Alastair Allison, Chief Risk Officer from Zurich Insurance Plc (UKGI) talks about his career in the military and transferring these experiences into a successful career in risk management.

He has taken his career forward with the Institute of Risk Management through both training and qualifications.

Learn how we can ease your transition into a career in civvy street and get you on a new career path – building on your current military experience.

“I left the Royal Air Force in 2002 after 16 years’ service in the fighter control specialisation – air defence of the UK specialising in electronic warfare.

Despite struggling to find what I wanted to do, I got a job working for Amey Vectra as a risk consultant for a short while, before taking a post as enterprise risk manager for Paradigm Secure Communications. The SKYNET 5 project (a £3.2bn satellite communication programme for the UK Military), was a real success for me on a personal and professional level.

“I personally found the transition to civvy street difficult as I did not have a plan, but I was lucky to have some support from other ex RAF people who helped me find that all important first job. Since then I have taken matters into my own hands; I have gained an MSc in Corporate Risk and Security Management, gained IRM qualifications and experience within my chosen area of expertise and created opportunities as a result.

Skills transferred from RAF days:
Enterprise Risk Management: This is a key skill most military staff have even if it is called other things. Any leadership role will help develop such skills, but the basic skills required to “know your enemy” and how you to develop tactics to counter the enemy is basic risk management. Broaden that across the organisation and you have the “enterprise” element.

Risk management: Practitioner in project, programme and corporate risk management including the use of quantitative models to support effective decision making and distribution of funding.

Information governance: Military staff understand classification and security of data, so these skills are transferred very easily. This is a key risk to be managed in most businesses these days.

Programme/project risk: Quantitative analysis of capital projects and programmes to determine confidence of delivery to time including costs prior to contract signature and to ensure ongoing confidence in delivery schedules post-contract.

Alastair talks about the value of being involved with the Institute of Risk Management: “I have heavily invested in training within my team fully aligned
to the IRM to complete both the Certificate in Risk Management and the Diploma – as part of the revised role requirements to strengthen risk professionalism in the team and provide credibility in the business.

“We have had 14 staff across the business taking these qualifications in the last 12 months and we have completed over 12 other short courses to learn specific new skills for the various roles and get new insight into current risk practices.

These have included Risk Reporting, Developing KPIs, Risk Workshop Facilitation, Fundamentals of Risk Management and several others – staying competent is a key factor in this role.”

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