IIRSM guest article

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Sophie Williams, IIRSM Director of Professional Development, talks about an exciting new qualification that’s being developed by NEBOSH and IIRSM.

Today, an organisation’s success tends to be defined by lower costs, better products or services and real excellence at delighting customers. But what do all these things have in common? Healthy, happy, motivated and capable employees, as without them, these
successes would not be realised. Sadly, the impact of poor risk management is still seen too often and can be significant— think Carillion, FIFA, RBS, British Airways, Boeing, Alton Towers, Facebook-Cambridge Analytica, Grenfell, Kids Company and Oxfam all act as testament to this and have devastating effects on employees, suppliers, shareholders, customers and society at large. 

The challenges we face are still increasingly complex and there is little doubt we will see a lot of change in the next 10 years, much of it will be uncertain. This brings to mind a quote from Bill Gates: “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”

This brand new qualification from IIRSM and NEBOSH will help you manage that uncertainty. Immersing yourself in our course materials and rich learning experience, full of real-world case studies, scenarios and group discussions will provide not only a practical and enjoyable experience, but will really help to reinforce crucial new knowledge and skills to help you:

  • Master essential principles of risk and risk management
  • Start having the right conversations about risk with different stakeholders at all levels
  • Take-away a toolkit to help you emerge a stronger professional able to make better decisions to improve the way you manage risk, both threats and opportunities
  • Appreciate the positive impact risk management can play in strategy development, business planning and establishing an open and transparent culture to act on risk, and
  • Understand the important relationship between risk management, business functions, and different risk disciplines and their link to an organisation’s overall purpose and objectives. 

Ruth Denyer, Group Operational Risk Director at ITV and IIRSM Council member, says of our new qualification: “I am excited to be supporting the  new qualification, we are going to be bringing theoretical learning alongside the all-important practical application. This will help candidates gain an understanding of how to operationally make key elements of risk management work within an overarching framework. As a health and safety professional who has moved into a wider operational risk role, I genuinely believe that building knowledge of risk management is vital. I look forward to seeing this qualification enabling others to gain such vital knowledge and skills.”


This qualification is aimed at helping new and aspiring managers become more capable and confident to identify, assess, manage and communicate on risk. It is also highly relevant to those more experienced risk professionals who need a better appreciation of the wider aspects of risk and their impacts on the business, beyond their specialist area. The qualification will be of particular benefit to those
working in risk-related disciplines such as business continuity, compliance, crisis management, emergency planning, enterprise risk
management, environmental management, governance, health & safety, internal audit, project management and quality management.
It will also be of great benefit to anyone who is responsible for the implementation of any management systems or standards, providing a practical risk based approach.

Qualification Overview

The qualification will be made up of three units:

Unit 1 - Principles of risk and risk management

  • The principles of risk and risk management
  • The impact of psychology on decision-making

Unit 2 - The risk management process

  • Overview of the risk management process
  • The external and internal context of an organisation
  • Scope and appetite
  • Risk assessment and treatment
  • The role and importance of risk information

Unit 3 - The risk management framework

  • Integrating the risk management framework into an organisation
  • The relationship between risk management, business continuity, crisis management and organisational resilience

The qualification will be available through face-face training, and eLearning. Both methods will require a learner to undertake pre-course
work and self-study. The qualification will be formally assessed at the appropriate level and method.

The story so far

IIRSM and NEBOSH are delighted to be working in partnership, combining expertise and resources to develop a practical and accessible
risk qualification.  The qualification is underpinned by a set of professional standards which set out the knowledge and skills expected of an individual who is competent to manage risks, in all their forms, no matter their role, type of organisation, industry or geographical location. The following highlights just four of the features that were specifically considered in the development and accessibility of the qualification.

1. The learner will attain new and truly transferable knowledge and skills that can be applied to any industry and size of organisation. The principles of risk and risk management can be equally applied to an SME and a large multinational, and from construction and manufacturing to retail and entertainment industries.
2. No focus on any specific legislation or regulation, but provides tools to help comply, while looking at the ‘bigger’ picture and needs of
the business beyond compliance. Compliance should not be considered in isolation.
3. The practical tools and ideas learners will be able to take away and immediately feel comfortable applying back in their workplace.
4. The course materials and learning experience will be highly practical with lots of real-world case studies and examples, and no jargon.
At the end of last year, we sent the draft qualification syllabus out for consultation to IIRSM members, NEBOSH alumni and other industry leaders. We were extremely delighted at the volume of responses and the constructive and supportive feedback received. We will shortly be reviewing the feedback and holding a Qualification Development Panel workshop with leading professionals from different risk disciplines, sectors and organisations to agree the final syllabus.

What next?

Over the coming months we will be developing the course book, materials and supporting references, while keeping you up to date on progress and any important dates.