Managing risks during the pandemic

Certified in international risk management, Liberty Life Namibia’s risk and compliance manager, Spencer Kazeundja, talks to Business7 about the new business landscape.

28 July 2021 | Business

All organisations need a cohesive team culture in place to achieve success.

B7: What is the most important lesson businesses should learn from the pandemic?

SK: The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us just how quickly our way of life can be transformed, considerably impacting businesses and global economies.

During this unprecedented time, we’ve seen disruptions impacting organisation of all sizes demonstrating how fragile we all are to a crisis. The world as we know it has changed, and organisations need to change along with it.

Detailed planning and groundwork across the organisation is paramount to ensuring your organisation can survive the very real threats of the pandemic.

B7: How does one achieve operational resilience with business continuity management in these times?

SK: Business continuity management or BCM is the cornerstone of a risk management platform.

The organisation’s ability to protect people, assets and business while ensuring continued service in the best interest of its customers in the event of a disruption is critical to its sustained financial success.

BCM gives organisations the ability to set up scalable solutions that evaluate operations and identify gaps to ensure resilience and provide the certainty that your organisation requires to recover quickly and efficiently through any business disruption.

All staff members must be aware of their individual responsibility towards building a BCM capability for the organisation and must incorporate this into their job deliverables.

A risk assessment and a business impact analyses must be completed for the organisation to determine how it will be impacted by the pandemic and which resources are required to recover.

B7: How does one cultivate a sound risk culture?

SK: Effective risk management starts with having a good team and stakeholder culture. All organisations need a cohesive team culture in place to achieve success.

The risk culture encompasses the tone at the top and a set of shared attitudes, values, behaviours and practices that characterise how individuals within the organisation consider risk in their day-to-day activities.

Organisations therefore need to drive a culture where every individual takes accountability within their area of responsibility for ensuring that business is done in the right way and that resources are managed responsibly.

B7: Working from home has become part of the new normal. How should organisations approach this development effectively?

SK: Focus on the people of your organisation by thinking about their needs and struggles working remotely or on the front line. Organisations need to understand that employees are likely feeling overwhelmed and anxious about circumstances related to the virus.

Working remotely can cause people to feel isolated, making it more important to routinely check in with your team - not only about their work, but also to see how they are doing.

B7: How can organisations successfully address cybersecurity concerns relating to remote working?

SK: Cybersecurity concerns have ramped up in the wake of the pandemic and the rapid transition to remote working setups further complicates security demands - with more employees using personal devices and networks to do their work and access organisation data.

As such, organisations need to approach their cybersecurity needs in a way that fully accounts for remote working. Organisations should encourage employees to step up their security measures when working from home, including taking the following actions:

· Continuously raise awareness and remind individuals of the dangers of cybersecurity;

· Demonstrate to staff how to identify and report phishing emails and other related threats;

· Protect organisation data by using strong passwords and encryption; and

· Continuously assess and test the robustness of the organisation’s cyber defences.

B7: How important is it to have a comprehensive understanding of the risks your organisation might be exposed to?

SK: Developing a robust understanding of the risks to which the organisation is exposed is crucial to ensure that all material risks are appropriately monitored, managed and reported on. Every individual within the organisation is responsible for understanding the risks associated with their role.

Organisations can develop an understanding of risks through the identification and assessment of risks to which they are exposed. These processes are performed as part of strategy setting, strategy execution and day-to-day operations and are referred to as risk and control self-assessments or RCSAs.

B7: Any concluding thoughts on how organisations should navigate stormy business waters?

SK: It is crucial for organisations to take learnings from previous incidents to ensure continuous improvement in the management of risk.

It is also critically important to note that risks can be leveraged as opportunities. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused organisations to move away from siloed thinking in terms of risk management. Moving forward, it is all about finding the opportunities in risks and expanding upon them to create a positive outcome for your organisation.

The challenge with any threat is that if you’re unprepared to face it, you are forced to react in the moment. Many organizations have found this to be the case when dealing with the fallout of Covid-19.

Take control now, while you can.

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