Quickfire Q&A with one of Asia’s top risk managers – Roland Teo, governing council member, Risk & Insurance Management Association of Singapore (Rimas) and founding board Member, Pan-Asia Risk & Insurance Management Association (Parima)

What are you thinking about right now?

Recently people have asked me to recommend risk management courses to help equip risk managers to do their work. I started to think of the many courses out there, but do they really help risk managers get the work done? Unless we as risk managers take the responsibility to transfer our experiences and knowledge to other risk managers, no one can.

What is your most treasured possession?

My family. They help me put everything into perspective. They are the reason I do anything and I need to make sure I will be there for them despite the many external expectations.

Who is your greatest hero?

My late grandmother; she managed to single-handedly raise my dad and aunt during the Japanese occupation in World War II. It was no mean feat for a woman to be running a business and taking care of two young children at the same time during one of Singapore’s darkest moments. She imparted her values, which have helped me to be a better person.

What is your greatest achievement?

For me: “The best is yet to be” (Robert Browning). My journey is still long and I still have dreams to fulfil. However, one of my most fulfilling achievements was leading the launch of the Singapore government’s National Business Continuity Management programme in 2008. It was the world’s first support programme, with S$30m funding for companies to manage their risk and the flu pandemic during 2008-2009. Within the first year we organised 50 outreach events to more than 7,000 participants and 5,000 firms.

Tell us a secret

If I told you then it wouldn’t be a secret anymore! Very few know that I used to paint cartoons on walls and draw comic books. My classmates enjoyed reading them. At one time I wanted to be a graphic designer, but if I had done that you wouldn’t be talking to me in ‘Headspace’.

What makes you happy?

Quality and quantity time with my family, especially going on holiday. As a risk manager, spending time with them is a luxury, more so when I have a commitment to help grow the risk management community through the many professional boards and committees I sit on.

What is the most important lesson you have learnt?

Leadership and relationships go together. Leadership is not about driving people or programmes; it’s about earning trust, which takes some time, but losing trust is easy. Relationships are so fragile nowadays. You can take 100 correct steps, but all it takes is one wrong step and the relationship you have built over the years can go south overnight. However, if we remain humble, consistent, sincere and honest, it’s still recoverable.