RAG and Breaking Through Barriers

Tasked with reviewing the London Conference of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), I must begin with gratitude.  Gratitude for BT and Bernice DeMarco for letting us use their magnificent venue and hosting us so well.  Gratitude for our sponsors whose belief in RAG allows us to run the events. Gratitude for the participants and RAG Committee for all the hard work and effort in making the conference one of such high quality and substance.

Gratitude for our members who attended the first of our four conferences this year.  You are the reason that everyone gives so much.  You are our energy source.  And the room was busy!

RAG Chairman’s Top 3 Highlights

Quality underpins our events and knowledge sustains us, so it is exceptionally hard for me to pick my favorite parts of RAG London. However, for me personally, there are a three points of note that I wanted to share.

1. Evolve or die

BT once again opened the conference with an inspiring presentation from Bernice DeMarco, Director of Revenue Assurance at BT Group, and key members of her team talking about the continual evolution of RA within the BT Group.

For a long time, Bernice’s team and their ethos of change and challenging the assumed limitations an RA function have been a beacon to others to follow suit, and their offering at the London RAG conference was no different as the team talked about the ongoing vision to see revenue assurance persist across all areas of the business.

2. Getting to know each other

Knowledge and experience sharing has always been at the heart of RAG, and is firmly embedded in the core principles for what we do and stand for.  The networking and social aspects of RAG are equally as important, even if they receive less attention in the advertising of our events.

Through RAG I have had the privilege of getting to know movers and shakers, rainmakers and some of the best known and respected names in our fields.

Seeing people from all areas of the industry, at all levels of experience and seniority, interacting socially and openly remains a big part of what I want people to get from attending our events. It always warms my heart to see conversations and opinions flourish at each of our social activities.

3. Breaking through

There was a core theme that ran throughout the entirety of the London conference, from BT’s opening keynote to our closing Wise Heads Panel, but this was, for me, best articulated by Atul Jain, Founder and CEO of TEOCO.

Whilst I knew what Atul was going to be speaking about, no one in the auditorium, including me, was fully prepared for what I can only describe as an inspirational talk which looked to address the thing that truly inhibits growth and development in our discipline, within our companies and within ourselves as practitioners.

Atul’s message was about breaking through and what I took away from it was fundamental to what RAG strives to do.  Make a change.  Embrace the changes and challenges which are presented, and be sure to push for that change to break the cycle of normality.

If we don’t do things differently, we will only ever see the same results.  The message was clear.  Break through.  Make it right.  Cut through the Gordian knots which bind and hold us back.

Conference Presentations

One of the main questions that we get asked, both during and after the conferences, is whether the presentations will be available. The answer is yes.  We have already made many of the RAG London presentations available in the members’ area of the RAG website. All you need is to be a RAG member to see them.

Membership is free, so what’s to lose?  If you like what you see, think of how good it would be to participate in a live event where you can also ask your questions.  Well that’s free too, so sign-up if you can come along to our next conference in Bonn.

Summer in Bonn

The next RAG conference is scheduled for Wednesday 21st and Thursday 22nd June, and will take place at the head office of Deutsche Telekom. The wonderful Gjurgjica ‘Gina’ Pesheva will be our host, helping us to bring RAG to Germany and mainland Europe for the first time. This may be our first big conference outside the UK but the demand is clear. It is just a few weeks since we placed our registration form on the web and already one-sixth of the available seats have been booked. We will have a full house if registrations continue at the same rate.

All talks at RAG Bonn will be given in English. Attendance will be free, but you should book your place as soon as possible.

Effecting Change

During RAG London we revisited the RAG working groups and initiatives and provided updates on what RAG is delivering outside of our conferences.

The energy in the room was high as we listened to updates and progress on education and training, the UK POCA anti-fraud campaign, and the RAG Innovation Initiative, which aims to bring about valuable improvements across the industry.

The RAG Committee has also been working hard in the background to bring even more initiatives which will change the industry. Members receive regular email updates about progress, so join RAG if you want to get involved and be the first to know about our new services and collaborative ventures.

Putting Our Money Where Our Mouth Is

Some of you may have read the previous articles (such as RAG and the Year of the Fire Rooster) or updates about our international schedule for 2017. Thanks to the generous support of our hosts and sponsors we are keeping our promises to RAG members.  In addition to RAG Bonn, we will soon announce details of RAG Johannesburg, our first conference in Africa. We also plan to run a conference in the Asia-Pacific region.

With the help of the professional community, we intend to bring our uniquely interactive conferences to every region of the world. We’re especially excited about addressing the different challenges that vary from market to market. At the same time, we know how much risk and assurance professionals have in common, wherever they work, and how much everyone can learn from everyone else. Whilst we are bringing our educational events to new countries, we do so with a humble spirit, expecting to learn as much as we teach. We think that attitude is expressed by our motto…

By the experts, for the experts.

Rob Chapman
Rob Chapman
Rob is a consultant working for Cartesian in the UK, specializing in business assurance. He previously worked at Three, Cable & Wireless, Verizon Business and TalkTalk.

Rob is also Chairman of the UK's Risk & Assurance Group. The RAG is the oldest regular gathering of RA professionals anywhere in the world, having first met in 2004.