Earthquake Catches Many Off Guard – And Unprepared – After 25-Year Quake “Drought”

27 08 2014

Now that the dust has settled from Sunday morning’s earthquake northeast of San Francisco – the area’s largest quake since Loma Prieta in 1989 – it’s becoming apparent that although ‘only’ 200 or so people were hurt, there’s far more minor to moderate damage than can be seen from a news chopper.  Even some of the older residents who remember further back seem to have been caught by surprise at the amount of seemingly superficial damage that’s leading to so many structures, including those that house companies, being red-tagged.

Props to PG&E which quickly restored power to most of the 70,000 residents who lost it after the quake and the natural gas infrastructure evidently came through it without a hitch.  Losing power is a major hassle but not terrible considering the region’s usually comfortable nighttime temperatures; many homes in that part of the country don’t even have air conditioning.  But water is a different and far more substantial issue.  Water service still hasn’t been  restored for up to for up to 600 homes.  Napa’s lifeblood is tourism and I’m wondering how many restaurants and other tourist-centered businesses are without water and still unable to operate.

the-big-oneI’ve been in two earthquakes: a noticeable but not major quake in the Los Angeles area in 1970 (not the much larger one in 1971) and the August 8, 1989 foreshock of Loma Prieta.  Services were not substantially interrupted as a result of either of the ones I experienced but each earthquake was still a mind-bending experience.  Both of the different families I was staying with had backup supplies, including substantial amounts of potable water, which was kind of unusual in 1989 and considered almost an oddity in 1970.  The residents of Napa who don’t have water service right now are getting their drinking and cooking water from joint city and Red Cross water stations and the restaurants and other businesses will probably recover if service is restored quickly.

What concerns me is the “surprised” attitude of so many of the affected people.

Even some of the continuity experts in the region were affected by the quake.  And remember, quakes aren’t even near the top of naturally occurring events that can have an impact on business continuity (although that article’s suggested prep checklist fails to mention one of the single most important aspects of thorough preparedness).

So we get yet another reminder about why it’s so very important to be prepared.  Thoroughness and diligence are essential for business continuity plans to work, even (and particularly) on a personal level, especially in areas of the world that are always at risk for severe natural events to have a negative impact.  Even if it’s been a long time since the last “big one.”

Am I preaching to the choir?  Perhaps.  But rather than just add another page to our songbook, let’s use this event to remind ourselves – and our organizations – of how critical it is to be ready for crunch time regardless of the reason for crunch, especially if there’s been a long drought since the last one.

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Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or to find out about a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.





Think Your Business Continuity Job is Hard? Not After You See What This Guy’s Responsible For

22 08 2014

Last week we went on the Sam Houston Boat Tour of the Port of Houston and it was a kick.  Educational, too.  The outing was part of the monthly meeting of the South Texas Chapter of the Association of Contingency Planners and I learned a lot more than I had, um, planned to.

That I’m a native Houstonian and did not take this tour for the first time until last week is more than a little embarrassing because the Port of Houston is such a massive, integral and beneficial part of this city and the entire country.  In fact, it’s the reason the city exists at all.

Part of the South Texas ACP crew on the bow of the M/V Sam Houston. Click to enlarge.

Part of the South Texas ACP crew on the bow of the M/V Sam Houston. Click to enlarge.

The original port of record for the Texas Gulf Coast was Galveston but the devastating hurricane of 1900 rewrote history and the need for a more sheltered port further up into Galveston Bay was realized by shipping companies, merchants and travelers.  Today the Port of Houston is the busiest foreign tonnage port in the U.S. – it would be the biggest domestic tonnage port, too, except that New Orleans gets the boost from all of the river traffic – and the thirteenth largest in the world.  The number of direct and indirect jobs related to the Port is astounding (hint: it’s north of a million) but you can read all the mind-blowing facts here.

So how’d you like to be the guy who makes sure it all flows smoothly, safely and efficiently?

Meet Capt. Marcus Woodring, CEM, TEM, a 27-year veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard and now the Managing Director of Health, Safety, Security and Emergency Management for the Port of Houston Authority, the governing body responsible for the Port’s operations, growth and development.  To get an idea of the scope of Capt. Woodring’s scope of responsibility, take a look at this stunning 2 ½-minute time-lapse video of a tanker’s night departure Gulf-bound from the head of the Houston Ship Channel not too far from where the boat tour launches.

Granted, not all of the real estate shown in the video is the Port of Houston but most of the first two minutes of it is.  Luckily Capt. Woodring has fairly ample resources to wield in order to keep the continuity lid on the Port including a fairly large Port jurisdictional police department, an impressive fire department staffed 100% by marine-rated firefighters who have to endure an annual recertification test that you wouldn’t believe, three brand new high-speed, high-volume fireboats and a surveillance network that would make James Bond reconsider.

My not very good photo of Capt. Woodring with the overview.

My not very good photo of Capt. Woodring with the overview.

After the boat tour, Capt. Woodring was nice enough to give us a half-hour description over lunch not only of the responsibilities of the various departments he oversees but also a few behind-the-scenes stories.  For instance, they spend a huge percentage of time each year engaged in various training scenarios.  And international incidents such as stowaway occurrences are surprisingly rare.  But it’s still an interesting place to do business: among the 30+ arrests on Port property year-to-date were two rap musicians who were using – obviously without permission – a drone to shoot footage of the Port for their latest video.  They accidentally crashed it into a berthed Chinese cargo ship.  Oops.

All that responsibility and yet I left more reassured than ever that all the bases are covered as far as safety and security at the Port.  Woodring and his staff are an experienced, well-trained and extremely confident bunch.  Not action-movie ‘confident’ but genuine, steely-eyed confident about what they do, what the potential threats are and how they manage and prevent them 24/7.

I can think of a few places and organizations where an airtight business continuity plan might be as important but none where it might be more important.  I’ve only been in the profession for 8 years but I’ve seen lots of continuity checklists and most of those contain perhaps two or three dozen items on them.  And a well-honed list of trigger points (in the event of an anticipated calamity such as an approaching hurricane) usually only has a dozen or so action items.  I would imagine, however, that Capt. Woodring and his staff have created, maintain and constantly tweak their much larger lists and that they probably even have one or more checklists that just list all of the other checklists to cover the possibility of fire, explosions, medical assistance and transport, aviation issues, ecological concerns, legal issues, international personnel issues, collisions both on and offshore, spills, leaks, the potential for terrorism, inclement and possibly destructive weather . . . even contingencies for multiple but different types of events occurring simultaneously.  It flat out makes your head spin.

A small section of the Port of Houston.  Photo: Port of Houston Authority

A small section of the Port of Houston. Photo: Port of Houston Authority

One of the most interesting topics he covered in his presentation is the sheer geographical expanse that his teams have to cover and prepare for.  The Port Authority owns and operates nine distinct operations centers which are spread out over an area that’s 25 miles long and are all in motion every moment of every single day.  It makes me wonder why they’ve never made what goes on there into its own reality TV series.

Incidentally, the boat tour is free, only lasts 90 minutes and departs twice a day Wednesday through Sunday.  The next time you’re in the neighborhood, look into it.

Interested in learning more about how they manage business continuity at the Port of Houston?  Let us know in the comments section and I’ll see what we can do about getting Capt. Woodring to share more in a webinar about their operations and what he’s learned in the three years since he’s been there.

 


 

webinar-ACPIn other news, we posted the ACP Webinar Series presentation on our YouTube channel that Continuity Housing principal Michelle Lowther made last week entitled “Securing Guaranteed Hotel Rooms For Your Organization In a Deployment – Case Studies” and you can access it here.  Feel free to share it with anyone you think might be interested.

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Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or to find out about a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.

 





“When I Grow Up, I Want To Be In Business Continuity Management!”

14 08 2014

improvisation“You do what?”  That’s what most of us hear so often when someone asks us what we do for a living.  Dedicated business continuity as a profession is still in its infancy and it still gets a lot of quizzical stares when you talk about it, similar to what IT professionals used to experience in the mid ‘80’s.  “Wait, you mean that’s an actual job?”

So what IS a nice person like you doing in a place this anyway?  Did you know you’d end up on call all the time and working almost 24/7 during some future employers’ crises?  Very few of us actually planned on being in this industry when we were younger.  Sure, maybe we obtained degrees in business or project management and/or have a BC-style background in the military.  But very few of us, even several years into our business careers, were aiming at working in BC or even knew it existed.

I certainly didn’t until an organization I used to work for created a BC division to help their clients.  Once I learned about it, I was all in.  The very concept fascinates me: pre-planned, tested activities that help keep companies strong even if they’re dealt what would previously would have been a mortal blow.  And keeping everybody employed!  Crazy.  And now that I’m here, I’m here to stay.

My education and overall background are in marketing but I come from a restaurant family so we’ve always been involved in hospitality one way or another.  And that’s how I look at business continuity – making sure people are taken care of.  BC takes it a step further, though.  It’s taking care of people as well as possible when they need it the most.  And, more importantly, when their organizations need them to be performing at their best.

shareSo we practice, improve, evolve and always learn from our mistakes.  But the most important thing we can do is pass along what we know.  Mentorship is important in any industry and, just like we once were, there are always new, less informed folks coming in.  I remember my first light bulb moment when I realized not only that business continuity existed but that it was an essential business tool.  I was touring a popular FBO at an airport in the Orlando area and the owner showed me the way they sheltered their backup generator – on a trailer to get it out in the open within moments when they need to operate it – and their backup supplies to keep the business running when the next hurricane hit.  “You think general aviation isn’t pretty important to keep in business after a bad hurricane?” she asked me.  Almost 8 years later I got a big kick out of taking a much younger new coworker to the same place to show her how they prepared for interruptions.  I still remember the “Ohhhhh!” look on her face.

Especially those who have no idea what we do.

So what about you?  How DID a nice person like you end up in a place like this?  Tell us below.

***

Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or to find out about a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.

 





Two Reasons for BC Professionals to Join the Association of Contingency Planners: Better Results For You and More Money (Also For You)

24 07 2014

I’m probably a little shy of the age (that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!) when I can use phrases like “back in the day” but I don’t remember there ever being so very many options for different industry organizations to join.  I remember groups like the American Institute of Architects and the American Medical Association – old school professional organizations that seem to have been around for eons.  Now, however, and especially with the explosion of activity on LinkedIn, there seem to be half a dozen DONT-KEEP-SECRETSprofessional organizations for every industry, sub-industry, niche profession and one-of-a-kind vocation on the planet.  If you’re a left-handed pediatric veterinary cosmetic micro-surgeon, there’s a place for you.  The dilemma we sometimes face now: too many options.  But for BC pros, the Association of Contingency Planners makes it an easy choice.

Naturally the Association provides a number of excellent reasons for joining but for me it boils down to a single reason: opportunity.  Or maybe two single reasons: opportunity that leads to more money earned and more money saved by our clients.  Then there are the opportunities for education, networking and enhancement of my company’s BC and DR plans and suddenly, joining up makes a whole lot of sense. Annual dues (just $125) are pro-rated monthly so if you join this month you only have to pay for the rest of this year.  It’s a bargain.  Full disclosure: I don’t work for ACP in any capacity but Continuity Housing is indeed working with the Association in order to re-introduce their popular and free webinar series for its members.

[Speaking of which . . . the first of the webinar series will be "Securing Guaranteed Hotel Rooms For Your Organization In a Deployment: A Tale of Two Companies (Case Studies)" on Tuesday, August 12th at 10:30 Central presented by yours truly.  There are more than 60 negotiable terms in a hotel’s group booking contract, and this session will equip you with creative, unique ways to craft those contracts to your organization’s best advantage to fit the unique aspects of a crisis management booking.  Find out more and register for this free, fast-paced, 45-minute webinar here.]

So what’s the ROI on joining the ACP?  Results will vary depending on your level of commitment but let’s take a little field trip across the last eight years of my professional life:

  • 2006: I created Continuity Housing’s patent-pending program to guarantee companies hotel rooms on a contingency basis without having to pay an arm and a leg for them.
  • 2009: I joined ACP. (Should’ve joined earlier.)
    • Which begat a presentation I made to a local chapter about avoiding the pitfalls of securing guaranteed housing for critical personnel in the event of a disaster and/or a business interruption.
    • Which led to me being asked to present similar material to other chapters.
    • Which resulted in me getting to meet ImpactWeather’s business continuity team managed by Ed Schlichtenmyer and, at that time, Mike Thomson who asked me to present not once but twice at the company’s annual Hurricane Symposium.
    • Which in turn introduced me to Ed Goldberg enabling me to present in a number of the original ACP Webinar Series which started in 2011.
    • Which fomented (I’m running out of terms that mean “which led to”) a continuing series of invitations for me to make presentations at national industry conferences hosted by Continuity Insights, EEI, ACP and CPM – as well as the webinar next month for ACP (we posted about that this past Wednesday) and presentations to local ACP chapters in CA, CT, FL, MA, NY, TX and WA.
    • And they told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on… (Click here if you’re too young to understand that reference.)
  • And all along the way and with increasing frequency, Continuity Housing has been exposed to more opportunities. And by opportunities, I mean contracts.  And by contracts, I mean revenue.

Also as a direct result of my membership, I got one degree closer to Kevin Bacon.  Just kidding.  Although that would be awesome and I encourage you to check out The Following some week.

And no, it’s not all, or even mostly, about the monetary gain.  It’s the less tangible bennies that keep me coming back to ACP.

acp-webinars-awesomeOne of the Continuity Housing team members goes fairly far offshore to fish from time to time and more than once in the past he’s told me about the informal but rigidly obeyed tradition of mariners helping each other out whenever a nearby crew or their boat is in trouble and that the entire BC community acts in much the same way.  We don’t keep secrets.  We share what we learn so that we all get better at what we do and learn new ways to keep even more people more efficiently out of harm’s way.  In fact, we attended a gathering the week before last hosted by the South Texas Chapter (see photo) and had a great time learning some new things, making some new connections and reconnections and hearing about what’s next, which for this particular chapter is a  very cool 90-minute boat tour of the Port of Houston in mid-August before the monthly chapter meeting and lunch.

So that’s what you get out of the ACP.  An engaged, devoted community, new approaches, better results.  And that’s the real benefit.

The best looking, most interesting ACP local chapter in America.  Click to enlarge.

The best looking, most interesting ACP local chapter in America. Click to enlarge.

For more information – including where your nearest chapter meets – visit the ACP website and click on the Membership tab at the top.

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Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or to find out about a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.





Return of the Association of Contingency Planners Webinar Series: Just in Time for Wildfire and Tropical Storm Season

16 07 2014

ACP-logo-onlyThe extremely popular webinar series hosted by the Association of Contingency Planners debuted in 2009 with the goal of providing interesting and genuinely educational (read: “not a sales pitch”) free webinars to members – and hopefully future members – on a monthly basis.  Since that time, thousands of people have attended the dozens of webinars and the response has always been extremely positive.  And by “extremely positive,” I seem to remember a total of about 3 or 4 attendees indicating in the post-webinar surveys that they found the webinars to be less than good or great and the majority of the respondents rated the content as excellent.

not-roteWe’re proud to announce that Continuity Housing will begin sponsoring the resurrected series when it returns on Tuesday, August 12th.  Personally I’m elated because I produced and often emceed the series every month for more than two years after it first started and I really and truly get a kick out of sharing valuable continuity and general knowledge information with people.  (A perfect example.)

Understand this:  these are not rote presentations of dry material, checklists or procedures.  You will find yourself at many if not most of them with that “Wow, I did not know that” feeling.  And they are very definitely not sales pitches . . . well, except for about a 20-second reminder of who the sponsor is.   On purpose we tend to keep the webinars on the short side of 25 to 45 minutes and we always host them mid-morning on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday so they’re easy to catch, although we will always provide the recorded versions of each one on both the ACP site and on the Continuity Housing YouTube channel.

register-button

Granted, my enthusiasm for next month’s webinar may have a slight bias to it but it’s a perfect learning opportunity for anyone involved with a potential continuity deployment for their company.  The title of the webinar is “Securing Guaranteed Hotel Rooms For Your Organization In a Deployment: A Tale of Two Companies” and it’s a gritty review of the specific lessons learned by two different companies that chose two very different housing management plans before the Spam hit the fan.  A few details from the webinar description: “This is not an abstract session. Instead, you’ll learn the exact steps taken with regard to housing by these two large corporations and we’ll discuss what worked and what didn’t. There are more than 60 negotiable terms in a hotel’s group booking contract, and this session will equip you with creative, unique ways to craft those contracts to your organization’s best advantage to fit the unique aspects of a crisis management booking. ”

With Q&A the webinar will run about 45 minutes, the presenter is Continuity Housing principal Michelle Lowther and you can register here.

I’ve known and worked with Michelle for almost 4 years and she’s an excellent presenter.  More than that, I respect both her and the value of the content of her presentations.  She doesn’t ever waste your time.  Ever.

Register now and we’ll see you on the 12th.  Almost as importantly send me your ideas for future webinars.  We like to keep them in the realm of BC/DR but I’d be happy to field any suggestions that help make all of us better planners, more valuable contributors to our organizations and better, more productive folks in general.

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Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or to find out about a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.





Attention! Free Stuff! (Well, Mostly…) Handy Links to Info and Apps for Business Continuity and Life in General

1 07 2014

Seven years after Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, we’re all securely addicted to having a world of information in our pockets.  Even when there’s not an app per se for different services, the latest step in the evolution of smart phones is mobile versions of websites, so I just save them as bookmarks on the desktop of my phone.  As BC professionals, we must be able to quickly manifest and distill pertinent information to help our stakeholders make crucial decisions during a crisis.  My goal with this piece is to include not only the obvious and most logical apps and links but to get you to think of how you can use different resources in different ways than you have before.

It pains me that we live in a time when I have to start by saying that Continuity Housing does not endorse, recommend or vouch for the accuracy or validity of the following services yadda yadda.  Sheesh.

Disclaimer #2: the more regional links provided here are for those of us in the Houston area, since that’s where Continuity Housing is based.  Okay – on to the really important stuff.

go-take-a-classFirst and foremost, a variety of regional utility providers now offer mobile versions of their outage maps, some of which include estimates on when power will be restored to specific areas.  Check your organization’s provider to see if they have one.  If they don’t, ask them why.

There are a variety of free and fairly reliable weather sources including JustWeather (website) and WeatherBug (website and app), some of which allow you to customize the automatically pushed alerts based on time of day and type and severity of threat(s), although JustWeather’s coverage is currently limited to a small number of cities.  Your local TV stations might also provide free or inexpensive weather apps that are more attuned, and therefore probably more accurate, to your more immediate location.  I prefer the AccuWeather  version that many of the ABC affiliates provide.  iMap Weather Radio is another good app that I use and not too  pricey at $4.99

Live in quake country?  The American Red Cross has a good app that provides information on recent events, how to prepare and what to do after one hits.  They also have similar apps that are geared towards tornadoes  and wildfires.

Whether you and your team are deploying on the road or not, the Gas Buddy app helps you find the lowest gas prices in your immediate vicinity – although the accuracy and whether the information is current relies on user participation.  Crowdsourcing when you’re running on empty isn’t the best option but the app is free.  Hot tip: by checking the time stamps on the updates you can see which stations are actually open.

There are a bunch of first aid apps that provide basic instruction on how to provide emergency medical assistance should the need arise, although you get two BC demerits if you don’t already know CPR.  I like First Aid Pocket Guide (below left) because of the way they’ve designed the progression of actions based on different types of medical problems.  Wiki has a more generalized instant how-to app but it will also tell you how to deliver a baby.  And don’t forget the version for pets.

first-aid-app-screen-shotAlong the same line, Medical Emergency Response is a relatively new “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” app that provides one-touch notification of the fact that you need help to one or more pre-programmed contacts as soon as you hit the icon.  It also dials 911 so you’d need to use good judgment on when to activate it.  I’m a little on the fence about how this could best be used after a disaster and I’m curious to know what the rate of accidental activations is but it might apply to your situation or that of a loved one.  And what happens if someone finds you unconscious?  There’s an app for that, although you should so very totally already have a clearly delineated ICE (In Case of Emergency) number loaded into your phone’s contact list. That one’s three bucks but it also allows you to include information for first responders on any medical conditions you have as well as your insurance info.

Survival Pocket Ref is a catch-all “quick reference guide on basic survival, evasion, first aid and recovery information” that I have on my phone and it’s only 99 cents.

Worried your car might break down or you might get a flat tire from all the windblown debris and broken stuff after a powerful storm, a painful lesson I learned while touring some of the hardest hit areas of New Orleans after Katrina?  There are several apps for that but seriously, go take a class.  At the very least learn how to change a tire, safely use jumper cables and at least temporarily restore your car’s radiator to operating status.  And in addition to all the other stuff you should have ready to go already (go read that one; it’s really good), always, always keep a fully charged standard size fire extinguisher, jumper cables and powerful flash light in your trunk.

Speaking of driving, Google Maps now include a decent traffic overlay but I usually rely on this one because it’s based on embedded road sensors and camera observations.  Even medium-sized metro areas now have similar municipally-provided data.  Check and see what might be available by simply searching for “(my town) traffic map,” compare different maps for accuracy from time to time and definitely pre-load the one you choose on your phone.  I use mine several times a week, even when hell isn’t breaking loose, and it’s a real time-saver.

Speaking of hell breaking loose, this one you just have to look at to get an idea of what’s going on.  It’s zoomable but you can also hit the root URL and select specific regions.  I’ve heard it referred to as “crisis porn” but glancing at it every so often helps keep things in perspective although it also makes me a little jittery.  And yes, somebody else provides a mobile version.

Finally, those of us in hurricane country know about Whataburger’s admirable allegiance to their own “last to close / first to open” policy and hitting their store locator at whataburger.com comes in handy when you need a break from the canned tuna and Triscuits.  Same for Academy Sports and Outdoors or the big-box sporting chain in your region.  Think batteries, cots, coolers and portable lighting for those of you who didn’t prepare ahead of time but expect competition for whatever is left on the shelves.

Which ones did I forget and what similar links do you use?  BC resilience thrives on all of us sharing what works best and we’ll post an updated list based on your input.  And remember, if you can’t find or load the links or apps that you want to have in case there’s an emergency, ask the closest 15-year-old.  They can do it faster than you can change the batteries in your flashlight.

***

Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or to find out about a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.





Tweaking Your Business Continuity Plan: Delegating Wisely Is As Important As Hiring The Right Person

27 06 2014

When it comes to hiring it’s not only critical to hire the “right” person for the job but also to utilize that person to the greatest benefit and capitalize on their strengths.  At least that’s how we see it.

And that’s how we see business continuity as well.  Think of your own organization.  A plan gets written and then it sits on the shelf until it needs to be activated and when that happens, it’s not enough just to have written the “right” plan.  You have to utilize your resources – including the human ones – in a way that’s smart, efficient and plays to people’s strengths.  If you don’t, you jeopardize the success of your recovery, not to mention your mojo at work.  As your organization grows, so grow the number of people on your away team and the size of your plan overall.  And it’s up to you to keep pace and continually reimagine the “who will do what” part of your plan.

So it’s no surprise that, as business continuity has evolved into a ‘real’ industry and grown so much in the last 10 years and, lucky for us, Continuity Housing has evolved and grown right along with it, we have occasion to step back, take a breath and reimagine the “who will do what” part of our own company.  And when we did that very recently, we quickly decided that it’s time to create a new position.  Namely a Team Lead who will oversee the daily operations of our Account Executives, making sure that we meet our deadlines, troubleshooting any problems our clients have with hotels, ensuring the accuracy and redundancy of our record-keeping and supervising Continuity Housing concierge personnel when our clients’ deployment teams arrive onsite.

Sounds great, right?

Well, meet Julie Hicks .

Julie

Julie

If you take me out of the picture, Julie has been with the company the longest and has worked more deployments than anyone else on the team.  It can be hard sometimes to play to her strengths, though, because she has a number of them.  The ones that earned her this promotion are her organization, her leadership and the diligence, tenacity and creativity she shows when contracting with hotels.  She’s worked both sides of the check-in desk since 2000 so she knows exactly how hotels operate and how to get the most out of that relationship on behalf of Continuity Housing clients.  And the part our clients like best?  She doesn’t take no for an answer from hotels – at least not until after an exhaustive effort – and she holds our hotel contacts to their word.  (Personal note: besides all that she’s also a genuinely pleasant person and a joy to work with.)

In short, Julie has been there and done that.  In her new role, she will continue to manage our largest client’s program – 950 rooms spread over 25 hotels in four cities – and will add to her plate all the responsibilities mentioned above.

She’s no slouch!

Asked to describe her new responsibilities, Julie responds that, “I will serve as a mentor for our Account Executives as well as ensure that our clients’ needs are met in a timely manner.  I am here for the team to understand their challenges, offer solutions and jump in to assist when needed.”

Julie-family-at-beachWhich is the ‘what’ but exactly how does Julie feel about all this?  “I love to see a great plan come together in an emergency. It’s our time to shine, and our clients’, too!”  Julie lives in Frisco, TX with her husband, John, 2 kids, Harrison and Halstyn and their weimaraner Barron (named after William Barron Hilton from her 10-year career with Hilton Hotels) and spends her weekends as soccer/dance mom on the sidelines of soccer games or in the lobby of a dance studio.

If you’d like to send her a congratulatory note, you can reach her at Julie.Hicks@continuityhousing.com.  I’m sure she’d love to hear from you.

***

Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or to find out about a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.








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