Chair: Martin Gill

Panellists:
Paul Bean – Head of Investigations, Intelligence and Economic Crime at Royal Mail
Alan Cain – Manchester Chapter Chair, The Institute of Strategic Risk Management
Dr David Rubens D.SyRM, CSyP, F.ISRM – Executive Director at The Institute of Strategic Risk Management
Bruno Sechet – Founder of Integralim

Key points

Alan Cain outlines his own work history which includes extensive experience of working in both business continuity and security and he argues that they are ‘two sides of the same coin’. Specifically they present different skill sets and therefore different responses to different problems. For example, security leads on tackling vulnerability and business continuity on impact. He laments that more was not learnt from previous crises. Part of the problem he argues is a lack of leadership and that Boards are not sufficiently supportive of practitioners. Alan argues that the economic hardship that beckons is more likely to impact on security than business continuity.

Bruno Sechet outlines the complexities of the food supply chain rendering it susceptible to a range of threats amongst them the safety of food and fraud, and where food delivery is disrupted it is a crisis. He is disappointed by a number of factors emerging from the current crisis and which provide learning points, these include: the lack of a holistic approach; the failure to see manging the crisis as a strategic issue; the failure to learn optimally from previous crises; and the lack of joined up working particularly between the private and public sectors.

Paul Bean discusses his own organisation’s approach to security and business continuity, and you will hear him refer to business resilience. Building on a theme that emerged throughout the webinar, he discusses the issue of definitions, specifically the extent of variation, and the need for industries to come together to agree a common terminology. You will also hear him discuss the important roles of compliance and sustainability. As Paul says, there will be winners and losers from this crisis, and he feels a winner will be business continuity and security who because of performances during the crisis will have a permanent seat at the high table.

David Rubens notes that understanding roles are important, as he says crisis management cannot control earthquakes, it is about consequence management. That said, crises are chaotic, but they are not random. What crises do do, David notes, is require good security to be active on the frontline. He also makes an important point about performance in a crisis; any organisation that was not efficient before the crisis cannot be good once it has occurred. You will hear David discuss some of the problems with the response: some pockets of poor leadership; poor Government direction; and a failure to look to communities to help with the response (for example in enforcing lockdowns). He also highlights the characteristics of good responses and his input includes reference to: being sensitive to the environment, agility, leadership and how spare capacity brings resilience. For David the current crisis is a near miss, we need to learn quickly.

This webinar generated a lot of discussion about the need for commonly applied definitions, and for understanding the roles of different parties. We learn about both the weaknesses of the response to the crisis (not engaging communities more stands out) but also some of the strengths (parties learning quickly and collaborating effectively). David Rubens makes a stark point, that we may think this crisis is big but we cannot be sure there isn’t a bigger one to come. We need to heed our learnings, and speedily too.

Martin Gill
29/10/2020