By Claire Crabtree
This is a story of firsts. They say you have many firsts in your life, the first time you walk and talk, the first day of school, your first kiss, your first job. In his book, An Innocent Abroad: Life-Changing Trips from 35 Great Writers, Pico Iyer said, “The beauty of any first time is that it leads to a thousand others…”
That is how I feel about my work as a Manager in Risk Advisory at Periculum. Being in consultancy dares me to treat every day as a new day, a day in which I relish the firsts and all that they bring. After 18 years working in financial services, initially in compliance, complaint management and training before moving into risk management, it was easy to see the lasts. The last hour before the end of the day, the last day of the week to get to the weekend, the last time I felt challenged to grow beyond my current role.
After I joined Periculum, with the lasts in mind and a hunger to expand my expertise — to have a thousand firsts — I began my journey into the world of consulting. I met with my first client to understand their risks and was excited to offer practical solutions from years of industry experience. This led to another first – the opportunity to create risk management tools and techniques, completely tailored to their needs. Producing high-quality results from risk solutions is an ethos within the company that challenges me to constantly improve my knowledge and reach for more bold paths forward.
Recently, I was able to spend two days at a non-financial risk conference with like-minded people to discuss both the future of risk management and what companies can do to enhance the value and tangible benefits of their risk management programs. I came away feeling invigorated. Not only had the conference encouraged me to examine how I looked at risk management, it had enlightened me on how much my own thinking had developed since joining Periculum.
Moving from big firms to a forward-thinking consultancy has been like learning a new language, and that was reinforced at the conference. Attending the event strengthened my own development in speaking the risk management language, from third party risk management to operational resilience. At the same time, the way in which I was able to embrace open and candid conversations about the future across a range of risk management types highlighted my proficiency in a new language – Periculum’s language of progressive, winning ideas, of risk management as a competitive advantage.
The first time I heard “risk management as a competitive advantage” was from Periculum’s managing director, Christopher Thackray. His conviction, which is shared by our other leaders, Bill Bandon and Joe Venturato, is one I seek to emulate as I lead our internal client advocacy network, develop new business relationships and expand my personal brand – within and outside Periculum. This has led to greater confidence in using my voice to help clients better understand risks and what these risks mean to their business.
As I’ve increased my passion for the future of risk management and looked for new ways to reinforce my own personal development, I have taken the personal step of mentoring a student as part of the Open University Elevate Mentoring Scheme. In doing so, I can help students ignite their career flame, as I have been fortunate to experience in my career to date, not least since joining Periculum.
When COVID-19 shutdowns hit (a first I shared with the whole world!), a few things changed around Periculum, just like it did for so many others. We went into isolation, and I was unsure what that would do for the momentum the team and I felt to deliver solutions, but instead of feeling alone and unmotivated, I found new inspiration and security with the Periculum team when Chris implemented weekly well-being meetings. As we continued to work for our clients, he ensured we spent time together remotely.
At first, we checked in three times weekly, but as the workload picked up, we implemented a Friday ritual on video– Debrief and Drink – where we could discuss our week, what we were experiencing in isolation, what we had planned for the weekend (typically innovative ways to keep ourselves sane), and then we would share a cheers. Here I discovered a new first – being on a team aligned to a common purpose who wouldn’t allow shutdowns to shut us down.
Steve Jobs said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”
In January 2020, well before the pandemic, the Periculum team took an evening to relax over a drink and get to know each other. I was talking one-on-one to Bill Bandon who had flown in from New York. We were discussing the commonalities in his job as a lawyer and mine as a student of law when I was at university.
At one point, he asked me, “What would your dream job be?”
Without hesitation, I told him, “I’m lucky enough to already be doing it!”
He looked surprised. “You don’t have to say that.”
But it was the truth. And that’s a first I’m thrilled to relive over and over.