Coca-Cola Hellenic’s group risk and insurance manager escaped the consequences of risky street food but was ambushed by inappropriate headgear
What are you thinking about right now?
My next challenge. I love to get things done. I love to solve issues. I love work to be challenging, and I’m always asking: “What’s next?”
What is your greatest fear?
Leaving my children unprepared to cope with what a quickly changing world might entail for them in the years to come.
What was your most embarrassing moment?
On the [rugby] sports field, salvaging a loose ball, getting kicked in the head by a team-mate for my troubles and then, in a state of confusion, standing up and running with the ball back towards my own try line. How quickly the pursuit of glory can turn to ignominy.
An even funnier episode occurred one cold English winter’s morning. I wrapped up warm to leave the house, woolly hat on and coat zipped up. I crouched down to say goodbye to my children and did not realise that my son, who was behind me, had placed his canary yellow Bob the Builder hard hat on top of my hat. Oblivious, I walked out the house, met my neighbour, had a five-minute “how are you today?” chat and only realised I was wearing the B the B hard hat when I got into my car and checked the rear-view mirror. My neighbour kindly - or cruelly, I am not sure which - didn’t say a word.
What is your most treasured possession?
My sanity, although some days it is difficult for me to tell which side of the asylum door I am on.
What makes you happy?
Being able to help, making a difference, spending time with my children and witnessing the resurgence of English rugby [union].
What makes you unhappy?
Witnessing the “walk on by” attitude, whether it is the frequent ambivalence of the powerful and the wealthy towards the disadvantaged or simply the actions of those who are too afraid or uncaring to get involved, to assist and help others who need it. And I would have been very unhappy if Lancaster had not got the England job.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
I am tempted to say either solo sky-diving or potholing, but the risk manager in me never really thought I was exposing myself to any unnecessary danger, only a calculated risk.
Probably the greatest risk with hindsight was buying and consuming something that defied description from a roadside vendor in Colombo, Sri Lanka. I simply couldn’t deny the visceral urge to eat and regretted it quite violently a short time afterwards.
Fortunately a doctor with a strong Hippocratic urge, who was armed with powerful antibiotics, was close at hand in the hotel.
What is the worst job you’ve ever done?
I laboured on a construction site in my teens during a summer break for spending money. Simply mind-numbing, back-breaking and, in my opinion at the time, grossly underpaid.
What is your greatest achievement?
My PhD. Whether you regard a PhD as a contribution to knowledge or training in the field of research, it was arduous and more difficult than I ever imagined it would be but, because of that, the most rewarding and fulfilling undertaking.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned?
Always be prepared to deliberate, question and debate; to consider the opinion of others, especially if they do not align with your own. There should be no such thing as received wisdom.
Providing a devil’s advocacy is one of the most value-adding roles that a good risk manager can play. Challenging assumptions, asking the difficult and often obvious questions that no one else has thought to ask, and encouraging debate provide value beyond compare when it comes to improving decision-making.
However, devil’s advocacy often entails communicating contrarian messages, and risk managers have to be aware of how this can reflect on their role and, in turn, how they are perceived within the organisation. You need to be brave.
Tell us a secret?
I used to play bass guitar, badly some might say, in a rock band. I lived the life for a while and enjoyed it immensely before common sense prevailed and I found my way back into mainstream society a much wiser, enlightened and worldly young man.
Adam Greene is group risk and insurance manager, Coca-Cola Hellenic