it “taught” me a lot of confidence in myself, my work experience and that I can now have an informed discussion with any of our departments regarding their risk profile. What I have put into practice is the layered verification of all of our contractor’s Issue Based Risk Assessments.

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

This qualification definitely opens up your mind and way of thinking pertaining risk Management. It will give you the confidence to spearhead difficult conversations regarding risk and to put more practical risk management strategies in place.

Top tips:

> Getting into Risk Management will depend on the Industry you work in. Being a Risk Officer can be many things in the different industries. A Risk Officer in the mining operational sector will focus more on the applicable mining legislation while a Risk Officer for a telecommunication company will focus more on the organizational and customer risks. Do some research and discuss the opportunities with your line manager.

> Working as a Risk Officer can be very rewarding when you start seeing the results of the implemented risk mitigation measures. My advice is also to sharpen your people skills because from experience I know that people have a natural resistance to change and risk management involve change – change brings maturity.

> You need to do a lot of reading to become a well-informed Risk Officer and IRM is a treasure trove of global risk information.