HR Indaba Africa 2018: InsideRisk takes experiential learning to another level


The US-based company puts executives through a real-life hostage drama.

In the coming weeks and months, we will be chatting to all the HR Indaba partners, asking them why they are excited about the event and what they believe are the most important issues facing the profession. In this article, we speak Willem Gouws who along with partner Toni Shuping will be running the company’s South African operation. 

What is Inside Risk? 

Inside Risk is a US-based company which creates and markets ground-breaking experiential learning events and immersive live experiences based on true stories of high-stakes incidents. The Inside Risk Leadership Program is designed for those who lead in chaotic times and under high pressured circumstances executives and managers characterised by constant exposure to new information, a limited attention span and a thirst for experiential learning. The leadership program takes business leaders straight to the core of their leadership: challenging their risk-taking abilities; discovering team dynamics while facing conflict and exploring decision-making under extremely volatile conditions. 

 The program has never been done before anywhere on the African continent and is truly a unique “first” for South Africa. Participants experience complete immersion into the story of Swiss executive J.P. Mottu, who in 1988 become responsible for the life of one of his employees, a young female engineer kidnapped by Colombian rebels. 

Through film, multimedia, and live moderation, participants experience high-stakes situations where audience members are called upon to make extremely challenging decisions, both individually and in groups, leading to invaluable personal insights and a clear understanding of key behaviours that can be turned into highly valuable leadership qualities. 

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InsideRisk’s High-Stakes Leadership in Action programme was developed in collaboration with Professor George Kohlrieser of the IMD Business School in Lausanne, a real-life hostage negotiator and leadership expert. It’s a programme like no other and the executives who go through it come out with a very different learning experience than any other management course out there. It literally forces you to examine yourself as a leader and as a person. 

As expressed by Insiderisk Founder, Edouard Getaz: “Most leadership development courses teach you something. George Kohlreiser and our team wanted to design a program that awakens something in you.”

Why have you signed up for the HR Indaba and what can attendees of the event look forward to?

InsideRisk is expanding into South Africa because the pool of talented business leaders is well recognised around the world. There are many organisations here that can benefit from what we offer and the HR Indaba is the perfect opportunity to build some awareness around the company. We will be doing a cliffhanger, promo event at the HR Indaba which will provide a sneak-peak into what to expect when participating in this event  We invite everyone to come and experience it and we’re sure that people will be very intrigued by the whole thing as there is nothing quite like it! It’s like being in a real-life hostage situation, and that’s quite an adrenalin rush but also revealing of your true inner leader.

What you believe is the biggest challenge facing the HR profession at the moment?

There are a number of challenges that the HR profession face at the moment, these include: 

1. Sourcing and retaining unique talent. Our programme highlights to HR professionals how they make decisions under pressure with very little information which ultimately translates into whether they make the right hires or not.

2. Rapid change and transformation taking place are all spheres of business. HR professions are forced to make challenging decisions under ever-changing conditions on a daily basis. Our leadership programme highlights to them how efficient their decision-making processes are.

3. Trust and ethics. These are two big-ticket items of major concern in both the public and private sectors. How entrenched are individual moral compasses in guiding decision-making, how ethical are business practices and are risk profiles an indicator of moral and ethical behaviour?

4. Growth and development. How does the HR professional continue to motivate and innovate for growth? Cutting-edge, unique programmes, like Inside Risk, provide never-before-experienced content which inspires and triggers long-term leadership improvements.

What kind of leadership skills does one gain from being in a hostage situation, really?

We all face hostage situations on a daily basis. It can be a difficult customer, an employee, a peer or even the current economic pressures we face. Many leadership programmes will elaborate on what it means to be a good leader, the steps to take, etc. However, this programme is different because it reveals your true inner leader and who you truly are under stressful, uncertain situations that challenge you in every area of your personal and professional makeup.

As succinctly stated by Bruno Giussani, International Curator, TED, participating in the InsideRisk Leadership programme is  “A unique and memorable way to take a deep and honest look at our resilience and leadership skills.” 


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