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Institute of Risk Management SA award marks Unisa's risk maturity

Unisa’s efforts to improve its risk maturity gained new momentum when the Department of Risk and Compliance was awarded the Risk Initiative Award (Education) by the Institute of Risk Management South Africa (IRMSA) at its gala dinner and awards ceremony on 28 October 2016.

The award was received for the risk management event, organised by the university’s Department of Risk and Compliance and hosted by Prof Mandla Makhanya, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, that took place from 6 to 8 September 2016, themed Leading change by turning risk into extraordinary opportunities.

The Institute of Risk Management South Africa (IRMSA), with members from a wide range of organisations in the private and public sector, is a non-profit organisation consisting of individuals and companies committed to the enhancement of risk management. IRMSA has been recognised by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) as the professional body for risk management in South Africa, and is the institute of choice for risk professionals and practitioners in Southern Africa. It is dedicated to the advancement of the risk management profession through research, promotion, education, upliftment, training, guidance and accreditation and has strong relationships with similar institutes and associations internationally.

According to the Executive Director of Risk Management and Compliance, Denver Fortuin, the risk management event, a first of its kind for Unisa, was an important step on the journey to the university becoming a risk-mature institution. It provided a platform for management and external stakeholders to discuss pertinent risk issues in the journey towards the development of a mature risk culture.

Currently, mostly due to a lack of awareness around the importance of risk management and its role in the achievement of strategy and sustainability, stakeholders often tend to side-line risks. Many of these risks, if ignored long enough, may have a profoundly negative effect on the institution’s operations. The event therefore aimed to bring together professionals from the academic, public and private sectors to discuss important challenges to the implementation and inculcation of risk management in higher education institutions and share cutting-edge risk management practices related to the higher education environment.

Sumaya Jaffer, Risk Specialist in the department and who was instrumental in organising the risk management event, said although the award was made to the Department of Risk and Compliance, it was equally deserved by the sponsors, presenters, attendees, and all the Unisa staff who made the event possible through their dedication and hard work. “We want to thank all these stakeholders for contributing towards our success and our vision of improving the risk maturity of Unisa and embedding risk management.” Fortuin echoed this by acknowledging the personal sacrifices the staff of the department had made to ensure the success of the risk management event.

“The success of the event has inspired us to host another event next year. Although the theme of the 2017 event has not been finalised it will undoubtedly assist Unisa and the higher education sector in general to take their risk maturity to the next level. With the continued support of our winning team we are optimistic that the 2017 event will also be inspiring.”