Ellen Appiah CIOR

Operational Risk Manager

ABN AMRO Bank, The Netherlands

We talk to students/members about their experiences of studying the Certificate in Operational Risk Management (CORM).

How did you get your job?

I started my professional career with the big 4 accountancy firms initially wanting to become a Certified Public Accountant. A few years in, I realised that my strength was in advising businesses in optimising their risk and control frameworks. So I decided to switch from audit to risk management. I applied for a job opening within ABN AMRO bank for the position of Operational Risk & Control Specialist and was offered the job. For the past 6 years I have been working within operational risk management. In my role as Operational Risk Manager, I focus on both the methodology of operational risk as well as the management of operational risk.

What’s a typical day like as an Operational Risk Manager?

I typically engage in various risk assessments such as risk control self-assessments, change risk assessments and control framework enhancement, where I coordinate and/or provide expertise in workshops. Guiding the 1LoD business in the assessments and engaging with them to gain a thorough understanding of prevailing operational/non-financial risks. Furthermore, I provide training on the fundamental concepts of operational/non-financial risks for new to bank employees.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

It’s diverse, challenging and require you to engage and think along with your (business) stakeholders. A working day is never the same. It’s dynamic and involves liaising with various stakeholders which keeps me sharp in the work that I do.

What are the challenges?

Getting all the stakeholders on board, whether that is other 2LoD risk colleagues, first line business or interacting with audit. It’s a balancing act to engage with so many stakeholders and also getting your message across.

What would you say to others thinking about taking CORM?

I would highly recommend it. It’s a solid training program that covers the fundamentals of operational risk in a non-complex way.

What have you been able to put into practice in your job as a result of what you have learnt?

In my role I provide training sessions. Time and again I reach out to the CORM handbook to prepare for the training that I provide. Due to the Covid pandemic, my training is provided online so I had to transition from in-person training to online sessions.

The pandemic has really shown my organisations resilience and how non-financial risks such as pandemics are part of our climate.

My great win is that I can demonstrate my operational risk proficiency and promote the need of having solid fundamental knowledge.

How do I get into/work as a/become an Operational Risk Manager?

  • As (starting a new) Operational Risk Manager, I’d advise you to first of all understand the context that you are working in.
  • Understand the business environment that you are working for. E.g. what are the business objectives, have a forward-looking perspective.
  • See yourself as an adviser, with an independent and fresh view on matters.
  • Don’t be afraid to challenge and be critical in a constructive manner to really be effective.

Find out more about the Certificate in Operational Risk here

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