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Working in Business Continuity

Published on October 01, 2018

We chatted with our very own Risk and Resilience Analysts, Donna Maclellan (DM) and (AQ) Aimee Quinn, to find out how they came to work in Business Continuity after leaving University.

What did you study at University?

DM: I studied Risk Management at Glasgow Caledonian University.

AQ: Like Donna, I also studied Risk Management at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Why did you decide to study Risk Management?

DM: I decided to study Risk Management as the course covered a range of subjects which allowed you to explore different areas of risk and determine what suited you best for a potential career choice. Also, risk is something that companies always have (to an extent) and will always need to manage therefore I believe it is a degree that will always be relevant along with industry experience.

AQ: I discovered Risk Management by chance, to me it was a completely new discipline and that intrigued me. Once I found out I could tailor my studies to focus on Financial Risk it seemed like an opportunity too good to miss.

When were you first exposed to Business Continuity as a career choice?

DM: In my third year of university I covered Business Continuity as a subject. This highlighted how important Business Continuity is and allowed me to realise the career potentials in this field. It was at this point I began looking into possible careers in Business Continuity.

AQ: I wanted to try something different and elected to do a Business Continuity module whilst at university. I really enjoyed it and that summer I did an Internship in Asset Management where I was fortunate enough to spend time with the Resilience Team, and attend an emergency planning scenario exercise. It inspired me to write my Dissertation on Business Continuity and it was following that I realised I wanted to pursue this as a career.

What type of jobs were you looking for after graduation?

DM: I was looking for both entry-level and graduate jobs. I either wanted to focus on Business continuity or Insurance as these were the two subjects I was most interested in at university.

AQ: I knew I wanted a career in Business Continuity and get my foot in the door as early as possible. Entry level jobs in Business Continuity are few and far between so I was very grateful when I found my current employer.

What does resilience mean to you?

DM: The ability to deal with disruptions in a way that minimises the negative impact to a business.

AQ: The ability to recover from disruptions as effectively as possible.

Did your studies make you aware of the technology challenges Business Continuity faces today?

DM: My studies touched on this a little, although through working in Business Continuity and using BCM Software I have realised just how much more businesses rely on technology. If their systems were to fail in any way it would have a major impact on most organizations.

AQ: Although this subject was repeatedly echoed throughout my studies, it wasn't until I started in my current job that I realised the magnitude of these challenges and the impact they have on organisations today.

Was there enough awareness given to the importance of emergency planning in organizations?

DM: Emergency planning was particularly focused on within the Business Continuity module, however within other modules other risk mitigation techniques such as insurance and transfer of risk were more greatly emphasised.

AQ: As I mainly focused on financial risk during my time at university, emergency planning wasn’t my main focus. However, the Business Continuity Module and my Dissertation research stressed this.

Why do you think resilience is so important in today’s changing society?

DM: Organisational resilience is so important as it allows an organization to manage its recovery and continue operations. Nowadays businesses cannot afford to stop operations for a significant period of time due to increase in competitors and the use of technology. Customers can quickly find alternatives to most products/services a business is offering.

It is very important to be proactive rather than reactive. The speed at which incidents escalate is constantly increasing due to technology etc. Often, an incident is displayed on social media before it is officially reported within the business. It is essential to react fast no matter what the disruption to minimise any reputation damage to the business.

AQ: I believe at a time were change happens quicker than ever, whether it be advances in technology, changes in industry or regulation, being resilient is extremely important. The environment is more competitive and businesses are becoming increasingly reliant on technology therefore its important to be prepared. The rise of social media also puts pressure on organisations to respond to disruption quicker, and increases their chance of brand/reputation damage.

In the BCI's 2018 Horizon scan research reported Cyber Attacks were documented as the top threat, what do you perceive as the biggest industry threat graduates will face in the next 10 years?

DM: Cyber-attacks, I believe, will continue to be the biggest industry threat. I believe all organizations must have appropriate measures in place to mitigate the risk of an unauthorised person accessing their system as this can majorly damage the reputation of an organization.

AQ: I think cyber attacks will continue to dominate industry threats over the next decade. The further technology advances, the more we become dependant upon it which in turn creates a weakness. Organisations should be regularly updating their contingencies in line with these advancements and prepare appropriately.

Do you have any real-life resilience experience that you wish to share?

DM: One of our clients had a third-party call centre party that went down and they could not get onto relevant systems. They were relocated to a recovery centre which was manned by myself and a colleague. We were able to establish calls and allow this third party to continue operations.

AQ: I have been involved in client incidents which have involved relocation to Recovery sites. During these times I was there to provide set up support as well as ongoing support throughout the incident. I have also provided assistance during tragic events in London last year, Hurricane Irma and during the various bad weather incidents experienced earlier this year in the UK.