Season 2 | Ep. 1: Integrating Risk Management For Strategic Growth: Insights from Robin Greenlee, CRO at MapleMark Bank

Season 2 | Ep. 1: Integrating Risk Management For Strategic Growth: Insights from Robin Greenlee, CRO at MapleMark Bank

January 1, 2024

To kick off season two of the Risk Intel Podcast, Ed Vincent, host of the show and CEO of SRA Watchtower welcomed back Robin Greenlee, Chief Risk Officer at MapleMark Bank. The two delved into crucial aspects of scaling a risk management program and the importance of aligning it with the organization’s strategic growth objectives. Here's a quick summary of the key insights from their conversation or please listen to the full recording below to learn more.

1. Building a Strong Foundation: The Initial Challenges

In the early stages of scaling MapleMark Bank's risk management program, Robin navigated significant challenges inherent in a rapidly growing environment. A primary focus during this period was establishing consistency in reporting processes, crucial for a bank expanding from under a billion dollars to over a billion dollars in assets. The key lesson learned was the imperative of creating standardized procedures while remaining adaptive to the evolving landscape of risk management. This foundational phase laid the groundwork for the subsequent development of an effective risk management framework.

Robin highlighted the pivotal role of procedure documentation, emphasizing its significance in instilling confidence and maintaining consistency among team members. A well-documented procedure not only served as a reference point but also contributed to a more comfortable and efficient workflow. Simplicity and accessibility emerged as guiding principles, with Robin underscoring the need for straightforward procedures and the utilization of accessible tools like Microsoft's notebook function. This strategic approach aimed to encourage active participation from team members, recognizing the importance of their contributions to the overall risk management process.

The strategic imperatives of training and documented references were central to this phase. Robin emphasized the importance of strategic training, ensuring that team members were equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate the intricacies of risk management effectively. The combination of a simple, easy-to-follow procedure and strategic training became instrumental in fostering a team capable of understanding and adapting to the evolving risk management landscape. This initial phase set the stage for MapleMark Bank's robust risk management program, laying the foundation for future scalability and adaptability.

"One of the challenges I think is again that attitude of risk being the "traffic cop" stopping you from doing all the fun stuff. But, I think that it is incumbent upon us to initiate that approach to strategy. We should be insinuating ourselves into the strategic discussion from the very beginning and collaborating with our colleagues, not from a standpoint of, oh you can't do that, but from a... OK, how can we do that and what do we need to be mindful of." - Robin Greenlee, Chief Risk Officer, MapleMark Bank

2. Scaling Challenges and Lessons Learned

Next the discussion delved into the intricacies of scaling MapleMark Bank's risk management platform, shedding light on crucial lessons learned during this phase. Robin underscored the necessity for strategic decision-making to maintain the platform's effectiveness without overwhelming it with excessive data points. She highlighted the following three key points:

  • Strategic Decision-Making: Robin's insights emphasized the strategic approach taken to streamline the risk management platform. By selectively extracting relevant data points, the goal was to ensure that decisions aligned seamlessly with organizational priorities. This strategic decision-making process aimed at enhancing the platform's efficacy.
  • Consultative Approach: The importance of a consultative approach became evident as functional teams and managers were actively engaged. Understanding their perspectives played a pivotal role in determining the prioritization of data points. This collaborative effort ensured that the risk management platform remained in harmony with the broader strategic goals of the organization.
  • Take it Step-By-Step: Robin shared a cautionary tale based on experiences, advising against overloading the platform with unnecessary data all at once. This lesson learned emphasized a thoughtful and gradual approach to platform development and advised taking a phased or step by step approach when implementing a new platform. The focus should be to build a platform that not only accommodates diverse data but also crafts a meaningful and actionable narrative for effective risk management.

3. Embedding Risk Management in Strategy: A Collaborative Approach

The symbiotic relationship between risk management and strategic growth was highlighted by Robin throughout the episode, sharing how important it is to take a collaborative approach. She underscored the imperative of seamlessly integrating risk discussions into the core of strategic planning, presenting risk management as a supportive function rather than a hindrance.

A key theme emerged as Robin advocated for proactive engagement by risk managers in strategic discussions. The emphasis was on fostering collaborative initiatives, positioning risk management as a vital support function that aligns seamlessly with the organization's broader objectives. In addition, the practice of engaging in one-on-one conversations with stakeholders was highlighted as a valuable strategy. By gaining insights into the concerns, priorities, and strategies of different teams, risk management can be tailored to meet the specific needs of the organization, ensuring a more targeted and effective approach.

The segment concluded with Robin reinforcing the notion that risk management should be an integral part of the strategic planning process. Stressing the importance of initiating risk conversations early, this approach ensures that potential risks are considered from the outset, fostering a proactive and holistic integration of risk management into the fabric of organizational strategy.

In summary, the journey of scaling a risk management program involves strategic documentation, judicious decision-making, and a collaborative approach that integrates risk management seamlessly into an organization's growth strategy. Robin Greenlee's insights provide a roadmap for organizations aiming to achieve this delicate balance. Watch the full video of the episode below or reach out if you are looking to build or enhance your Enterprise Risk program.

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