A day in the life: Michele L. Turner

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This article features an interview with Michele L. Turner, MBCP, FBCI, CISA, CRISC, CCRP. She is an author and resiliency leader with close to 30 years of experience in the areas of Governance, Risk, and Compliance. Michele has a Master’s of Science degree in Business Continuity from Norwich University, and is currently the Head of Global Business Resiliency for Amazon.

Turner is an international speaker on the topic of Business Continuity, Risk Management, and related areas. She is a requested guest lecturer at the University of Washington, on such topics as Cyber Security and Operational Risk, and a Course Instructor and Board Director for Disaster Recovery Institute International (DRII) and Foundation. She is on the board of the Seattle Public Library Foundation, as well as the Advisory Council of the Homeland Security Emergency Management – Center of Excellence.

We have read in one of your interviews how you accidentally started in the BC and Resilience field, can you share with us what attracts you to stay in the industry for almost 3 decades?

Business Continuity, and Resilience for that matter, is multi-faceted. It’s this dynamic that keeps me going. Focusing on critical function identification, notification to support restoration or continuity, building of programs to support organizational sustainability… this is one aspect. Drilling down on technology, the redundancy or the need to recover applications and systems with high availability requirements is another. Never a dull moment!

You have recently published a book entitled —  Lessons Learned: Short Stories of Continuity and Resilience. The book was said to be a collection of your personal lessons intertwined with your professional stories. With the multiple hats that women wear like you, how do you find the harmony and balance between your work and life’s other roles?

Great question, the answer is… I don’t seek the balance. Harmony or integration is the key for me. When I attempted to balance/juggle all, it set a false expectation that all could be done all at once, and it led to overloading myself. All can be done, just not at one time.

The book shares personal stories with both personal and business lessons learned aligned to a methodology that I developed – PARSE (Prepare, Assess, Remediate, Sustain, Examine). In life, we are constantly parsing info, and prioritizing. Creating harmony between work and business using this central framework has helped me to approach things with a common theme and thread, acknowledging business and personal needs, with family as my priority.

How important is diversity and gender equality in the BC space?

This is critical. I look at this focus in three related aspects: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. With Diversity, be it gender, ethnicity, or other, we need to represent the space in a manner that is reflective of society. Society is ALL. I see this as a mosaic vs. a “melting pot” as sometimes noted. A mosaic shows that ALL can come and bring their individual best ideas to the table to form a more informed picture, vs. having to meld all together and lose the beauty of the individual voice.

To stick with the artistic analogy, from an inclusion perspective, it’s great to be “invited to the painting party”, but am I being given the same paintbrushes, tools, sturdy easels, as all others – this is equity. We need different perspectives to continue to evolve the focus, the collection as it were. Diversity is key.

Any advice for young professionals who are interested to join in or have recently started in the industry?

Network, Speak-Up, Dig in – Engaging with those in the industry that have “been there, done that” does a couple of things:

  1. gives you insights on areas that you may need to build out or gain information on;
  2. gives “us” an opportunity to stay engaged in things that you may be seeing with fresh eyes.

This ties directly into speaking up. You have so much to share, but keeping this all in your mind does not communicate the influence and impact that you could have on the industry. Do your homework, and once done, trust yourself to speak up! And lastly, dig in. This area is one that is never ending. The path and opportunities will continue to be available. Continue to dig, expand your skillsets based on potential dependencies (risk, governance, technology, cybersecurity, etc.). You have so much to offer, you are so valued.

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