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Dr Schneider, the research indicated that ‘there was no
specific reason or logic [as to] how organisations were
actually reducing risk. Even where compliance with
standards was in place, there are significant gaps [created]
by trying to manage risk in segmented ways – physically,
anecdotally or historically’.
Dr Schneider recalls the moment that he was contacted by
ACU to run the program as ‘the ultimate acknowledgement
[that] we [R2S] were now moving onto another level in the way
they were educating and sharing knowledge around managing
risk’. Rather than resist or extinguish risk, Dr Schneider says
that this program, which he took over in December 2015,
encourages managers to embrace and better understand risk
from a psychological and cultural perspective.
‘The program offers an area of opportunity for leaders and
managers to broaden their skill set and capability offerings to
clients and external parties, as well as manage their own and
their staff’s performance more effectively,’ says Dr Schneider.
‘Broadening out of the knowledge of process and
conventional risk management into a more holistic risk and
people management approach, combined and integrated
with risk processes, is a significant benefit for all parties
involved – particularly if we look at managers developing their
careers, or people that want to move into management.’
Dr Schneider says that the way we identify and manage risk
has implications for business success and organisational
wellbeing. Therefore, the program is designed as an
advanced leadership program, best suited to managers
and leaders with medium to high levels of interest in, and
responsibility for, people, risk, governance, or aspects like
security and safety.
While prior training is not necessary, the program is a
postgraduate qualification, so applicants are expected to
either hold a bachelor’s degree, or have at least three years’
The program was created with the intent to accommodate
professionals with busy working schedules. The course
structure comprises four units; units one and four are taught
face-to-face, and units two and three are taught online.
There will also be a completely face-to-face version in 2017
for those who prefer that method of delivery. Intakes are
scheduled for Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney,
but spaces are limited, as the program thrives on deep
Today’s graduates come from various sectors and academic
disciplines, from government to small companies, and from
senior executives to human resources managers. ACU
says that it finds the enrolment numbers for this unique
postgraduate course continue to be especially pleasing.
The learning outcomes of the program are intended to
provide understanding about the principles and practices of
the psychology of risk, to develop a better understanding of
risk maturity and to understand how the psychology of risk
changes the way practical risk aspects, such as safety and
security, can be tackled.
‘I brought a wide range of experts in, from business to PhD
professionals and various behavioural specialists, to form
part of the research and teaching team,’ says Dr Schneider.
The first unit, called The Social Psychology of Risk, introduces
the importance of the unconscious in judgement and decision-
making, and its importance in understanding risk. It also
introduces the three-tier approach: understanding ourselves,
understanding others and translating this understanding into
Unit two, Leadership and Risk, enables a new way of
understanding why people do what they do – especially
understanding how people make sense of risk, and use that
ability to lead and influence others.
Unit three, Communicating and Consulting about Risk,
explores the ways in which the presence of people affects
judgement and decision-making. The power of priming in
communications is examined, with reference to semantics,
discourse, language, pitch, framing, human presence,
movements, groups and human exchange. The realities
of subjectivity and constructed discourse are studied with
reference to how risk is communicated.
The fourth and final unit, The Social Psychology of High
Reliability Organisations, applies social psychology
principles of risk to organising and organisations. The unit
has a particular focus on the work of prominent social
psychologists, who have exceptional ideas and models of
culture and human arrangements.
Dr Schneider says, ‘One of the challenges that we have to
overcome in the risk industry is to show that we add value,
and enhance performance as well as operations. In many
ways, this has proven to be difficult in the industry, based
on its grudge spend nature, and low-level perspective in
‘How I differentiated myself was through constantly
educating myself, and gaining recognised academic
qualifications. Getting a specialised university-level
postgraduate qualification on your CV will instantly separate
you from everyone that does not’.
Dr Schneider adds, ‘Only when we embrace risk in a
calculated way that integrates logic and process with
empathy and understanding, will we innovate in a
sustainable manner and turn risk to opportunity’.
Successful completion of the Graduate Certificate in
the Psychology of Risk may qualify graduates to receive
advanced standing towards a masters qualification, subject
to board approval.
To find out more about the course, visit acu.edu.au.
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