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The Importance of Training

Wednesday 14 March 2018

in conversation with Jag Narayan 

Last week, GRC Professional took the opportunity to catch up with GRCI member and Chief Risk Officer at State Super, Jag Narayan.

Narayan spoke about the importance of incorporating a balance of formal and informal development through the lens of his own career.



Tell me a little about your professional journey up until now.
After university, I started as an internal audit graduate at Westpac. This gave me great experience in the retail, financial, and banking operations of the business, especially from an audit perspective. Since then, I have worked with organisations like Caltex, Insurance Australia Group and Territory Insurance Office.  I developed broad experience in retail, manufacturing, finance and insurance.  For the last two years, I’ve been at State Super as the Chief Risk Officer.

While at Westpac, Caltex, and IAG, I also took on secondments in front-line roles such as credit analysis, financial and management accounting to deepen my understanding of operational requirements.

How did you get into GRC?
The first professional job I had out of university was in internal audit, and that’s how I got into risk, compliance and governance. It’s an area of interest to me but in a sense, I sort of fell into it!

Over time, I swapped internal audit for front line business roles, where I acquired a greater appreciation for risk and compliance management.  I then pursued roles in investment, general insurance, banking, and have most recently been working in the superannuation industry.

What challenges have you faced in GRC roles, over the years?
In one of my roles, an unhappy customer crashed their car through our head office doors. Thankfully, no one was injured however what followed was a challenging period, having to deal with internal and external stakeholders, engineer improvements to procedural controls and deal with the legal implications. In more business-as-usual situations, it can be challenging to continue to be a trusted advisor to the business, ensuring that you are adding value as opposed to being seen as a ‘hand-brake’ to business activities.

How have you handled your professional development?
I have always tried to take advantage of learning opportunities, both formal and informal to ensure currency of the knowledge and experience that I can the offer the business. This has included completion of the Chartered Accounting Program, Certified Internal Auditing Program, an Advanced Diploma in Financial Services, an Associate Intensive and the recent 10184NAT Graduate Certificate in Compliance and Risk Management with the GRCI.

Informally, I enjoy and get a lot of value from listening to relevant business and professional developmental, podcasts.  I also read widely to keep abreast of changes occurring in the Australian marketplace and globally.


Why do you think professional development is so important?
The underlying reason professional development is so important is because of the amount of disruption happening now. The world is changing at a rapid pace. GRC professionals need to make sure their skills are both current and relevant, to develop a successful career.

I believe it is up to each individual to take ownership of and lead their own professional development—even outside the more traditional learning and development tools and they should do so with the future needs of the profession and the business in mind. The traditional 80/20 training equation which includes on the job and formal training will quickly become either a thing of the past or minimum requirement for development in the future.

What advice would you give to emerging GRC professionals or experienced professionals looking for the next step in their career?
My advice to emerging GRC professionals is to take every opportunity to work with the front line of the business as possible. In my view, there is no better way to build commercial acumen and financial knowledge than being a part of the front line. This provides perspective into the challenges faced by the business and provides an opportunity to be involved in addressing these challenges.

For the more experienced professionals, and in the context of rapid disruption and change, I would recommend developing ‘soft skills’, such as critical thinking, communications skills, written communication, and inter-personal skills, as these core competencies will remain relevant and potentially become more important, whereas administration aspects of a GRC role will eventually be taken over by robotics in the not-so-distant future. As such, my recommendation is for professionals to invest in human relational competencies.


Jag Narayan is responsible for developing and implementing the risk, compliance and internal audit strategy for State Super.

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