Özge Öz is the FERMA Risk Management Rising Star of the Year

Özge Öz, risk manager at Turkish retail group LC Waikiki and member of Turkish risk management association Erma, won the Rising Star of the Year award. She was presented her prize by Philippe Gouraud, head of strategic client and broker management at category sponsor XL Catlin.

Özge has a strong insurance background, but the judges were impressed by several ERM programmes, training sessions, workshops, risk maps and risk mitigation projects she developed and led.

In2016, Özge conducted risk identification meetings with more than 500 employees and various departments that helped develop a company-wide ERM structure. In addition, she also initiated LC Waikiki’s global property damage, business interruption and liability insurance programme with the London market. The judges felt that Özge demonstrated a wide range of technical and interpersonal skills and continually improved her risk management skills. She also bridged her insurance and risk management experience to find tangible risk mitigation solutions.

The depth of talent in this category clearly bodes well for the future of the risk management community in Europe, with Pedro Rodríguez Díaz, risk manager at DEOLEO and member of Spanish risk management association Agers, and Benedikt Hintze, corporate finance manager at KWS and GVNW member, also shortlisted.

 

She talked to FERMA about her career and hopes for the future.

Özge is Enterprise Risk Management Manager for LC Waikiki, Turkey’s biggest fashion retailer. LC Waikiki trades in 832 stores in  38 countries. The company has nearly 3000 people working at its headquarters in Istanbul and more than 24,000 people in total in Turkey and abroad. Özge is a member of the Turkish risk management association ERMA.
 

What is your background?

I have A BA degree in actuarial studies and an MA degree in ınternational trade management. I have also completed the FERMA-Lloyd’s professional development programme for risk managers.

 

How did you get started in risk management?

During my actuarial education, I did internships in several departments of insurance companies, namely business development, finance, claims and casualty. After completing my masters degree, I started to work as an underwriter in facultative reinsurance. Getting into risk calculations was quite interesting and satisfying. After a while I realised insurance decisions were outcomes of customers’ risk mitigation plans. I wanted to be in this wider risk world, so I shifted to the customer side doing both enterprise risk management and ınsurance management.

 

What are the most important characteristics of the job for you?

It is quite easy to point out the highlights for me as the most differentiating areas of risk management;

  • High motivation: It  is not very realistic to expect everyone to provide support for what you are trying to do in your company. Miscommunication, game of thrones and changing priorities may be the main obstacles while you are trying to proceed.  

  • Curiosity about both current and upcoming changes in industry, business and world obviously: Nowadays, it is not only about the industry dynamics or company objectives. Every single  change in economy or politics can directly affect the company’s viability.

  • Good communication: Our business is with people, and performance in the end will depend on the perceived benefit . Being kind and gentle and having positive relations are crucial, as in every aspect of life. You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar .

  • Result oriented approach: It is not easy to quantify all risks but deep analysis and effective identification of risks and their concequences will be helpful for the business and senior level decision making. Foreseeing the future and what it will bring can be done with a result oriented approach and proved facts, otherwise it will mean nothing but storytelling.

 

What about your career goals?

It would be a great accomplishment for me to be at the top of a company – big or small- so that someday I could use all my experience in risk management for strategic decision-making processes. Now I am in a position of pointing out the risks and providing support for risk management but deciding whether I should take it or not would be the biggest challange. I believe I have a lot to learn but I am trying my best by investing on my career.

 

Would you recommend risk management as a career for a new graduate and why?

I definitely would recommend working in the risk management area, especially for newcomers. New generations are more likely to be “generalist” rather than working in specific areas and becoming “specialists”. Risk management is definitely about having at least an opinion on every subject and willing to work as a multitasking work force.

Risk management clearly provides a broad approach and competency in all segments of business. Of course it will take some time and effort;  when you are working in the area of risk management, the learning curve will be steep but the results will be extremely satisfiying. Working in this subject for ten years, I can easily say that I have learned so much about all business functions. One day I am dealing with financial issues and another day my scope of work is related to reputational risks of the company.

Risk management needs a remarkable investment of time and research capability to become qualified in this area. Business is changing, the world is changing and sometimes it is really so hard to capture the agenda.

Above all, it needs good communication skills. Like all the other functions in a company, people and communication management is a must for risk management. As I have had many meetings and worked for several projects, I feel I have grown up and been educated by working with my collegues.