01 Mar 2018
What I Do: Philippe Hellich (MBA 1996)
Group Risk & Compliance Manager, IKEA Groupby Julia Hanna; illustrations by Peter and Maria Hoey
Founded in Sweden in 1943, IKEA is the world’s largest furniture retailer, outfitting dorm rooms and designer homes around the globe. A company that engages nearly a billion customers every year and employs over 194,000 workers in 49 countries has plenty of upside potential, but risk is ever-present too, be it a customer tripping on a display or an entire country divorcing itself from established trading protocols. “The diversity of risks is what makes this job so exciting,” says the man whose task it is to prevent issues from striking the business too hard—anywhere from the retail floor to the bottom line.
“I’m always curious to learn new stuff and meet people; in that sense, this job is never boring. Every risk is like a case study, so HBS prepared me very well—you need to have an agile mind to jump from topic to topic, but most importantly, my job is to communicate and inspire colleagues to become risk-aware entrepreneurs.”
“To support the business, I have a team of 45 direct reports leading 1,200 people around the world who work to identify and mitigate risks throughout the organization. We work across nine areas of responsibility—everything from information security and data privacy to employee and customer safety, as well as crisis management, compliance, and internal audits.”
“We all make risk-based decisions every day. The same is true in my business at a higher, broader level. A few months ago, we launched a Brexit risk impact assessment to better anticipate what could play out for our group across Europe. So it’s not just safety risks—it’s also strategy, competition, and legal risks.”
Class of MBA 1996, Section C