Introducing: Vanessa Thurlwell

Becky Leighton

Posted: April 25, 2018

Table of Contents

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1. What is the highlight of your career?

I can’t really pinpoint a particular highlight as it has been more of a journey with key events. These include international travel (the most interesting being Northern Angola), having articles published in magazines, moving from internal roles to consulting and the learning curve that gave me and seeing long-term projects fulfilled, particularly the Risk Practitioner Curriculum and Qualification. And some of the lifelong friends I have made.

2. How is a Risk Management different in start-ups vs well-established companies?

Very interesting question. Startups are not necessarily as heavy in the compliance space, so often Risk Management is done for the value it adds and not merely as a tick box exercise. In well-established organisations, especially large ones, there are often many different departments dealing with risk management and often in silos. Risk reporting is often perceived as a “burden” because it is too detailed and frequent based on existing communication lines, but is not portraying the right information. But on the other hand, well-established organisations that are doing risk management well are sufficiently resourced and can be good thought leaders.

3. Any tips or advice for those starting their careers in Risk Management?

Read read read! There is such a wealth of information online and published. Create a network for yourself, of people in risk management, so that you can learn from other organisations. Keep your focus on the value of risk management and not just the process and ticking boxes and complying – the point is to reduce our risk and improve performance. Be innovative and creative – there is no blueprint for managing risks.

4. What book are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading the memoir of Wangari Maathai who is a woman from Kenya, internationally acknowledged for her struggle for democracy, human rights, and environmental conservation. I always have a long list of books that are waiting to be read, but I just don’t get through them fast enough!

5. And finally, what is the one thing you can tell us about yourself that we won’t find on your resume?

I have a little business on the side – called Oh So Prettea, that is a range of Organic Rooibos Tea blends. I love the tea culture and one day I hope to have a tea blending/tasting shop that is filled with fresh herbs and spices for people to blend their own teas and tisanes with different health benefits.

Vanessa Thurlwell
(BA Honours: Environmental Management)

Has 14 years of experience in risk management, primarily enterprise and operational risk management, and graduated in 2000 with a BA Honours in Environmental Management from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Thurlwell’s specialist skills include advising and implementing all phases of the risk management cycle. These include: analysing risk management maturity; conducting gap analyses against risk frameworks and regulations, including King III and ISO 31000; developing risk appetite and risk management frameworks; facilitating risk management activities including risk assessments, reporting and control assessments; and conducting training at all levels in an organisation.

Other areas of risk management in which she is proficient include business continuity management; environmental risk management; and sustainability risk management.

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