Like many people who work in Business Continuity, I didn’t enter the professional world with the intention of becoming a part of this niche industry. For the past 10 years I worked in public education as a Social Studies teacher, which at the beginning of my career, I thought I would do until retirement. However, as life rarely goes to plan, my mindset began to change as I developed a desire for a new career path, and I began to investigate other job fields where my skills from teaching would carry over. After a year-long search, I came across a company called BC in the Cloud which provided business continuity and disaster recovery planning software to other businesses. I believe my response to that was, “Oh cool…what is business continuity and disaster recovery?” After an explanation and some research, I found myself with two major trepidations about taking this career jump. The first concern was whether this career path offered the internal reward of helping other people that I would be giving up by leaving teaching. The other major concern I had was whether I possessed the knowledge and/or skill set necessary to be successful in this field.
Needless to say I took that career jump and surprisingly, in the short amount of time that I have been with BC in the Cloud, I believe these concerns have already been alleviated. This new position has shown me the humanization and altruistic intentions of the field of business continuity. By helping businesses to plan and mitigate humans, resources, and financial losses during incidents, it is important to remember that we are helping these companies to protect their people and the business, so they can ultimately continue to grow and provide jobs. When I think about the cities where major businesses have incurred massive losses due to an incident forcing them to shut down, and the impact that has on the people who live there, I see the real importance of helping these businesses protect themselves and the value of business continuity.
When I first started at BC in the Cloud, I admit I had reservations about whether I was qualified to work in this industry. I had very little experience working in business, and I didn’t have any formal business education, let alone formal education in business continuity (in other words, on paper I am not qualified). This did not become evident to me until I came across the packing list of the items in my backpack from a school trip I chaperoned to Costa Rica. On that list I had both a plugin and portable phone charger along with extra batteries for my camera providing redundancy in my power sources. One pocket acted as my personal pharmacy filled with pain, cold, stomach, and allergy medications. I also had hand sanitizer, bandages, and gauze in case there were any injuries, aloe gel for sunburn, bug bites, or plant allergies, and a snakebite kit on the small chance someone had a run-in with a venomous snake. I believe in the BC industry, we would refer to that as a “Black Swan” event. I also had some rolled-up toilet paper in there in case someone had a bathroom emergency while on a hike. Laugh at that if you’d like, but at one point one of my students was very thankful I had it. I had another pocket designated for important documents. In my wallet, held two forms of photo identification, my credit cards, boarding passes, etc., but in this pocket were photocopies of all these documents in case any of the originals were lost or stolen. I also had a second set of photocopies that I left at home with my parents in the event that I misplaced everything and needed help from someone back home. Unbeknownst to me, I already had a handle on geographic diversity within the redundancy of my records. The finishing touches were the twisty ties to bind my zippers together. This was to protect my belongings from pick-pocketers and curious Capuchin monkeys who are known to rummage through unattended bags. As I analyzed my packing list, it appeared that I was already doing risk assessments, categorizing my risks, and implementing mitigating factors before I had any experience in BC.
In my short amount of time here with BC in the Cloud I have learned a lot about business continuity. As my knowledge base has grown, I am pleased to say that my initial concerns over this career change have been relieved. It is reassuring that after giving up my role as a teacher, I have found a new role where I can still feel like I am contributing to the greater good. I am also encouraged by the fact that my personal experiences as a traveler have equipped me with a mindset for preparedness, that as it turns out, is a good fit for working in business continuity.