11 Mar 2024
by Mandy Knowlton-Rayner
How long have you been a Board director and what brought you to the role?

My connection with ALARM has been consistent since I first joined when I became the Insurance Lead at Norfolk County Council. Once I saw the opportunities for improving my skills, networking, and being involved in developing best practice, I was hooked.  

I started my direct involvement by joining the East Anglia Committee, eventually becoming Chair. At one of our events the then Chair of ALARM told me how in a few years I could be on the Board. I didn’t really think she was being serious or that it would be an option. Over time I thought a little more about it, did some research around what was involved, and decided I would take the plunge.

It was a time when the Board was larger, and we had a Chief Executive. The role was different but the fundamental values of being there for our membership was still a strong focus. I took all the opportunities that were available, including leading on the response to the Civil Justice Reforms from the defendants’ perspective. I grew in confidence in expressing the public sector view and thrived in debating and making positive arguments.

What skills and learning have you taken from your role as Board Director?

I really cannot list all the activities I have been part of, but one of my main areas of focus is developing member benefits. These range from guidance documents, training, events, conferences and our outstanding journal, stronger . I still support stronger production as part of the Marketing & Communications team, led by our Editor and the amazing ALARM Office.

I contributed to the Insurance Back to Basics Guide, and now I am exploring how this can be developed into a comprehensive training package. It will be similar to the Back to Basics and Advancing the Agenda for Risk Management courses.

It is a much smaller Board of now and the enthusiasm and commitment from everyone is inspiring. I guess the only downside is that as the role is in addition to everyone’s day job, sometimes we get frustrated at the speed we can deliver our ambitions.

What is your role in your day job and what are your responsibilities?

For the day job I am the Insurance and Risk Lead at Lincolnshire County Council. While I still have reasonability for insurance, I mainly focus on strategic risk management. This involves facilitating the strategic risk register with our corporate Leadership Team, providing training to our members and those of other authorities, and reporting to the Audit Committee.

This year we are developing a combined risk report where all the executive directors present their risk profiles to members in a face-to-face session, clearly demonstrating their ownership and commitment to risk management.

The support I get from the ALARM community never ceases to amaze me. One of the strongest benefits we have is our willingness to share. Learning from others and being able to mentor and coach new entrants to our rather unique profession is really inspiring and something I value. I am not sure where else those opportunities would arise.

I have recently had the privilege to deliver some risk management training to members of our newest membership group, Higher Education. It has been fascinating to see how this sector has many of the same issues but also some very different ones too, not to mention the different language.

What would you say to someone considering getting involved in ALARM?

If anyone is thinking about becoming more actively involved in supporting ALARM my advice is ‘just do it’! You will not regret it and the benefits to you as an individual and your organisation will be substantial. You may even be able to conquer a fear or two like the one I had about public speaking. I still do not like it but I have learnt strategies to deal with it and feedback seems to indicate I am doing ok.

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