Risk Management Executive Advisor Forum

Irrespective of orientation or approach, risk cannot be ignored – and furthermore, seems to be of increasing concern to people from a variety of backgrounds. Fittingly, a diverse set of leaders recently came together in Canberra to host the QUT Graduate School of Business Executive Advisor Forum to discuss the management of risk in the world of innovation eco-systems. Moderated by Dr Richard Barber, associates from both current cohorts, alumni from all previous cohorts and representatives from industry, the evening featured a lively discussion around the systemic nature of risk.

The panel of Executive Advisors from the Executive MBA program included Rob Stefanic (Parliamentary Services), Andrew Balmaks (Noetic Group), Bruce Armstrong (Aspen Medical) and Michael Mahy (Synergy Group).

Commencing with a lively discussion around reputational risk, the focus quickly moved towards addressing the materiality of risk and the need to broadly appreciate the fundamental business and operational impacts of identified risks. From internal and external risks to strategic and operational risks, the necessity to mature and integrate our approach to the management of risk then formed the framework for a broader set of questions and answers.

Drawing on the range of backgrounds present, the tension between uncertainty, existential risk and the need for greater awareness linked to the theme of emergence within a systems view of innovation and organisation. Whilst acknowledging the role of systematic categorisation and risk planning, the very human activity of appreciation and awareness formed a basis for the view that framed emergent risk as the critical focus of effective risk management. The unknown unknowns that emerge from within the dynamic of inter-related and inter-connected people, processes and systems were universally acknowledged as the key to a mature approach to risk.

The panellists were able to draw upon their rich experience and provide a variety of anecdotes to support the discussion and stimulate questions that were deftly woven into a fluid conversation that embedded the management of risk as an essentially human process that is deeply influenced by language and prevailing organisational norms.


Associate Professor John Bensley is the Canberra Director of QUT Graduate School of Business and QUTeX. He has expertise in systems thinking, the management of innovation, product management and analytical psychology. John works with other University academics, Graduate School staff and industry professionals, to design, develop and deliver transdisciplinary education programs that meet the specific requirements of post-graduate students as well as a range of corporate and government clients. With more than 30 years management, marketing and operational experience from the mining and telecommunication industries his passion is understanding the determining effect of the human equation within organisations and helping people sense-make in complex environments.

1 Comment

  1. avatar
    John Neilson Reply

    It is often said that in a commercial sense that risk and reward are correlated and it is not always that higher risk gives higher reward!
    If risk is not mitigated the possibility of low reward becomes a definite probability. So in businesses how much is a manager is willing to lose in return for a better outcome is a calculation of preference. That is the bases are covered.

    In a classical sense risk can easily be stratified into a matrix probability of adverse outcome versus degree of adverse outcome. It does not take a rocket scientist to foresee a grading of adverse outcomes that includes poor, bad and catastrophic. Of course the subjectiveness of the author will bias the matrix depending on their risk aversion. The flawed methodology however still has a place as it is widely applicable and in particular to marketing consumer goods. E.g segmentation of the market and undisclosed consumer preferences does carry a risk in that market research can be bungled. Polling a statistical cross section of a community can lead to error and should be view much more critically than it often is.
    The golden rule is that a manager can only mitigate risk if market research is high quality and product/service development is ongoing and highly developed with a lot of investment no matter how disruptive the technology or service. Uber is an example of disruptive technology intrenched in the supply chain of a service. The risk management should have been carried out such that bad publicity was planed for! Essentially we have witnessed poor controls on product offering leading to crimes committed. External controls will be implemented by government to an industry that did not adequately have self regulation!

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