Risk in focus: Michaela Prottengeier

The Institute of Risk Management (IRM) speaks to Michaela Prottengeier, Senior Commercial Manager, Urenco Limited.

How did you get your job?

Rather ironically, I got into Risk Management by accident!

My degree was in Marketing & Communications and initially I was going to pursue a career in advertising. I met a head hunter who was recruiting for a major American investment bank and asked me to join their Risk graduate training program. Once I did the research and found out that this was an up and coming area within banking, I wanted to be part of that journey.

What’s a typical day like as a Senior Commercial Risk Manager?

Each day is different, bringing new challenges with it. Being flexible and managing priorities is key to achieving my goals. I spend most of my day communicating across the organisation with different stakeholders, external advisors and my team to ensure priorities are met. The reaming time I work with colleagues to build an appropriate risk culture across the organisation.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Having been in the field of risk management for over 20 years, I am obviously experienced. But one of the aspects of the risk world is that there is so much more to learn and it is ever evolving. The practices of risk management have changed over the years significantly. In recent years it has gained momentum to become a more dynamic, appropriate and relevant space. I am currently studying for the Diploma in Enterprise Risk Management where I look forward to deepening my theoretical knowledge while looking to apply some the newly learnt material at Urenco.

What are the challenges?

Managing people, their understanding of risk and expectations are key challenges of my role as a Senior Commercial Risk Manager. Risk can be seen as a hindrance, a box ticking exercise. However, great Risk Management supports commercial activities, helping to achieve business targets while managing the risk appropriately.

So, I see my role partly as an educator, a facilitator, an enabler and an enforcer. I achieve this by:

  • Creating a common Risk Culture across the organisation through the use of common Risk language.
  • Helping bring various stakeholders together to have a meaningful Risk discussion through workshops, brainstorming sessions and one to ones.
  • Creating an appropriate Risk Appetite and Risk Management Framework that empowers decision making across the organisation supported by solid processes and procedures.
  • Monitoring, reporting and escalating risks in accordance with our governance structure.

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

When I worked in investment banking, I specialised in Credit Risk Management. At Urenco my role covers Risk Management of the Commercial space, including Market, Compliance and Credit risks. By studying and gaining experience, I am preparing to take on the Head of Risk role in the future.

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

The course has provided me with theoretical concepts and examples of application of different Risk Management tools and techniques across various sectors globally. Armed with this knowledge I am able to use tools such as the Risk Bow tie to incorporate in my daily the decision-making process. Additionally, I have built a network of like-minded Risk Professionals across different disciplines and in a range of industries as well as have access to Specialist Interest Groups and Training session.

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

There are a couple of considerations to make before signing up to any professional qualification. Ask yourself: why IRM and why now. If you are able to answer these confidently, then make sure you understand the time commitment necessary to complete the course successfully. There is a lot of information to digest. I made a commitment to the course and was well-rewarded. It has helped me to do a better job by incorporating key concepts and institutionalising this knowledge into Urenco.

Top tips:

We are Risk Managers. In our day-to-day lives, we all make risk decisions daily. You may just not be aware of it. So, you are half way there already to becoming a risk manager. However, what do you need in order to be a great Risk Manager that facilitates and fosters strong Risk Management across an organisation? My answer to that would be:

Tenacity – a Risk Manager always has to question why and how. And it is an ever-evolving process.

  1. Attention to detail – the devil really is in the detail
  2. Clear communication at all levels – facilitating great conversations across the organisation is key.