How to Make a Career as a Vendor Risk Manager : Demand, Day in the Life of, Certifications, and more

  • Risk Manager
  • Certifications
  • IT Career
  • Published by: André Hammer on Jul 24, 2023

In today's interconnected business landscape, vendor risk management has emerged as a critical aspect of organizational security and success. As companies increasingly rely on external vendors and partnerships, the need for skilled professionals to assess and mitigate potential risks has never been more paramount. If you possess a keen eye for detail, analytical prowess, and a passion for safeguarding businesses, a career as a Vendor Risk Manager could be your ticket to an exciting and rewarding journey. In this article, we'll guide you through the essential steps to carve your path in this dynamic field, from gaining the necessary skills and qualifications to thriving in a role that serves as the first line of defense against potential threats. So, let's dive in and discover how you can become a sought-after Vendor Risk Manager in today's ever-evolving corporate landscape.

Why is there an Increased demand in the career of Vendor Risk Managers

Vendor risk management is a crucial aspect of modern business operations, particularly in industries that heavily rely on external suppliers, partners, and vendors to deliver products or services. Here are some reasons why there is demand for the career of a Vendor Risk Manager:

  • Growing reliance on vendors:

    Many organizations now rely on a diverse range of vendors to outsource various functions, such as IT services, software development, manufacturing, logistics, and more. With this increased reliance on external partners, the need for effective vendor risk management has grown significantly.
  • Regulatory compliance:

    Regulatory bodies and industry standards have placed greater emphasis on managing third-party risks. Failing to appropriately manage vendor risks can lead to non-compliance, financial penalties, and reputational damage. As a result, companies are hiring Vendor Risk Managers to ensure they meet regulatory requirements and industry best practices.
  • Cybersecurity concerns:

    Vendors often have access to an organization's sensitive data and systems. Cyberattacks on vendors can have a significant impact on the organization they serve. Vendor Risk Managers play a crucial role in assessing and monitoring the cybersecurity posture of vendors to mitigate potential data breaches and other cyber threats.
  • Protecting business continuity:

    Disruptions in vendor services can lead to operational downtime and financial losses. Vendor Risk Managers work to identify potential risks and develop contingency plans to ensure business continuity, even in the face of vendor-related challenges.
  • Reputation management:

    High-profile incidents involving vendors can severely damage a company's reputation. Vendor Risk Managers proactively assess vendor performance and reliability to reduce the risk of negative incidents that could harm the organization's image.
  • Financial risk management:

    Poor vendor management can lead to cost overruns, contract disputes, and financial losses. Vendor Risk Managers help identify financial risks associated with vendor relationships and work to mitigate them. The complexity of vendor ecosystems: Large organizations often deal with a complex web of vendors, subcontractors, and partners. Managing these intricate ecosystems requires specialized skills and expertise, making Vendor Risk Managers an essential part of the process.

Who is suitable for the role of Vendor Risk Manager

The role of a Vendor Risk Manager is typically for individuals with a specific skill set and background suited to manage vendor-related risks within an organization. This role is suitable for individuals who possess a combination of the following qualifications, attributes, and interests:

  • Risk Management Expertise:

    Vendor Risk Managers should have a strong background in risk management principles, including identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks. They should be adept at analyzing data, evaluating potential risks, and implementing risk management strategies.
  • Business Acumen:

    Understanding the organization's business goals, operations, and supply chain is essential for effective vendor risk management. Vendor Risk Managers must align their efforts with the company's overall objectives.
  • Procurement and Vendor Management Experience:

    Prior experience in procurement, vendor management, or supplier relationship management can be beneficial for Vendor Risk Managers. Familiarity with contract negotiation, vendor evaluation, and performance monitoring is valuable in this role.
  • Compliance and Regulatory Knowledge:

    Knowledge of relevant industry regulations and compliance standards is crucial for ensuring vendors meet the necessary legal and security requirements.
  • Information Security and Cybersecurity Awareness:

    Given that vendors often handle sensitive data and may have access to critical systems, Vendor Risk Managers should have a good understanding of information security and cybersecurity best practices.
  • Analytical and Problem-Solving Skills:

    Being able to assess complex vendor ecosystems, identify potential risks, and devise appropriate risk mitigation strategies requires strong analytical and problem-solving abilities.
  • Ethical Conduct:

    Vendor Risk Managers may handle sensitive vendor information, and ethical conduct is crucial to maintain trust and confidentiality.

Overall, the role of a Vendor Risk Manager is well-suited for individuals who are skilled in risk management, and vendor relationship management, and have a strong understanding of business operations and compliance. Additionally, having a genuine interest in ensuring the smooth and secure functioning of vendor-related activities within an organization is essential for success in this role.

A Day in the Life of a Vendor Risk Manager

The day in the life of a Vendor Risk Manager can vary depending on the specific industry, company size, and the scope of vendor relationships they manage. Here's a general overview of how a Vendor Risk Manager might spend their day:

  • Morning Routine and Planning:

    The day often starts with reviewing emails and messages to identify any urgent issues or updates from vendors. The Vendor Risk Manager may also spend time planning the day's tasks, setting priorities, and organizing meetings with stakeholders if necessary.
  • Vendor Assessment and Due Diligence:

    One of the primary responsibilities of a Vendor Risk Manager is to assess potential vendors before onboarding them. This involves conducting due diligence checks, evaluating vendor capabilities, financial stability, and compliance with relevant regulations.
  • Meeting with Internal Stakeholders:

    Vendor Risk Managers often collaborate with various departments within the organization, such as procurement, legal, IT, and cybersecurity teams. They might have meetings to discuss vendor performance, ongoing projects, contract negotiations, and any risk-related concerns.
  • Vendor Performance Evaluation:

    Monitoring and evaluating vendor performance is essential to ensure that they meet agreed-upon service levels and contractual obligations. The Vendor Risk Manager may review performance reports, analyze data, and assess vendor compliance.
  • Contract and SLA Review:

    Vendor contracts and service-level agreements (SLAs) play a significant role in managing vendor relationships. The Vendor Risk Manager may review and negotiate contracts to ensure they align with the organization's risk tolerance and compliance requirements.
  • Travel and Site Visits:

    Depending on the organization's needs and the nature of vendor relationships, Vendor Risk Managers might need to travel to vendor locations for on-site assessments, meetings, and audits.
  • Documentation and Reporting:

    Keeping comprehensive records of vendor assessments, risk analysis, and communication is vital. Vendor Risk Managers will spend time documenting their activities and preparing reports for senior management.
  • Crisis Management:

    In case of vendor-related incidents or crises, the Vendor Risk Manager will be involved in coordinating responses, ensuring business continuity, and implementing corrective actions.

A Vendor Risk Manager's day involves a mix of communication, analysis, risk management, and relationship building. The role requires adaptability and the ability to handle multiple tasks and stakeholders simultaneously to ensure that vendor relationships are well-managed and aligned with the organization's strategic goals and risk management objectives.

Certifications to Pursue to get a Job as a Vendor Risk Manager

  • Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC): Issued by ISACA, this certification focuses on risk management related to information systems. It demonstrates your ability to identify and manage IT and cybersecurity risks, which is relevant for Vendor Risk Managers dealing with vendors who have access to sensitive data and systems.
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP):

    Also offered by (ISC)², this certification is widely recognized in the cybersecurity industry. While it is not vendor risk-specific, it covers essential security principles that are valuable for Vendor Risk Managers dealing with cybersecurity aspects of vendor management.
  • Certified Outsourcing Professional (COP):

    Issued by the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP), this certification demonstrates expertise in outsourcing practices, including vendor management and risk evaluation.
  • Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP):

    Offered by the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), this certification is not vendor risk-specific but covers supply chain management principles, which can be relevant for Vendor Risk Managers dealing with supply chain risks.

Before pursuing any certification, it's essential to research the requirements, study materials, and costs involved. Some certifications may have prerequisites, such as work experience or educational background, while others may require passing an exam. Choose certifications that align with your career goals and the specific aspects of vendor risk management that interest you the most.

While certifications can strengthen your resume, keep in mind that practical experience and a solid understanding of risk management principles are equally important. Volunteering for relevant projects or gaining experience in vendor management roles can also enhance your chances of landing a job as a Vendor Risk Manager.

Challenges you may face as a Vendor Risk Manager

As a Vendor Risk Manager, you may encounter several challenges. One significant challenge is managing the complexity and diversity of the vendor ecosystem. Dealing with numerous vendors, each with varying degrees of risk exposure, contractual obligations, and service levels, requires meticulous attention to detail and a comprehensive understanding of the organization's business objectives.

Additionally, staying updated with ever-evolving regulations, compliance standards, and industry best practices can be demanding. Another critical challenge is balancing the need for robust risk management with the organization's objectives of efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Striking the right balance often involves navigating negotiations, implementing risk mitigation strategies, and ensuring vendor compliance without hindering business operations. Furthermore, effectively communicating risk assessments and recommendations to internal stakeholders and managing their expectations is crucial for garnering support and buy-in for risk management initiatives.

Overcoming these challenges requires adaptability, analytical skills, and strong relationship management abilities to foster collaboration with vendors and internal teams while safeguarding the organization from potential risks.


As organizations continue to recognize the importance of vendor risk management in safeguarding their operations and reputation, the demand for skilled and experienced Vendor Risk Managers is likely to grow. Embracing the challenges and proactively addressing them will not only benefit the organization but also provide professionals in this field with rewarding and fulfilling career opportunities. As they forge a path toward secure and sustainable vendor relationships, Vendor Risk Managers play a critical role in ensuring business continuity and growth in an ever-changing and interconnected business world.

In conclusion, the role of a Vendor Risk Manager is vital in today's business landscape, where organizations increasingly rely on external vendors and partners to drive their operations. The challenges faced by Vendor Risk Managers are diverse and complex, ranging from managing a diverse vendor ecosystem to balancing risk management with business objectives. However, these challenges present opportunities for professionals in this field to demonstrate their expertise, strategic thinking, and adaptability.

By obtaining relevant certifications, staying updated on industry best practices, and leveraging their skills in risk assessment, communication, and relationship management, Vendor Risk Managers can effectively navigate the complexities of vendor risk management. The ability to proactively identify and mitigate risks while fostering strong vendor relationships enhances the organization's resilience and reputation in the face of potential disruptions.

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