Emily Clemente is Senior Consultant at Castellan Solutions. She has a Bachelor of Science in Business Economics, Minor in Human Capital Management from Miami University of Ohio. She is also certified as AMBCI and with FEMA, on courses such as IS 120.c – An Introduction to Exercises and HSEEP – Homeland Security Exercise & Evaluation Program. In 2021 she was BCI Americas Newcomer of the year and CIR Newcomer of the year.
- How did you get into business continuity and resilience?
I joined the business continuity and resilience industry in the summer of 2018 when a friend introduced me to a summer internship offered by Avalution Consulting (now part of Castellan Solutions). At the time, I didn’t know anything about the business continuity industry or its importance. I spent 12 weeks that summer learning about the business continuity lifecycle from Avalution’s consultants and real life applications from my interactions with clients. I quickly fell in love with the rate at which this industry allowed me to learn and the value I experienced firsthand when we helped clients find and mitigate major risks. Since then, I have joined Avalution Consulting (now Castellan) full-time and have been working as a consultant in the industry since 2019.
- Do you feel the resilience industry supports rising professionals in the field?
As I am fairly new to the resilience industry myself, I do feel that the industry supports rising professionals! There is no shortage of organizations (e.g.: The BCI, DRI, CIR, etc.) that newcomers can join and engage with to learn more about best practices and the future of resilience. Many of these organizations have industry-recognized certifications you can achieve to gain an understanding of different methodologies and boost your credentials. There is also a significant amount of content for rising professionals to engage with, like blogs and podcasts, that are more accessible and cater to different learning styles more than traditional conferences and events. Further, the business continuity and resilience industry has an extremely active professional network, especially on LinkedIn.
- What will be the impact of digital processes and new software in the industry?
As business disruptions become more common, there is no longer an option to manage continuity and resilience activities manually. Software can provide so many benefits to a program, including program integration, reporting, automation, document control, compliance tracking, etc. One of the biggest problems I see with clients today is siloed management of key programs across an enterprise. Integration between business continuity, crisis management/incident management, IT disaster recovery, third party risk, and operational resilience programs is critical for an organization to understand its current resilience posture and response/recovery capability. Good software should allow organizations to do everything on one platform where data can be shared, and duplication of work is minimized. The introduction of new and improved tools alike will progress the business continuity industry more than ever before. Executives will have new and more advanced reporting allowing them to understand current capabilities and existing gaps in seconds. Teams will have one platform to manage all aspects of an event, ultimately decreasing confusion. Practitioners will save time tracking down teams for document approval with automated reminders. The potential impacts of digital tools and software are endless!
- What are the necessary skills for someone to get into business continuity and resilience?
There are many different skills that are important for professionals wanting to join the business continuity and resilience industry.
Some of the fundamental skills necessary in the industry include general administration skills, time management, and strong writing skills. As with any new position or job, administration skills like calendar management and meeting coordination are required as business continuity professionals are often meeting with, and even coordinating efforts among, stakeholders across the business. Time management is an increasingly important skill within the industry, especially when you have stakeholders or clients in different time zones. Finally, strong writing skills are essential as there are a variety of reports (e.g.: business impact analysis reports) and communications developed by business continuity professionals intended for executive leadership.
On the other hand, more advanced skills like strong soft skills, problem analysis/critical thinking, and project management are critical as you progress within the industry. Soft skills, including communication, listening, and facilitation, are necessary when engaging with different personalities and levels of leadership to ensure you get your point across to the team and use everyone’s time effectively. Problem analysis and critical thinking are also important because business continuity challenges often require a structured response. These challenges often require you to have a deep understanding of many different components, like current capabilities and organizational risk tolerance, to propose the right solution. Finally, project management skills are critical to succeed in the industry as business continuity is not a one-time activity, but rather recurring in nature. Regardless of the size of a business continuity program, requirements and capabilities need to be refreshed annually to ensure business changes are captured, which requires you to stay on task throughout the year.
- What advice would you give to newcomers?
There are two important pieces of advice I would give to newcomers in this industry:
- Look at every experience through a learning lens. It can often feel like you are drinking from the firehose in the business continuity world, however, I would encourage you to embrace it. When you hear a new term you don’t know, ask a professional. When you are nervous to lead a new type of meeting for the first time, ask someone with greater seniority to do a dry run and provide you with feedback, especially if you work as a consultant. Everything you encounter in this industry will contribute to your growth, whether it is formal or informal training, and you will be thankful you were open to the opportunity.
- Embrace ambiguity. As a newcomer in business continuity, or even just a professional in the corporate world, embracing ambiguity is the first step towards growth. You will encounter ambiguity in many forms, whether it is developing a new deliverable from scratch or creating a process to fill an existing gap within your organization, ambiguity will exist, and decisions will need to be made. Use your resources, but don’t be afraid to be creative.
Author: Gianluca Riglietti
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