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  • Julien Haye

Gray Rhino on Risk Management and Decision-Making with Michele Wucker

Michel Tucker on Gray Rhino on RiskMasters with Julien Haye

Discover Michele Wucker


Welcome to another insightful episode of RiskMasters, where we delve into the world of risk management with leading experts in the field. In this episode, I have the pleasure of hosting Michele Wucker, a renowned strategic advisor, global economic policy expert, and author of the critically acclaimed book THE GRAY RHINO. Michele brings her wealth of knowledge and experience to discuss her personal journey, decision-making, and the concept of the Gray Rhino.


In this episode of RiskMasters, you will discover


  • Michele Wucker's professional evolution from journalism to becoming a global economic policy expert and the founder of Gray Rhino and Company.

  • The concept and significance of the "Gray Rhino" in risk management, and how Michele's diverse cultural experiences have shaped her approach to understanding and addressing global risks.

  • Her insights into the future of risk management, particularly the role of psychological safety in organisations and the importance of self-awareness for emerging risk leaders.

More about Michele Wucker


Michele Wucker is the founder of the Chicago-based advisory firm Gray Rhino and Company and the author of THE GRAY RHINO and its sequel, YOU ARE WHAT YOU RISK. Her work focuses on strategic advisory and global economic policies.


A former media and think tank executive drawing on decades of experience in global finance and economics, she works at the nexus of policy, behavioural science, and business strategy. Her approach is unique in that it integrates these diverse areas to provide comprehensive insights into risk management and decision-making.


Outside her professional life, Michele enjoys walking her dog along Lake Michigan, cooking, and engaging in creative and systems thinking activities. Her personal interests and experiences play a significant role in her approach to understanding and communicating complex risk management concepts.


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Find out more about Michele Wucker

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Summary of the interview with Michele Wucker on RiskMasters


Recently, on the RiskMasters podcast, Michele Wucker, a strategic advisor, global economic policy expert, and author, shared her insights on the concept of Gray Rhinos. Hosted by Julien Haye in collaboration with, this episode delves deep into the intricacies of navigating risks in both personal and professional realms.

Michele Wucker’s Background and Career Journey


Michele's journey is a fascinating blend of analytical rigor and spontaneous decision-making. Growing up in diverse cultural settings across the US and Europe, she developed an early knack for adapting to different environments. This ability later translated into her professional life, where she explored global economic policies and risk management strategies.

The Genesis of the Gray Rhino Concept


Michele introduced the concept of the 'Gray Rhino' as a metaphor for obvious but often neglected risks. Her inspiration came from her experiences in Latin American finance and her involvement in the Argentine debt crisis. The Gray Rhino represents high-impact, highly probable, yet neglected threats. Unlike 'Black Swans,' which are unexpected and rare, Gray Rhinos are predictable yet often ignored.

The Role of Gender


Addressing the gender dynamics in risk management, Michele reflected on her experiences and challenges as a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field. She emphasised the importance of diverse perspectives in decision-making and debunked the myth of women being risk-averse, advocating instead for the term 'risk-aware.'

Current Focus and Activities


Michele spends her time speaking at various forums, conducting workshops, and providing strategic advice on risk management. She is passionate about applying her knowledge to real-world scenarios, helping organisations navigate their “Gray Rhinos.”


The Pandemic


The COVID-19 pandemic, a quintessential Gray Rhino, highlighted the global unpreparedness for such crises despite prior warnings. Michele's work gained more relevance as it underscored the importance of recognising and acting upon these looming risks.

The Importance of Psychological Safety


A key aspect of Michele's approach is fostering psychological safety within organisations. This ensures a free flow of information and ideas, essential for recognising and addressing Gray Rhinos effectively.

The Future of Risk Management


Looking ahead, Michele sees a growing recognition of behavioural aspects in risk management, alongside traditional quantitative approaches. This holistic view is crucial for addressing operational risks in various industries.

Empowering Emerging Leaders


Michele's advice to emerging leaders centres on self-awareness. Understanding one's risk fingerprint - a combination of innate traits, experiences, and habits - is crucial in making informed risk-related decisions.


In summary, Michele Wucker's insights on the RiskMasters podcast provide a compelling perspective on risk management. Her concept of the Gray Rhino serves as a powerful tool for organizations and individuals alike, urging them to recognize and confront obvious yet overlooked risks. As we navigate an increasingly uncertain world, her wisdom on understanding and managing risks becomes ever more pertinent.


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