Bethany Warren is a Senior Resilience Consultant working at Marsh Advisory, focusing on Business Continuity and Organisational Resilience. She is an Associate Member of the Business Continuity Institute (AMBCI) and a qualified Lead Implementer for ISO22301:2019. She also has a degree in Psychology and a Master in Occupational Psychology, with a particular interest in employee welfare and the human aspects of a crisis. Her passions include organisational culture, leadership, employee engagement and workplace psychology. She was CIR Business Continuity Newcomer of the year 2020 and she is a Committee Member of the BCI Women in Resilience.
1. How did you get into the business continuity profession?
Like most I fell into the business continuity profession by accident and before joining the industry I did not know it existed! During my university studies I worked for a major high-street bank. Reflecting on my experiences there, I was performing risk management in my day-to-day job but I just did not know it yet! During University I studied Psychology and went on to study Occupational Psychology for my Master, because of this I have always been fascinated in ‘resilience’ and how we can experience adverse life events and bounce back, adapt and come back stronger. While my job nowadays focuses on building an organisations resilience to disruptive events, personal resilience definitely comes into play as it is our people we are really relying on during these times of hardship.
2. As an ISO 22301:2019 Lead Implementer, could you tell us about the role of standards in supporting organizations in the past two years?
As a consultant, I am definitely seeing more organisations wanting to align to the ISO 22301 Business Continuity Standard. While the appetite for certifying is not there for all businesses, it is a great framework to design your business continuity management system around. Being certified demonstrates to customers and key stakeholders that your business is actively working towards being more resilient and this is especially important in today’s ever changing risk landscape. No matter what client I am working with, I will always aim to align documentation and processes to some degree to ISO 22301 and use this as a baseline so certification at a later date is always an option.
I typically see that most clients (depending on the industry) are already certified or aligning to other management standards such as ISO 14001 Environmental Management and ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems. Due to its Annex SL standard, the format of most ISO standards is now standardised. This means that if your organisation is already certified or working towards other ISO Standards you do not need to reinvent the wheel. Utilise what is already working and in place for your other standards and create efficiencies to simplify implementation.
3. You are part of the BCI Women in Resilience initiative. Based on your work with WiR, how would you rate our industry’s commitment to diversity and inclusion?
Like most industries, there is still a long way to go. The Women in Resilience group are currently the only Diversity and Inclusion volunteer group within the BCI. Speaking from experience, I joined the industry when the Women in Resilience initiative was just starting out and I found it incredibly helpful as it is a great platform to connect with others within the industry and empower, support and spotlight women’s talents. The work being completed within the Women in Resilience initiative aims to pave the way for the future state of where we need to be to encourage more women into the industry, but more needs to be done, especially for other minority groups.
Diversity and inclusion shouldn’t just be seen as a tick box exercise. It’s important that we educate each other on the reasons why it’s important and it vast benefits, it drives employees engagement, helps to eliminate group think, and enhances innovation and problem solving and so much more.
To move forward, board level and top management need to be more representative of the workforce and organisations need to take ownership; however, we all have a role to play. If we have a privilege, we need to actively ally with those from minority groups and those from minority groups need to actively take action.
4. It is interesting to see that you have a background in Occupational Psychology. How does this support you with your work in business continuity and resilience?
Business continuity and resilience professionals are unable to do their job effectively without engagement from people and people are the crux of what Occupational Psychology is about. It involves the study of human behaviour within the workplace and while not directly linked to business continuity and resilience, it has massively helped me have a deeper understanding of people and behaviour and assisted me in implementing BCM programmes into organisations. It also taught me a lot regarding leadership and culture.
Being a consultant, I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to work with various clients across different industry sectors from across the globe. Something that was poignant for me when visiting client sites was that if top management were pushing for business continuity and resilience, and there was a true understanding of the value behind the work, the whole organisation did too. This helped shape organizational culture and make staff more risk aware.
A big part of being a consultant is to make business continuity and resilience interesting and relevant at all layers of the organisation. My master’s helped me develop training programmes with the end user in mind. It has also helped me understand change management and how to engage employees to be part of the change rather than imposing change upon them – it makes such a difference!
5. What tips would you give to newcomers to the industry?
- Take every opportunity that comes your way. Sometimes an opportunity may come up that you do not feel 100% ready for, my advice is to always go for it and treat it as a learning experience. The opportunity may never come your way again!
- At times you will fail, do not let this deter you from achieving your goals. Failure is normal and key for learning. It is much better to try and fail than never try and never know!
- Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Do not wait for opportunities to come to you, create them for yourself! There are so many areas within the industry and the BCI that anyone can get involved with, it is down to you to take action.
- Always continue to learn and develop yourself. The CBCI is a good starting point. I also recommend attending industry events and networking to get your name out there. Do not be afraid to approach people at these!
- Finally, enjoy being a newcomer! Soak up every bit of information you can, ask as many questions as possible and immerse yourself into the industry. This industry is full of possibility, and we all have the opportunity to make a positive change and leave a legacy.
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Author: Gianluca Riglietti