Zain Group Appoints Chief Risk Officer

Zain, the international telecoms group that runs operators in the Middle East and Africa, has announced the creation of a new Chief Risk Officer position, which will be occupied by AbdulGhaffar Setareh (pictured above).

Setareh has been promoted from Group Risk Director, and has worked his way up since joining Zain in 1995, having previously been a Senior Transmission Engineer, Director of Network Operations, and Corporate Security Manager. He is a Kuwaiti national with a degree in Telecoms Engineering and affiliate membership of the London-based Institute of Risk Management.

The new CRO will report to Zain’s Risk Committee, and is responsible for the group’s risk framework and strategy.

Zain Group CEO Scott Gegenheimer said:

Risk Management is a top priority at Zain and critical to the company’s future prosperity. Mr. Setareh’s extensive experience will ensure we continue to enhance the operational effectiveness of the Group’s risk oversight and control assurance processes, which is critical to our efforts to transform into an integrated digital lifestyle operator, with a particular emphasis on enterprise solutions.

Though Setareh has already been Zain’s most senior risk manager for over a decade, his promotion to CRO will probably have more than symbolic value. It sends a signal that ERM needs a dedicated champion at C-level. CROs can address other executives as an equal. Reporting to a sub-committee of the Board also helps to ensure the new CRO has effective influence over the management of the group’s risks.

Zain is not the first telecoms group to appoint a CRO, but I hope this sets a precedent for others. By promoting from within their ranks, Zain have indicated that personal knowledge of the business and its people is as least as important as a textbook education in ERM. Creating the role also tells the stock market that risk management is treated as a serious responsibility, and this was reinforced by the CEO’s comments. Other telecoms groups should follow Zain’s example.

You can read Zain’s press release here.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is a recognized expert on communications risk and assurance. He was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and others.   Eric was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He was a founding member of Qatar's National Committee for Internet Safety and the first leader of the TM Forum's Enterprise Risk Management team. Eric currently sits on the committee of the Risk & Assurance Group, and is an editorial advisor to Black Swan. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.   Commsrisk is edited by Eric. Look here for more about Eric's history as editor.