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Academia And Industry Must Come Together To Ensure Future-Ready Risk Education The pandemic has also revealed the necessity of building resilient organizations that can stay agile in the face of global uncertainties

By Hersh Shah

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The last few years have seen a rapid transition of businesses that saw a further upheaval during the pandemic. Rising global interconnectivity, increasing automation and fundamental societal shifts have changed the old rules of management, giving rise to emerging risks that must be accounted for through a well-planned enterprise-wide implementation of risk management policies. This requires the deployment of risk management professionals at key positions, from managerial roles to the C-suite.

The pandemic has also revealed the necessity of building resilient organizations that can stay agile in the face of global uncertainties. We need a robust, collaborative ecosystem of academia, industry and government, to build a strong risk-conscious approach across different sectors and businesses. It is time that we see risk management as a vital managerial function that must be inculcated through systematic academic training and hands-on industry experience.

Symbiotic relationship

Academia and industry have long shared a symbiotic relationship when it comes to training students on business-specific skills, such as finance, accounting, or marketing. While academia is responsible for grounding students in key concepts and principles of various disciplines, industry linkages are crucial for ensuring onsite experience and mentoring. These industry connections are vital for educational institutions in ensuring that their students are job ready.

For the industry, a robust risk-oriented academia is equally important. It ensures a pool of risk intelligent professionals who have expertise in the foundational concepts of risk management. As our business landscape becomes increasingly complex, risk management training has also gained importance. Over the years, we have seen the emergence of many schools of thoughts in the field of risk management. Academia is responsible for preparing students with a grounding in these basic principles.

Training students

Holistic risk management requires an all-around approach in training students and those already working in the field. Theoretical knowledge of risk management is insufficient in imparting in-depth risk expertise and must be augmented with hands-on training and exposure to real-life work experience. Students need exposure to on the job tasks and scenarios to understand how theories apply, and are implemented, in real-life situations.

While programs such as internships and summer training projects are useful in this regard, a sustained and more immersive experience like a mandatory three-year articleship for CAs can be greatly fruitful. Apart from working on risk-related assignments and live case studies, budding risk managers can also get a chance to work with top professionals and firms in risk management. They can gain valuable insight into the practices and applications of risk management theories, implementation tactics, common challenges, and how these are managed. This practical exposure is critical when training future-ready professionals.

Investing in R&D

Like any other discipline, risk management training also requires continuous research and development to stay relevant and pertinent to a rapidly changing business environment. For instance, students must be well-versed in newer risks, such as cyber risks, and the different aspects to help develop and implement policies that can facilitate dealing with such uncertainties. The collaboration between industry and academia can help foster new ideas and innovations in the field. While teachers are invested in building knowledge through research, industry leaders can bring in funding and a practical perspective, helping in refining new concepts as per their applicability in real-life situations.

Thought leadership platforms like seminars, workshops, and whitepapers are instrumental in delving into the current practices, identifying lacunae, and forging new ideas. These collaborations are of vital interest to the industry as well. Apart from ensuring a well-rounded education for future job candidates, research can help business leaders gain an insight into the changing business environment, consumer expectations, and common practices.

Academia-industry linkages

We have already witnessed the success of such collaborations in other professional domains, such as chartered accountancy and business management. Premium management schools, today, offer extensive onsite training through internships, Capstone projects, and training programs. In addition, they also have mentorship programs where the institution's alumni help in guiding students.

Professional risk management bodies have taken it a step further through attempts to create a vibrant ecosystem, with multi-faceted collaborations with leading businesses in the field of risk management. The involvement of the industry in risk management training also needs to be multidimensional. Risk management professionals, such as risk analysts, insurance analysts, loss control representatives, corporate risk managers, financial risk managers, and senior analysts, must be consulted when developing curriculums. Currently, industry leaders are invited to participate in student workshops, guest lectures, or as special faculty to ensure that academic learning and teaching remains relevant and practical.

The industry must reciprocate by offering learning opportunities through fieldwork or research projects, along with internships, intensive training programs, and job opportunities. The ultimate purpose of these collaborations is to build a pool of talent that can help businesses to implement and continuously improve their risk management programs. A vibrant ecosystem with active participation of academia and industry can ensure robust and resilient businesses that can withstand any uncertainty.
Hersh Shah

CEO, Institute of Risk Management - India Affiliate

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