A day in the life: Cheyene Marling

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Cheyene Marling is a Global Thought Contributor, specializing in careers, hiring & data research in business continuity and resilience. She has over 20 years of experience in the industry, where she helps companies find the right talent to develop their business continuity management programmes. She is Management Director at Talent Management & Program Analytics and a lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She is a thought leader and a significant contributor in the advancement of research in her field. She agreed to talk to About Resilience regarding her experience in the business continuity and resilience industry.

How did you get into Business Continuity and Resilience industry?

Like many others, I had no idea what business continuity/resiliency planning was until I started recruiting for one of my largest clients, Comdisco, back in 1998 (Y2K days).  I was immediately enthralled with the profession!  My candidates were so passionate about their roles, responding to events, and keeping their organizations resilient.  Shortly thereafter I decided to start a company to be focused exclusively on global business continuity recruitment.

What do you like most about your job? How about the most challenging?

There are so many aspects of my role that I enjoy.  I love sharing thought leadership and trending analytics.  To me it’s fascinating how much the profession has evolved over 2 decades.  There is also quite a bit of satisfaction in helping organizations find that top talent candidate to champion their program forward as well as helping professionals find their dream job.  I also have the opportunity to coach professionals through career choices.  I really feel fortunate to enjoy so many aspects of my role.

The only challenging piece is staying ahead of the curve and being relevant….  Predicting what is coming next around the corner.  I’m kind of a data geek so I rely a lot of the data we collect, and a gut feel on where the profession is moving.  It’s also challenging to provide career advice without a thorough assessment, meaning that not everyone is the same.  It really takes a 1-on-1 dialogue to understand what drives someone, what are they passionate about, what are their career goals, and what career trajectory will align best with their personal life.

What skill sets do you think are essential in this line of work?

A wide array of soft skills is crucial in business continuity planning.  Our hiring managers are seeking professionals with a keen awareness of emotional intelligence, ability to pivot and be a change agent, a deep understanding of situational awareness, a conceptual thinker for program strategy design, and a genuine passion/ commitment to the program.  Our clients also seek champions.  Someone to champion the program forward.  I want to stress that a champion can be at any level, though.  You do not need to be a senior leader to be champion.  Additionally, you must be calm under pressure.  All eyes are on you when activating a program in response to an event.

In the recent report that you’ve recently released – BCM Trends Report, it was described how business continuity and resilience programs have advanced over the past 10 years. Looking forward, how do you see industry 10 years from now?

Oh how I wish I had a crystal ball…  Our data and conversations with our clients are pointing to increased convergence with security and risk management.  Professionals within business continuity must diversify themselves and broaden their skill set into crisis management, cyber resiliency, supplier resiliency, and operational risk management.   It is an enterprise driven program after all.  I’m not painting a brush that business continuity disappears, but that in growing one’s career you need to look outside of the box to where business continuity may report to within an organization and expand upon your competencies to stay marketable.

Any advice to young professionals who have just started or interested to join the field?

Get out there and network and learn from others.  Find a mentor who can coach you.  Step outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself.  You do not need to wait until you have 10+ years’ experience to give presentations, write articles, or serve on a board for an industry related association.  Our profession is seeking new professionals to step up and take leadership roles.

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