Extending the Knowledge and Use of Risk Management

Source: THE ECONOMIC UPDATE, July 2011, PRIMO Malta

John O’Dea speaks to Martin Vella about the importance of developing exchanges of information and expertise to establish risk management as a natural and integral part of good public governance.

John O’Dea is President of PRIMO Malta and a member of the Executive Board of PRIMO Europe, a Pan-European organisation registered and domiciled in Brussels, was set up at a UDITE meeting in Dublin in 2007, to enhance public risk management as an integral part of public governance. He has had a varied career in top managerial and executive posts in the manufacturing, retail and hospitality industries and is currently employed as a consultant with Scotts Supermarkets.

PRIMO Europe was created on the 6’th December 2005, by UDITE- the Pan- European Union of Local Authority Chief Executives of Europe with the aim of making risk management an essential part of good management in the public sector. Since its inception, PRIMO Europe has developed rapidly with chapters in Denmark, France, Nederland, Flanders and now also in Malta – a network which offers its members a comprehensive web library, guidance and counseling, as well as an introductory online course in risk management.

TEU: How would you define risk management and what are its benefits?
JO:Risk can be defined as the combination of the probability of an event and its consequences. Quite a mouthful! Basically, in every type of undertaking, there is the potential for events and consequences that constitute opportunities for benefit or threats to success. Risk Management is concerned with both positive and negative aspects of risk and looks at risk from both perspectives. In the field of safety it is generally recognised that consequences are only negative and therefore the management of safety risk is focused on prevention and mitigation of risk.

Risk Management is a central part of any organisation’s strategic management. It is a process whereby organisations methodically address the risks prevalent to their activities with the goal of achieving constant benefit within each activity and across the range of all activities. The focus of risk management is the identification and treatment of these risks. Additionally, it increases the probability of success, and reduces both the probability of failure and the uncertainty of achieving the organisation’s overall objectives.

TEU: What is PRIMO Europe’s philosophy towards financial risks?
JO: PRlMO stands for Public Risk Management Organisation. It was founded to enhance public risk management as an integral part of public governance. PRIMO is only concerned in financial risks, in so far as how the performance of banks (which were bailed out with public funds) affects the public sector. A case in point is how the global credit crunch has adversely affected and limited public spending on the infrastructure in local government all over Europe where budgets have been trimmed to the bone.

” Risk Management is concerned with both positive and negative aspects of risk”

TEU: What is the importance of risk management in the overall strategy of PRIMO Malta?
JO: PRlMO Malta’s mission is to inculcate and embed public risk management and best practice in both local and national government institutions. PRIMO is the offspring of UDITE, (Union des Dirigeants Territoreaux Europeans) the Pan European federation of local government chief executives. UDITE is a professional networking organisation for local government chief executives across Europe. With around 15,000 members and working as the umbrella organisation across 15 EU countries, UDITE links with its members’ local government national associations to promote constructive relations between chief executives and senior managers.

The executive board of UDITE, of which I was a member, had long discussed the need to set up an independent organisation to promote public risk management; PRIMO was set up at a UDITE meeting in Dublin in 2007.

TEU: How will the PRIMO Academy promote risk management and how will it provide a competitive edge?
JO: The PRIMO Academy is still in its formative stage. The PRIMO Board unanimously agreed to set up an academy to foster and promote risk management to its members and to members of UDITE. I contacted Maven Training – a private organisation that provides training in MoR (Management of Risk) for ALARM – the British national forum for risk management in the public sector and similar European organisations. The PRIMO Academy, will offer training courses, seminars and briefings that attract PDUs (Professional Development Units), which provide evidence of continuing professional development and help maintain professional certification. The PRIMO Academy will enable risk, project and change professionals to gain PDUs via its accredited training courses (foundation and practitioner), workshops briefings and special interest forums.

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