Christian Jordi, you have been the head of the management services division of Health Promotion Switzerland since November 2014. You are also responsible for the foundation’s risk management. In concrete terms, what is risk management?
Risk management is a management function that is often subsumed under the term‚ Corporate Governance. It comprises two main elements. These are strategic risks, such as environmental and reputational risks, and operational risks, such as budget overruns or errors due to unclear procedures. Operational risks are recognized by the internal control system (ICS), which also is a part of the ordinary audit.
Can you cite examples of risks that have been identified by Health Promotion Switzerland?
Negative media coverage that would harm the reputation of Health Promotion Switzerland is an external risk, for example. A further threat is the possibility of not reaching too ambitious outcome targets. Staff absences due to illness or injury are examples of internal risk.
And how is Health Promotion Switzerland concretely dealing with these risks?
The foundation’s strategic orientation and performance is assessed quarterly by the executive board, using our management information system. The results are communicated to the board of trustees. In addition, the strategy committee and the audit committee (drawn from the board of trustees) examine the development of the strategy on an annual basis.
What is your advice to professionals who would like to establish risk management in their own organization?
Materiality is one of the fundamental requirements. Risk management should identify the most important risks and give them highest priority. In addition, risk management needs to be lived, i.e., familiar to all employees and verifiable by auditing. Finally, the size of the risk and the probability of its occurrence should be quantifiable, if possible.
A last question: Besides risks, is it also possible to identify opportunities?
Where there are risks, there also are opportunities. A SWOT analysis (analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) can identify and affect them. Health Promotion Switzerland actively follows developments in the field and tries to identify and exploit windows of opportunities. For this purpose, it is active in various networks and in close contact with decision makers in politics, government, business and non-profit organizations. Policy developments are constantly and systematically monitored. In addition, we collect and continually evaluate the latest scientific knowledge in our subject areas.