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50 Most Admired Companies of the Year 2021

A premier risk consulting firm with exquisite services to tackle the growing uncertainties in the business environment: Magnifor Consulting

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In the highly unpredictable world we live in, businesses are constantly under scrutiny from unprecedented levels and types of risk from various new sources. Managing the risks effectively is more than just protecting the values of the company. Instead, it is about seeing risk management as a platform for achieving sustainable growth, enhancing innovation, and building credibility. In order to accomplish this, companies must reform their risk management strategies by designing and implementing a business-wide and cost-effective approach. It is essential for companies now more than ever to properly integrate risk perspectives in their strategy development and create a risk-aware culture in their organization.

Globally there are various companies delivering excellent risk consulting services, but Magnifor Consulting stands out from the rest. The company is a leading innovative risk leadership consultancy firm working shoulder-to-shoulder with its clients to maximize the value of uncertainties. Magnifor does that by addressing both risk management and organizational effectiveness in parallel. Adopting such a holistic approach assures that risk management principles are embedded throughout the organization, creating long-term value for all stakeholders. Magnifor seeks to inspire business leaders and empower risk managers. The company collaborates with all its client’s workers and their stakeholders like suppliers, ecosystem partners, and customers. Magnifor’s consultants provide the technology to crowdsource uncertainties through their proprietary solution, Risk FocusTM.

In conversation with Marischa van Zantvoort, CEO and founder of Magnifor Consulting

Q. Why and how did you found Magnifor Consulting?

We started the idea for Magnifor because we wanted to add vital, though missing, elements to risk management practices to enable that discipline to actively contribute to the business’s overall success, no longer only minimizing loss. The purpose of risk management must go well beyond basic compliance. The ‘why’ of risk management should not be ‘managing risks.’ Instead, it must be about people learning to make better decisions. Doing that requires a focus on the development of people engagement and encouraging companywide analysis of risk and opportunity. To make a real impact, risk management must be integrated with organizational effectiveness, but little has been done so far to connect these two worlds - and this can and must change. Driving that transformation is at the heart of Magnifor Consulting’s purpose, and was at the heart of what inspired us, as founders and friends, to start Magnifor Consulting.

Q. What’s your company’s point of differentiation?

Firstly, we focus on balancing risk and opportunity as the two sides of the coin that underpin uncertainty. Most leaders understand that a core responsibility of leadership is avoiding or mitigating risks that jeopardize organizational goals. At the same time, leaders also know that they must take calculated risks if they want to grasp opportunities and get breakthrough results. Therefore, we must embrace taking the right risks at the right moment to open up the organization to possibility. Effectively balancing these two realities will result in extraordinary success.

Secondly, we bring bottom-up insights to risk and opportunity registers from people across the entire organization. The goal is to move from informed compliance to risk-awareness, engaged compliance, and critical thinking. Ultimately, this leads to an organization regarding those on the frontline as professional partners who identify and point out risks and opportunities, providing the organization’s leadership sufficient time to be proactive well before threats harm the company, employees, customers, or other stakeholders. It also allows them to seize opportunities well before they slip away, potentially becoming a competitive advantage for rivals.

Thirdly, we support risk managers in moving away from being siloed in solely managing risks from a top-down perspective in isolation from the rest of the organization. Even with all we know today about leadership and management, one of the most untransformed areas of business is risk management. Risk managers are still perceived to be the ‘grey suits from headquarters’, unaware of the real issues of the front line. The Covid-19 crisis has further increased their separation from the frontlines, as most of them were forced to work from their home offices. Expectations of the discipline ensure their accountabilities are set up to fail. While risk managers are equipped with sophisticated tools and technology, it is absurd to expect them to provide an always-on radar, scanning the emergence of risks and opportunities at all levels of the organization.

Currently, we observe leaders interested in having all their employees be de facto risk managers. There is a growing interest in having all employees enabled to monitor the actual level of risk and opportunity rather than rely on a static shot in time of what risk was identified during a risk workshop. The post-Covid-19 era offers risk managers a profound opportunity to make a difference and take leadership in guiding their companies forward in the roaring twenties of our time. Our intent is to empower them to do just that.

Q. What can you tell us about Risk FocusTM? And how efficiently does this solution raise risk awareness, transform your clients’ culture, and produce profound business results?

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Let us drill down a bit deeper into the ‘how to’ of making every employee a risk manager. Our approach is to do that through crowdsourcing – an increasingly well-known platform in the innovation space. We have deployed that proven practice into the space of risk management and have built our proprietary system Risk FocusTM to make the process of crowdsourcing easy and enjoyable for our clients. Why? Because there was nothing available in the market that served these goals and so, we had to invent it. Our cloud-based digital solution, Risk-FocusTM, supports companies in crowdsourcing risks and opportunities. Having and utilizing a few simple screens in everybody’s pocket will stimulate the sharing of uncertainties, potential issues, or simply observed anomalies. It allows each individual to raise their voice and identify uncertainties that might have a potential impact on their organization’s objectives. As some clients shared with us: “We democratize risk and opportunity insights.”

Risk-FocusTM makes organization-wide sharing easy and enjoyable. Uncertainties are logged in less than two minutes, which encourages all employees to contribute. In addition, the workflows enable integration into companies’ business strategy, operations, and compliance processes to drive enhanced learning and risk-informed decision making. The system automatically aligns uncertainty management processes to the organization’s specific goals and makes risk and opportunity identification systematic. Risk and opportunity analysis is done continuously rather than only having a static risk picture quarterly or less. The result is a dashboard on which management can see the actual level of risk and opportunity daily. Risks don’t rest, and opportunities don’t wait. And so shouldn’t risk management practices. It is critical to include recognition and feedback. The real value behind crowdsourcing is the engagement you are able to create: making sure that people are recognized for their inputs and given feedback of what was appreciated engages them further in the company and its objectives. In crowdsourcing, every voice counts and must have equal weight because no one of us is as smart as all of us.

Q. Can you elaborate on Magnifor’s new services in the field of risk leadership and culture?

I always like to compare culture with the wind. While it is invisible for everyone, no one escapes the effects that are seen and felt wherever you are. When it is blowing in your direction, it makes the sailing easy. When it is blowing against you, everything is more complicated. Old school risk management is very technocratic. To continue the metaphor with sailing: it is about knots and tactics. Modern risk leadership develops a crew’s desire to sail challenging journeys into unchartered territories. To bring that back to my everyday reality in working with our clients, more and more we are coaching business leaders in how to mobilize all hands and minds on board in sharing what they know about the risk and opportunities related to their mission and business goals. Culture change will not be achieved through top-down mandate only. At Magnifor, we believe that culture lives in people’s collective hearts and habits and their shared perception of, ‘how things are done around here.’ Because leaders play an essential role in the movement towards a risk culture, we have developed a Risk Leadership MindsetTM model. A mindset that is vital for any leader who wants to pivot teams and organisations towards a risk culture. The attributes of what shapes a Risk Leadership MindsetTM are further explained in the visual below.

Leaders who develop a Risk Leadership MindsetTM will be better able to create radical foresight on risks and opportunities coming their way. They will be prepared to do what all great leaders do; help their teams deal with the increasing complexity and speed of change of our times. A prominent topic in our conversations today is the emerging concern about ‘The Great Resignation’. Post Covid, employers are finding employees leaving their company in droves. They are not leaving because of how they were treated by their employers. Rather, they are leaving because of how they were not treated. The work we do will re-energize the employee’s bond with their company’s goals. And with that, it is a leveraged way for an employer and leader to show their people that they are taken seriously way beyond the cliché, ‘I hear you’. Introducing our approach shows a willingness to actively listen, and a means to immediately and effectively act on what’s being shared. To activate this with and for our relations, we have created a Risk Leadership Society. It is a community of practice where senior executives come together in a safe and inclusive environment to deepen aspects of risk and opportunity management. In the upcoming session, we will further explore this model and how to apply it. Participation in these sessions is still available.

Meet the leaders behind the success of Magnifor Consulting

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Alasdair Philip cofounded Magnifor Consulting with Guillaume Niarfeix and Marischa van Zantvoort in 2016. Alasdair is a senior risk management, international logistics and organizational change executive with extensive experience in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North America. Alasdair is a proven leader with the experience to balance strategic imperatives and tactical needs; creating agile organizations for tomorrow, while never losing sight of the requirement to deliver financial results today.

Guillaume Niarfeix started his career in strategy consulting before joining Total in 2005 occupying various leadership roles in Supply-Chain and Operations for 10 years before finally taking the position of Head of Risk and Strategy for the CAPEX division in West Africa. Building on this he is one of the Founders of Magnifor bringing his industrial and project experience acquired in some of the most difficult and uncertain areas of the world.

Marischa van Zantvoort is the CEO and founder of Magnifor Consulting since August 2020. She started her career in management consulting and commercial roles before joining Philips in 2009. She served as an executive business leader at Philips, the Dutch multinational corporation headquartered in Amsterdam for ten years with a start as Chief Auditor. From there, she held leadership roles in customer service, commercial operations, Sleep and Respiratory Care, and served in a leading role in the divestment of Philips Lighting. In her last role in Philips, Marischa was the Chief Commercial Officer for the Philips Healthcare Informatics business. In June 2021 she received CEO Today’s CEO Award in the category Management Consulting for her thought leadership on risk and opportunity management.

“Together we design & build uncertainty management approaches, ensuring that the right people see risks and opportunities at the right time, enabling teams to act with skill and confidence and extend the boundaries of what is possible in their response strategies.”