Airmic chief executive John Hurrell is preparing to celebrate the risk management association’s 50th birthday with a conference inspired by 1960s mod culture and the music of The Who

John Hurrell

Are you looking forward to this year’s conference?

This will be a special event as we are marking 50 years of Airmic, so it should be a lot of fun. The attendance numbers are looking fantastic - we are well up on last year, which was itself a record.

What is so special about Brighton?

One great aspect of this year’s event is the proximity of all the venues. Everything is within 300m of everything else in Brighton. The conference centre, our reception and a lot of the parties insurers are having will also be close together. This will create a sense of community, which is sometimes missing when the event is more spread out.

We notice the Airmic 2013 programme and conference signage has a mod theme. Is this really Airmic’s conference or a concert by The Who?

As Airmic is 50, we are looking back to Brighton in 1963 - and our conference theme reflects this. Our programme pays homage to The Who’s Quadrophenia, which was set here, and you will see this theme creep into a lot of things that take place during the conference. It is not all about mods, but we are trying to encapsulate elements of the era, as you will see at our cocktail party tonight.

Presumably certain parts of those days will be left out, such as the gang fights?

There will be fighting at our party, but only on screen! We have recorded a continuous loop of battles on the Brighton seafront from that era. We also have some Vespa scooters.

Can we look forward to seeing you whizzing around the conference venue on a vintage scooter?

Sadly, I think we are prevented for health and safety reasons from riding them inside the venue.

What can delegates expect on the business side for Airmic 2013?

There are two risk-focused reports we shall be covering. Roads to Resilience, the follow up to Roads to Ruin, will demonstrate that effective risk management that underpins corporate strategy must be driven from the top and reinforced by the entire organisation.

The second looks at supply chain case studies. We are doing 17 topical studies, including the Boeing Dreamliner and its battery problems. We will draw on the lessons learned, either in terms of making the supply chain more resilient or, if there is a problem, the speed of recovery.

We will also be producing a guide covering risk management qualifications and the job descriptions that go with that.

Finally, we are publishing a report with the company secretaries’ association, the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA), that offers advice on reporting standards for businesses to consider in its annual reports on risk. This is important because firms have tended in the past couple of years towards disclosing everything and not actually giving shareholders and other interested parties useful descriptions.

We are seeking to offer guidance here, because the ICSA is extremely influential in this space.

Is there more?

Plenty - we have some fantastic speakers and clinics, which are certain to get the attention of delegates.

Risk management as a profession has developed enormously since the creation of Airmic, but board engagement still remains an issue.

How can this be resolved?

The Roads to Ruin report identified the gap, and what we were seeking to do with Roads to Resilience is to get good examples of solutions.

Where boards are focused on risk, the leadership and the culture is set from the very top. And when boards are focused on risk, a number of things flow from that: risk informs their strategy, it forms a central part of their customer relationship, it is a central part of their governance culture and the board empowers senior management throughout the entire organisation to take risk-related decisions for the benefit of the organisation.

The indications are that where this is effective it has a lot of benefits for the organisation in terms of customer retention, brand reputation, resilience and so on. We want to make that point and the case studies we have looked at show this.

Will Airmic last another 50 years?

Of course! Companies are increasingly recognising the strategic advantages of risk management and Airmic as an organisation is going from strength to strength.