Looking for those lightbulb moments - the life of a risk consultant

  • Engaging with customers and helping them manage their risks is all part of a working day for Geraldine McFaul
  • Most of the day is spent offering advice relating to staff or public safety
  • Customers often just need a little extra guidance

We talk to Geraldine McFaul about the life of a risk consultant.

“I enjoy having the opportunity to engage with people one-on-one,” says Geraldine McFaul, Risk Consultant at Zurich Municipal.

“That moment when you see a lightbulb go on in their heads – that moment when it all really comes together for them and everything makes sense – that’s very satisfying.”

Geraldine’s job is split between getting out and about to advise customers on how to better manage their risks, and co-ordinating the Local Council Advisory Service (LCAS).

“LCAS is there as a risk management sounding board for our members,” says Geraldine. “We run training and awareness courses, as well as offering a comprehensive pdf library of documents that offer guidance on managing risk and carrying out effective risk assessments.

“But that’s just one part of my job. As a risk consultant – part of a UK wide team – I also focus on the specific risk needs of our customers in local government, universities, housing associations, leisure trusts and charities, as well as town and parish councils, to see what we can do to help them.

“This is usually offering advice relating to staff or public safety. For example, I might be doing a health and safety review, a health and safety inspection review, a housing audit or delivering training on subjects such as risk assessments, managing events or accident investigation.

“About 60-70% of my work is out on site, and the rest of my time is in the office writing reports – I say ‘the office’, but we are all home based.”

Risk management solutions

According to Geraldine, the most satisfying part of her job is assisting customers to establish practical and effective risk management solutions – an independent view often helps customers to see the bigger picture – helping create those ‘lightbulb’ moments.

“While we may be there to find out what’s going on and make our recommendations, we are also having conversations and making suggestions as we conduct our site visit, review and/or training sessions.” she says.

That moment when you see a lightbulb go on in their heads – that moment when it all really comes together for them and everything makes sense – that’s very satisfying

Geraldine McFaul, Risk Consultant at Zurich Municipal

“Officers often find the responsibility for risk management quite onerous. But when you talk it through with them they realise that they are already doing a good job, and that can be quite a relief for them.

“As a team we take a pragmatic approach. We don’t just go in and show them the gold standard and refuse to accept anything less than that. We know that there are other ways to do things and often success comes down to common sense – I use that phrase a lot in training.

“People will often comment that we are helping them formalise and organise the way that they were already doing things.

“Customers already know about the services they are responsible for, they just want a little bit of extra guidance so that they can do their jobs even better, providing help and support to the communities they serve.”