As we approach year-end, it is clear 2022 has offered no reprieve from shocks and cascading risks

If we came out of the pandemic looking for some good news, we were disappointed. We continue to fight fires, metaphorical and physical. But risk managers must always be where the challenges are and must continue to build resilience and hope.

In January, Beazley warned us that corporates were facing ‘resilience fatigue’, particularly in pandemic-exposed industry sectors - but back then there was some hope of post-COVID respite and creativity. Then came Thursday 24 February.

As we approach year-end, it is clear 2022 has offered no reprieve from shocks and cascading risks, and that we should expect another tumultuous year in 2023.

From the War in Ukraine and associated fallout - including the energy crisis (page 12) - to the hard insurance market, extreme weather events and raft of intangible threats, risk professionals have continued to fight fires from all corners of the globe. Which begs the question, are we surviving or thriving?

Forty percent of workers are facing burnout, according to research by the International SOS Foundation. We don’t appear to be getting any better at managing a seemingly endless workload, even if your company policy includes ‘quiet Fridays’.

At such times it can be tough to find the time to future gaze, collaborate with others and influence senior management.

The lifting of pandemic restrictions in many parts of the world was greeted with a surge of optimism. Physical meetings and events have once again got underway, and hybrid working has become the norm (unless you work for Goldman Sacks or Elon Musk). But there are tradeoffs, including being faced with the chaotic state of business travel.

Earlier this year, risk commentator Alexander Larsen urged risk managers to step away from their desks more. It is time to develop softer skills to better leverage our technical skills, to win hearts and minds and build more positive - and inclusive - risk cultures, he said. This message has never been more relevant.

One of the more inspiring speakers I have listened to during 2022 is Mykhailo Rushkovskyi, head of risk management, DTEK. Speaking virtually from Kyiv during a panel discussion at Ferma 2022, he noted wryly that profit margins tend to become a secondary concern when faced with the stark reality that your business might “cease to exist tomorrow”.

“The role of new risk management is to build up business resilience,” he said. “We are not in the last crisis today. You’ve got to be there where the challenges are and where the transition is. Know your business and do not stay in 2019 - the world has changed and we cannot do things the same way we did before.”

As we look ahead to another extremely uncertain and volatile year, we must find the time to talk, think and collaborate. This includes making wellbeing a strategic priority for ourselves and our organisations. We must build the collective resilience to cope with the inevitable shocks that lie ahead and ensure we have the headspace to support change and innovation as and when opportunities arise.

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