The Institute of Risk Management (IRM) asks its members what working in risk is really like and what hints and tips they’d share with people looking to move into the industry.

Lisa Watson, CMIRM | Senior Manager – Audit Practice Management | Internal Audit

CIBC First Caribbean International Bank, Barbados

How did you get your job?

My first exposure to risk was in a role called Internal Control Officer.  It was kind of a catch all/ hodge podge role which at the time seemed like a combination of random job tasks.  People around me hardly used the word “risk” but as I realised as time went on I was part auditor and part investigator.  That job was offered to me purely because of my curiosity and willingness to learn.

Lisa Watson
Lisa Watson

My first job in Internal Audit was an admin role but it gave me great exposure to the profession and made me want to learn more.  I took every opportunity given to me to read and learn.  Before long I was promoted to Audit Manager.  My current job in Audit Professional Practices is the perfect combination of audit knowledge and admin skills.

What’s a typical day like as a Senior Manager – Audit Practice Management ?

On a typical day I could be doing a number of things from scheduling audits, to writing a report to the Audit Committee.  Interviewing staff for internal audit vacancies to resolving issued on the Internal Audit tool TeamMate.  Other days I am updating the audit methodology and providing guidance to auditors on how to maintain compliance with the IIA Standards.  And some days I am doing all of the above!

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the variety of challenges it presents and the need to be constantly up-to-date and thinking on my feet.  The problem solving challenges are most exciting to me.  When there is too little to do I get restless.

What are the challenges?   It is sometimes difficult to get everyone on the same page, meet management expectations, audit timelines and still stay on side with the audit standards.

In what way are your IRM qualifications relevant?

My IRM qualification (which was part of my MSc in Risk Management from Glasgow Caledonian University) gave me exposure to risk from multiple perspectives.  It also creates another confirmation of acquired skills as a professional qualification is highly respected.

What would you say to others thinking about joining IRM as a member? 

Go for it!! The benefits outweigh the costs.  From the opportunity to meet others in your profession to training provided.  IRM membership will only enhance your risk knowledge and exposure.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions? Has being linked to the IRM helped?

The IRM has offered alternative career options in Risk Management that I may not have considered before.  While my job is interesting I may consider other risk management options in the future.

Top tips:

  1. Develop an understanding of the difference between Internal and External Audit and understand the value Internal Audit adds to an organisation.
  2. Join your local Internal Audit Chapter or start one if it does not already exist.

Find out more about the Institute of Risk Management and our Training, Membership and Qualifications.