ERM – As a Solution to Business and Project Failures

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 Who is Robert Mbonu?

I am an Enterprise Risk Management framework advisor, born into a close-knit family of a Nigerian father, and mother from Kingston, Jamaica in the West Indies. So, I have dual citizenship – being both Nigerian and Jamaican.

My primary and secondary school education was in Lagos at St. Marys Private School and St. Gregory’s College respectively. University degrees were first in Civil Engineering from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Lagos.

I worked as a structural engineer for a couple of years before moving to the banking industry where I spent over 25 years. Starting as an equipment leasing officer, rising to supervisory levels in loans administration, then branch management and later to board roles as Executive Director and acting Managing Director. I was fortunate to attend various executive training programmes at prestigious institutions namely IESE Barcelona, IMD Switzerland, Harvard Business School, Lagos Business School, City University London to mention a few.

My interest in risk management was heightened by trends in corporate successes and failures. This led me to qualify as a Member of the UK Institute of Risk Management (IRM), and undertake further post graduate degree studies in Risk Management at Stern School of Business, New York University, USA.

I am a member of The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN); The Institute of Directors (IOD), Risk Management Association of Nigeria (RIMAN), and Fellow of both The Institute of Credit Administration, and The Association of Enterprise Risk Management Professionals (AERMP).

I am presently the managing partner of MCB-RMCIR, an ERM consulting firm. My objective is to assist boards and teams understand their risk management needs, and so doing achieve their objectives with greater assurance.

You are passionate about risk management, how did you develop this interest?

Risk Management is a very broad area considering the different types of risks out there. My primary focus is on Enterprise Risk Management (ERM). This involves structured and holistic methods and processes used by organisations to manage risks and seize opportunities related to the achievement of their objectives.

ERM can also be described as a risk-based approach to managing an enterprise, integrating concepts of internal control, and strategic planning. Enterprise Risk Management is evolving to address the needs of various stakeholders, to understand the broad spectrum of risks facing complex organisations.

Starting work as an engineer honed my analytic and creative skills. I joined the banking industry with this mindset, to constantly seek solutions to business problems, and alter existing norms where necessary.

Working in the various areas of banking gave me an appreciation and understanding of the nature of risks, its importance in every credit facility, by customer type and sector, and business venture. I was exposed to the critical role of corporate governance having served on a few boards including two financial institutions, a major international hospitality chain group, a few SME’s and non-profit organisations. I have also personally experienced firsthand a corporate failure and crises, and start-ups.

There is a risk management lesson to be learnt from every corporate failure, from poor strategy execution, to weak corporate governance frameworks, to non-regulatory compliance.

Contrary to popular belief, Risk management is not restricted to the banking and insurance sectors.

Other non-financial sectors, especially public sector ministries, departments and agencies need to deepen their maturity in risk management to effectively deliver social services and projects. This is the level the profession has advanced to in more developed countries.

As a professional in the field, how would you explain risk management?

Risks are uncertainties that matter; uncertainties that affect the achievement of goals and objectives. As humans, we intuitively make decisions about risks in our daily lives. Risk management is the process of identification, analysis and acceptance or mitigation of uncertainty in decisions we take.

The tools and techniques that are applied in the Risk management profession are constantly changing. As resources and funding gets more difficult and scarce, businesses and government ministries, departments and agencies (MDA’s) are forced to take cost cutting measures to achieve their objectives with greater assurance. Today, any business or MDA operating without a proportionate and comprehensive enterprise risk framework is like a person crossing a busy highway blindfolded.

 

You were recently appointed Head of the Nigeria Regional Group for The UK Institute of Risk Management (IRM), what is the IRM about?

 

 

The IRM is a global professional body for risk management and leaders of education and training in Enterprise Risk Management. Through its training, qualifications and thought leadership activity, including seminars, regional and special interest groups, the IRM aims to bring together sound academic work with the practical experience of its members worldwide.

 

As leaders in the research of new tools and methods, The IRM provide the necessary support to meet the growing expectation for boards, audit committees, and senior executives to design and implement effective enterprise wide risk management systems.

The Nigeria regional group, comprising IRM members resident in Nigeria, has just been set up. Our aim is to grow implementation of ERM in strategy development and corporate governance through: ERM Roundtables; Internet Resources; Research on Enterprise Risk Management; Response to Issues Affecting Public Policy; and Hands-on Consulting and Speaking Opportunities.

What has been your experience so far as a weekly columnist in this field?

With the support of THISDAY, a leading news media group, I have produced over 25 weekly articles so far. The response and enquiries from readers has been encouraging. I have kept the narrative simple to appeal to a wider public. My objective is to deliver the knowledge of ERM, which could be complex, in a simple and easy to follow style, and by so doing sensitise boards and management about its benefits. In the long run giving back to society, as a method to avoid some business and project failures in both public and private sectors.

  • Mbonu, FERP, CIRM(UK), HCIB, MsRM (Stern), studied Engineering, is an experienced Banker and Enterprise Risk Management professional. Earned a post graduate degree in Risk Management from New York University Stern School of Business, and is a member of the Institute of Risk Management -UK. Can be reached on 09092092046 (SMS Only); email: rm4riskmgt@gmail.com