December 21, 2020

How Much Risk & Reward – Richard Fenning Advisor and Former CEO Control Risks with Jonathan Bowman-Perks 

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AS CEO your people are your product

Richard Fenning Advisor and Former CEO Control Risks 

Richard advises a number of the firm’s long-standing clients and provides counsel to the firm’s leadership. He joined Control Risks in 1993 and was CEO from 2005 until 2019, when he was succeeded by Nick Allan. During his tenure as CEO, Richard oversaw the significant growth of Control Risks’ business, a substantial increase in the firm’s geographic footprint and a comprehensive enlargement of the range of services provided to an increasingly diverse global client base. 

In 2016 Richard led the firm through a complex and successful management buy-out, establishing Control Risks as a corporate partnership and ensuring the on-going independence of the firm. He is a regular speaker and media commentator on geo-politics, international security and risk issues. 

Prior to being appointed CEO, he was chief operating officer and head of the firm’s New York office. He now divides his time between Singapore and London. 

Richard has an honours degree in Modern History from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom and in 2004 attended the Advanced Management Programme at INSEAD business school in France. 

 He spoke of growing up in the 1960s in Doncaster, Yorkshire. His parents were both from working class backgrounds and instilled in him clear values of hard work and self-reliance. His father served in a Lancaster crew in Bomber Command during World war two while still in his late teens although he rarely talked about it. This experience in part gave him the determination to build a successful family business. Richard has deliberately not tried to emulate his father’s tough, uncompromising management style! 

Richard joined Control Risks in the early drawn by a clear fascination with how geo-politics and security impact international business. This has afforded him a fascinating insight into how senior executives approach risk: some are over cautious, others reckless while a find that right balance between sensible prudence and bold ambition.  

 We spoke of Brexit and the mood in the world. In particular, the lack of inspiring political leadership and why politics is now such an unappealing career. But Richard is optimistic about the next generation of leaders in business military, civil and voluntary sector – people of exceptional quality .  The environmental movement suggests that there is no absence of leadership among the  younger generation with their vision and determination. 

As CEO running a consultancy or professional services firm – you are acutely aware that your people are your product. Your brand and reputation relies on the quality of thousands of human interactions all over the world every single day.  And you are hiring people often not for their general business skills but for very specific individual expertise. You need to recognise that deploying this expertise is what fundamentally motivates them. They may be interested in the overall success of the firm but this is not their primary motivation. And high degrees of expertise are often accompanied by quirky personality traits!  

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