Speaker Spotlights

Mark Armour

Mark Armour has been in the business continuity/disaster recovery profession for nearly 20 years. He has worked as director of global business continuity for Brink’s Inc. for the past six years.

Armour enjoys everything about the BC/DR profession.

“I get exposure to all parts of the organization and at all levels,” he said. “I get to work with a diverse, capable group of people within Brink’s. Outside of Brink’s, I get to network with a smart, hard-working community of passionate individuals.”

He feels one of the most important aspects of the profession is networking.

“Seek to make as many positive relationships as you can within your organization and expand your connections within the discipline,” he said. “Don’t restrict your learning to just the preparedness professions. There is a lot out there that can inform your work as a BC professional.”

Armour will present “How Doing Everything Wrong Led to My Success in Business Continuity” at DRJ’s upcoming fall virtual conference.

He has had several roles in the BC/DR profession and learned far more from his mistakes than any of his successes.

“I also tend to march to my own drummer,” he said. “As it turns out, I’ve been doing everything wrong. But I’m very proud of the program I have built and it has proven its value time and again, despite the fact that it does not conform to a ‘traditional’ set of practices.”

He said attendees will learn some ideas which could apply to improve their program success – even if it goes against the typical guidance.

One interesting scenario he will share is how he failed the CBCP exam the first time he took it but received some important practical advice in order to pass the second time.

“I used to say everybody else is doing business continuity wrong without really considering how this might be received – not well, it turns out,” he said, “so I’ve accepted the fact that I am the one who is doing it wrong. I think others can learn a lot if they are not afraid to step outside their comfort zone and try something new.”

He continued, “Who knows? You might be more successful for doing so!”

Armour previously presented about metrics and measure at a previous conference.

For his DRJ Fall 2020 virtual presentation, Armour will give a lecture with discussion and include a question-and-answer session.

“I hope the fact that some of my ideas are controversial will encourage some interesting conversations,” he said.

“Insider tips” he plans to share is how to learn how to rethink executive engagement for true program benefits; identify time-wasting activities in order to free up valuable time and deliver true value; and redefine the role and responsibilities of the business continuity professional for an organization’s benefit.

Armour, cABCF (Adaptive Business Continuity Foundation), has been president of the North Texas Chapter of ACP for the past two years.

He was born and raised in Boston and has spent the past 16 years living in Frisco, Texas. He loves music and previously played the guitar in various rock bands back in the 90s and early 2000s.

During COVID-19 closures, Armour worked from home. Brink’s corporate employees had already been largely working remotely since earlier this year. Protective equipment and very clear guidance were also provided to “our heroes out in the field supporting our customers day in and day out.”

Now employees at Brink’s work remotely when possible. Employees in the field have had to become accustomed to social distancing measures, temperature checks, the use of PPE, and entirely new procedures to ensure their safety.

“My hope is that we will eventually return to something that more closely resembles the environment that existed prior to 2020, both in terms of business and socialization opportunities,” said Armour.

DRJ Fall 2020 will be a full state-of-the-art virtual experience held Sept. 28-Oct. 1. This year’s event themed “Focus on the Future of Resiliency” is DRJ’s 63rd conference.

Read session description

Vu Cap

There are two events which led Vu Cap to a career in business continuity and disaster recovery: Y2K and Sept. 11, 2001.

“Y2K taught me the importance of backing up and having a backup for back-ups,” he said. 

Then during the events of 9/11, he was in Washington, D.C. when the second plane struck the Pentagon. 

“That event left a lasting impression and fueled my desire to contribute to the profession,” he said.

Cap, business and cyber resilience SME, has worked in the BC/DR profession for 20 years in resilience and security space.

He enjoys the opportunity to learn how organizations operate and help them to mature their resiliency posture. 

Cap offers simple yet necessary advice for new BC/DR professionals: “welcome and prepare to be a life learner!”

During DRJ Fall 2020, Cap will co-present with Steven Ramirez with “Implementing a Successful Cyber Resiliency Program in Healthcare.”

The risk landscape in healthcare is continuously volatile. This session will provide insight on cyber resilience and why it is important in healthcare. In addition, speakers will detail how to prepare a healthcare organization for a devastating cyberattack which could take place and how the possible severity of the breach indicates healthcare entities prepare a plan to continue to run its operations at full capacity which has minimal impact on patient care.

“Cyber resilience is necessity in the new BC/DR planning,” he said.

Cap will also discuss the impact of COVID-19.

The two presenters will give a lecture with Q&A and show how leveraging metrics and data can help professionals quantify their risk.

Cap, MBCP, CHPCP, CISM, is a member of Business Continuity Institute and Community Emergency Response Team and a PCP-level 1 professional continuity planner for FEMA. He earned his doctoral degree in public policy and administration from Walden University in 2013 and master’s degree from University of Maryland University College in 2009. In addition, he earned graduate certification from Homeland Security Management in 2008 and an MPA from the University of te District of Columbia in 2003. He lives in the Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas, area.

Read session description

Dr. Robert Chandler

Dr. Robert C. Chandler has presented more than 50 times at DRJ conferences. He will share his expertise once again this fall at DRJ’s 63rd conference.

Chandler will also share his more than 30 years of experience working in the business continuity and disaster recovery profession. He is currently a professor of graduate and professional programs in communication at Nashville’s Lipscomb University.

Reflecting on his career, Chandler said he first joined the profession because he was interested in educating and helping professionals perform better. Nearly three decades later, he said the keys to success in BC/DR are education and training, experience, and mindfulness.

The things he thoroughly enjoys in the profession are “applied creativity and problem solutions.”

For the upcoming DRJ Fall 2020 – a state-of-the-art virtual conference – Chandler will present the general session “Focus on Anticipatory Leadership: The Future of Resiliency Risk and Resiliency.”

During this session, Chandler will share with attendees how risk and resiliency planning involves preparing a business or organization to continue with its operations in the face of disasters, circumstances, disruptions, threats, and crises. This includes preparing employees and leaders to successfully manage such events.

“As the challenges to effective leadership become increasingly complex, the effective leaders in the future must increasingly be prepared for anticipatory responses and highly predictive analytical and decision-making skill sets,” said Chandler.

He said one key aspect is grounded in core orientations, knowledge, skills, and abilities for a more sophisticated anticipatory foresight approach.

This engaging, thought-provoking, and research-based general session presentation will alert attendees to the important challenge for effective leadership. It also calls attention to the need to expand the visionary risk and resiliency imagination as leaders are prepared for future challenges.

“The session encourages an approach that combines anticipatory foresight, predictive vision, creative imagination, adaptive skill sets, and an innovation mindset,” he said.

Chandler will also present an additional session titled “Focus on the Future of Resiliency: The New Domain of Human-Technology Interaction Failure Disasters.” During this session, he will discuss the emerging third “failure” domain of human plus technology errors in a growing area to understand and control.

“An appropriate illumination of human decision-making and human behavioral factors can enhance our understanding of why people do what they do and guide us in improving the performance quality of both processes,” said Chandler.

He will connect with his audience through an engaging and relevant presentation. 

Chandler is an internationally recognized expert on multiple aspects of crisis management, leadership, decision-making, communication, and human interaction in specialized contexts. He currently holds an academic appointment as a professor at Lipscomb University where he oversees professional and graduate education programs. With more than 35 years of applied research into factors impacting effective communication and performance exploring key psychological and physiological variables, he has produced nine books and more than 175 scholarly and professional articles. 

He has consulted globally with public and private-sector entities and leading emergency communication solutions providers. His proprietary human behavioral models and normative communication templates are widely used for training and practical applications. He is a widely lauded speaker and presenter.

Chandler serves as a consultant and trainer for a wide range of businesses, public sector agencies, and not-for-profit organizations through AVINDEX. He focuses on crisis and consequence management consulting which serve clients globally by providing solutions and services for risk management, site security assessment, crisis and consequence management event consulting, crisis and emergency communication planning and support, safety and workplace violence mitigation, and recovery guidance.

In addition, he provides supplemental professional services in the areas of business impact analysis; operational continuity planning; crisis management plan creation; emergency response plan creation and response; cybersecurity risk management; IT disaster recovery plans; behavioral threat – risk assessment, training, personnel and staffing solutions, intelligence, and monitoring; crisis team and leader selection; assessment, training, and evaluation; and a full range of diagnostic and metric analyses.

As a professor, Chandler has also seen higher education dramatically shift to remote instruction as well as remote curriculum, administration, and other academic processes during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has delivered more than 10 workshops, webinars, and training sessions for schools, colleges, and universities to assist them with adapting to impacts from the pandemic.

Read session description

Naveen Chhabra

Naveen Chhabra is a senior analyst for Forrester Research. He has been working in the business continuity and disaster recovery industry for six years.

He will share his work experience with virtual attendees of DRJ Fall 2020 with the presentation “The State of Business Technology Resiliency.”

During his presentation, Chhabra will discuss with participants how organizations invest in building a large portfolio of applications and stakeholders’ demand 24×7 for uninterrupted delivery of IT services.

“Companies spend a lot of time planning and testing their capabilities in meeting the stakeholder’s expectations,” said Chhabra. “Despite these efforts, businesses face significant outages caused by a variety of factors.”

He said it’s important to know the gaps in practice, an organization’s structure, technology, processes, and more in order to limit the service delivery.

“This session will expose the areas that the business continuity professionals should focus on,” he said.

During his lecture, Chhabra will share an “insider secret” with attendees regarding how ransomware is becoming the leading cause of business downtime. He will also teach participants what to think about beyond technology preparedness.

He offered basic but beneficial advice for professionals: “Be ready to face the mountains. Have the determination and courage to make things happen.”

Chhabra said the BC/DR industry provides a vantage point which he can use to guide his clients to make the right technology decisions for their business.

He said his position as a senior analyst leverages his critical thinking in terms of “finding the vulnerabilities, the cracks, and thinking of the effective remediation.”

“The rapidly evolving business and technology ecosystem pose risks for business from a continuity standpoint,” said Chhabra. “I enjoy helping the clients look at what they are not able to.”

Read session description

Richard Cocchiara

The role of a chief information security officer – or CISO – is an important one. The CISO’s position now incorporates all risk, including disaster recovery and business continuity.

“If you are not planning to dynamically address them, you will be a victim of them,” said Richard Cocchiara.

He said unfortunately the lifespan of a CISO is very short because most do not understand what they are facing. 

Cocchiara will present “Operating as a Chief Information Security Officer in the New World” at DRJ Fall 2020’s virtual conference.

Although he has been a CISO for Cognitient Corp. for the past year, he has nearly three decades of experience working in the business continuity/disaster recovery profession.

While employed at IBM, Cocchiara was responsible for designing highly available systems for clients. After several high-profile system failures at companies around the world, he began to notice that technology was only one aspect which could cause a company to be unable to continue operations. This eventually led him to look at not only the technology of a company but overall risk strategy, applications, data, facilities, organization, and processes. These “layers” formed the basis for business resilience and the creation of the IBM business resilience framework and IBM resilience services.

Cocchiara said the challenge is managing IT risk by knitting together business continuity, disaster recovery, security, high availability, and governance. 

“Think broadly,” he said. “Technology is only one part of the equation.”

During his presentation, he will discuss the unfortunate short lifespan of a CISO.

“It is very short because most don’t understand what they are facing,” he said. 

His session is designed to explain how CISCOs should not be a statistic. He will also share how executives will learn

  • how to evaluate the risks their organizations face
  • which skills are necessary to dynamically mitigate risks and how what can be evaluated today might not be what is needed tomorrow
  • how to overcome reluctance by senior-level executives in organizations to make the necessary changes to address risks
  • which changes are required to ensure executives have a team who can handle today’s risks
  • how current risks are unlike the risk of only five years ago and how business continuity and disaster recovery are only part of CISCO’s jobs
  • how to address incidents which will occur and deal with a public who expects immediate notification and mitigation.

Cocchiara said that despite the near-constant threat of a cyberattack, 77% of organizations do not have a cybersecurity incident response plan which is applied consistently across their enterprise. This information is attributed to the Ponemon 2019 study released from IBM Security.

“Don’t guess,” said Cocchiara. “Know what your risks are or expect to fail.”

Cocchiara has presented at several previous DRJ conferences at breakout sessions and as a keynote speaker.

For his DRJ Fall 2020 presentation, Cocchiara will conduct a lecture with ample audience participation via questions which he will introduce during his session.

One “insider tip” he will share with attendees is preparing for a cybersecurity incident begins with acquiring management buy-in to the response plan before it is even written.

Cocchiara is a retired IBM distinguished engineer and certified IBM consultant. He was responsible for the creation of the business resilience concept and a former leadership member of the IBM Academy of Technology.

He has a bachelor’s degree in management information systems (MIS) from Pace University and a master’s degree in MIS from Marist College.

Cocchiara resides in Washingtonville, N.Y., with his wife Judy. They have been married for 33 years and have three children Stephanie, Domenick, and Daniel who are “all thankfully out of college and employed.”

Cocchiara is currently serving in his 19th year as councilman for the town of Hamptonburgh. He is also Scoutmaster Emeritus for Boy Scout Troop #416.

He said during COVID-19 closures, he worked from home and developed work-from-home strategies for 2,200 county employees. His role changed from that of CIO to more of a crisis/DR planner during his time with the county. 

Cocchiara said the county never had a work-from-home policy or capability so he developed one in two weeks. 

“Working remotely is the new normal,” he said.

He will continue to determine ways to “do everything remotely, including customer workshops.”

“Our industry is now viewed as critical to the future of companies and agencies,” Cocchiara said. “We must demonstrate that we can help mitigate the risks. Failure is not an option.”

DRJ Fall 2020 will be a full state-of-the-art virtual experience held Sept. 28-Oct. 1. This year’s event themed “Focus on the Future of Resiliency” is DRJ’s 63rd conference.

Read session description

Ian Crabb

As a service provider, Ian Crabb enjoys the opportunity to work with and learn about many different businesses and experience different organizational cultures.

He has worked in business continuity for 30 years. The last 10 years he has been employed with ClearView Continuity and more recently with Assurance Software following a merger where he is global head of strategy.

Crabb said he joined the profession based on the fact that it “required working across the entire business, not siloed in one area.”

He said the profession also gave great insight to the way businesses work and access to understand the interactions, relationships, and interdependencies which exist.

Crabb offered advice to new professionals: “Make sure you understand the full value of continuity, and work beyond just the functional level.”

He said understanding continuity can, and should, connect at the senior level in regard to building confidence and capability, in meeting senior management expectations, and protecting the core products and services that businesses offer.

Crabb will co-present with Michael Jennings to share their expertise with DRJ Fall 2020 attendees with the presentation “Pandemic Sanity Check: How the Practice of Business Continuity May Change and What You Can Do to Prepare.”

According to Crabb, the COVID-19 pandemic has unexpectedly and quickly become the biggest influence on the survival of organizations worldwide.

“In this presentation, we will outline how the pandemic has already changed and will continue to change the practice of business continuity in the future,” said Crabb. “How has this event changed our understanding of what resilience means?”

He said only 12% of organizations are highly prepared for the impact of this pandemic, according to a recent business continuity survey by Gartner.

“COVID is an example of a disruption to the business model and needs to be considered in this context,” said Crabb.

The pair will share an “insider tip” on how COVID-19 has changed the way plans will be made for the future.

“Be open to change and the new normal,” said Crabb.

Jennings is vice president of Assurance Software.

As head of strategy, Crabb performs a collaborative role in the business, contributing to the executive team through the development of strategic objectives and opportunities to influence business growth and profitability and directly support the leadership team in the strategy execution.

Crab was previously COO at ClearView. Since 2007, he has provided the intellectual capital and conceptual design for ClearView based on his experience working in business continuity. His experience spans nearly 30 years.

During his career, in addition to providing independent professional services and program management to global clients, Crabb has held both director and senior management roles within service provider and client organizations. He also brings a wealth of knowledge from these opposite viewpoints.

Read session description

Harlan Dolgin

Harlan Dolgin was laid off from a management position due to a merger when the opportunity presented itself to join the business continuity/disaster recovery profession. He applied for and received a promotion for his first BC job.

“After that, I never looked back,” said Dolgin. “I love what I do, and with a positive attitude you’ll always land on your feet!”

He said he most enjoys getting to know the various aspects of the business and the many people in the profession.

Dolgin offers advice to new professionals in the industry: be curious, inquisitive, and always be in learning mode to absorb as much as possible about one’s organization.

He has worked for almost two years in his current position as vice president-business continuity manager in the second line of defense for MUFG Union Bank. He has worked for 21 years overall in the profession.

Dolgin will present “FFIEC’s Focus on Resiliency: What It Means to You” at DRJ Fall 2020’s virtual conference.

During his presentation, Dolgin will discuss the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council’s (FFIEC) new business continuity management booklet in November 2019 with an increased focus on organizational resiliency.

“We’ll take a look at how this impacts the business continuity program and what other aspects of the program should be changed to meet the evolving world of business continuity program management,” said Dolgin.

He said he led a project at a past employer to fully power down one of the two main production data centers for North America, leading to higher resiliency for the company.

Dolgin said, “First was recovery, then was continuity, now we have resilience – resilience, to me, is engineering your business so it can’t fail.”

Conference attendees will gain information from Dolgin through a lecture and Q&A.

“This is an analysis, the old vs. new business continuity handbook,” he said. “It’s not a sexy topic for sure, but it’s a critical subject for any financial organization that is audited/regulated by the OCC or other federal regulators.”

Dolgin has presented at previous DRJ conferences on the topics of pandemics, telecommuting, BC plans, and DR testing.

Dolgin, MBCP, has a law degree from Saint Louis University and has worked at US Bank, WellPoint, Reuters, Bio-Defense Network, and early warning created non-profit PandemicPrep.Org in 2006 in St. Louis.

He grew up in St. Louis and has lived in Phoenix for the last three years. He is a St. Louis Cardinals fan and enjoys superhero movies and attending ComicCon events.

DRJ Fall 2020 will be a full state-of-the-art virtual experience held Sept. 28-Oct. 1. This year’s event themed “Focus on the Future of Resiliency” is DRJ’s 63rd conference.

Read session description

Dan Dorman

Being of service and help during difficult situations is what first inspired Dan Dorman to join the business continuity/disaster recovery profession.

Dorman has been a service continuity program manager for six years but has worked in the BC/DR profession for 30 years. He most enjoys the opportunities to innovate and improve the profession.

He said professionals who are new to BC/DR should learn the basics but think outside the box.

“Keep learning from many sources and contribute by sharing what you are discovering as you go,” he said. “Adapt your practice to the industry and company cultures and needs.”

He said to network with other professionals to connect and help one another.

Dorman will share some of his ideas during his presentation “Employee Preparedness is Fundamental” at DRJ Fall 2020.

According to Dorman, employee preparedness for all kinds of natural and manmade local, regional, or global disasters is fundamental to any business continuity program.

“This important fundamental is often overlooked,” he said. “Actively developing, integrating, and promoting this essential business continuity program element will build connections and trust, promote confidence, and improve employee safety.”

Dorman said this provides a context of relevance and connection to all other elements of business continuity.

During his presentation, Dorman will share information, results, and benefits from his pandemic prep seminar from February 2020 in which he developed and presented a one-hour preparation seminar for Alaska Airlines via Microsoft teams.

“If employees are not emotionally, physically, and psychologically prepared to deal with disasters at work, at home, and on the road, who will be available to implement your business continuity plan?”

Since DRJ Fall 2020 is a virtual-only conference, Dorman will use a lecture and sharing of relevant experiences to make a connection with the attendees of his presentation.

An “insider tip” he plans to share is how active promotion of “brown bag” seminars and workshops is the fastest way to build connections at all levels of an organization and to promote awareness and impact of the BC program.

Dorman studied mathematical sociology – a combination of demography, statistics, and computer science – and earned a master’s degree in 1984.

“This was excellent preparation for a career in IT in the then-nascent field,” he said.

Personal interests and passions lead rapidly to specialization in IT disaster recovery followed by business continuity.

Dorman has always looked to innovate in solving the readiness and recovery challenges of different companies and industries, so he enthusiastically jumped in on the revolution years ago and is ready to share insightful information with attendees at DRJ’s upcoming conference.

DRJ Fall 2020 will be a full state-of-the-art virtual experience held Sept. 28-Oct. 1. This year’s event themed “Focus on the Future of Resiliency” is DRJ’s 63rd conference.

Read session description

Jason Duchnowski

Jason “JD” Duchnowski has had many backup and disaster recovery-related roles at large corporations such as Dell/EMC, World Wide Technology, and starts like Actifio. 

He has been employed with Otava, a global leader in security and compliance cloud solutions, since 2018. Initially, he ran global channels before moving into his product role which he has held since March 2020.

Overall, Duchnowski has worked in business continuity/disaster recovery for 15 years at EMC.

When he began his career, Duchnowski was offered a position with then-industry leader EMC to work on many platforms and software solutions including BC/DR technologies. 

“With training and experience,” he said, “I found that it was a great fit and I rose through the ranks as an architect, SE, and sales leader.”

Although this was not a field Duchnowski originally set out to be part of, it has been very rewarding for him. 

Duchnowski is product manager at Otava. 

Through his experience in BC/DR, he has learned it is one of the most underrated areas of business. Along with production, proper implementation and management of BC/DR is what keeps businesses going. 

“Helping to raise the awareness of its significance and impact is interesting and fulfilling work,” he said. 

Duchnowski offers advice to new professionals in BC/DR: “The technology landscape is changing rapidly right now which creates a lot of opportunity.”

He said in order to excel in the profession, it is important to first understand the fundamental business aspects in addition to the technologies. 

“By gaining strong knowledge of business challenges you will be able to take the right approaches and be successful with BC/DR,” said Duchnowski. “From a technical standpoint, those that focus on building expertise in BC/DR in multi and hybrid cloud environments will set themselves apart.”

He said leading research firms claim this is a growing area which will need support for the foreseeable future.

Duchnowski’s presentation, titled “How Security and Compliance Could Save You … and Your Clients,” will share important information with attendees at DRJ Fall 2020. 

According to Ponemon Institute, U.S. data breaches cost targeted companies an average of $8.2 billion and took up to nine months to contain. 

Despite the explosion of new security technologies, attempted and successful data breaches are growing at a continually accelerated rate.

Duchnowski said mitigating costs depend on three things: breach prevention, business protection, and shortening the breach life cycle. Prepared companies address these challenges in proactive ways: with an incident response team and plan; solid security solutions; prepared employees; cyber liability insurance; vendor assessment program; and the ability to maintain operations with a remote workforce.

“This presentation will offer tips for putting these elements in place and discuss the importance of ensuring accessibility, security, and continuity to protect data,” he said. “Attendees will leave with clear guidance for bolstering their data protection plans and communicating the importance of such actions across their organization and customer communications.”

One interesting scenario Duchnowski will share with attendees is regarding the impact and potential cost of a breach. He will highlight a common scenario where a business might make the best of limited resources. In doing so, the important aspects of how to reduce the lifecycle time of a breach will be revealed.

Duchnowski said Ponemon’s research shows the No. 1 way to reduce the lifecycle time of a breach and thereby reduce the cost impact to the business is by having an incident response strategy. In fact, the report indicates the financial impact of a breach can be reduced by more than 30% by having an incident response team already in place.

“BC/DR solutions are multifaceted and aspects that may appear to be simple, if not formulated correctly, could have great consequences to your business,” said Duchnowski. “For example, cyber liability insurance is something your business should not operate without. However, to ensure appropriate coverage, policies must be carefully reviewed by qualified professionals who have a full understanding of your business operations.”

One “insider tip” Duchnowski will share with attendees is to know the fine print of an organization’s cyber liability insurance contract and have the company’s lawyer “go through it with you line by line.”

Duchnowski is the product lead for data resiliency, business continuity, and disaster recovery at Otava, a compliance-centric provider of cloud solutions. He has more than 15 years of experience in the IT industry including time spent with other companies.

He lives in Denver, Colo. He has a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems technology from Pursue University.

Duchnowski said his employer remained strong and continued customer service demand for secure services needed to protect their businesses and enable the shift to work-from-home operations.

In March, Otava’s workforce moved to work from home with the exception of essential data center staff. To support Otava’s employees now working from home, the company created new ways to stay connected including weekly virtual events, department video updates, and other communication methods.

Duchnowski had already worked from home for seven years so his work environment and role remained largely the same during COVID-19 closures.

“Otava is taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of its staff, customers, and partners,” he said. “The data centers that have remained open now have additional visitation guidelines, cleaning procedures, and new health screening policies.”

He said while it may be too early to predict what the “new normal” will look like, Otava has already become a more creative and agile organization.

“Our company has made it a priority to understand the impact that working from home is having on our team members,” Duchnowski said. “While the company embraces increased productivity levels, we also want to help team members find the balance between work and home to regain a sense of normalcy wherever possible.”

He said Otava’s mission to rise above to deliver exceptional experiences has been a great foundation for the business as it has instilled an ability to adapt quickly. 

“From this experience we all know that unpredictable events can leave any business vulnerable,” said Duchnowski. “I expect that in the future, Otava will delve even deeper into ways we can support our customers and prepare for the unexpected.”

He said, “Businesses that are the most resilient, agile, flexible will be those that survive and thrive.”

DRJ Fall 2020 will be a full state-of-the-art virtual experience held Sept. 28-Oct. 1. This year’s event themed “Focus on the Future of Resiliency” is DRJ’s 63rd conference.

Read session description

Sherri Flynn

Sherri Flynn enjoys consulting and collaborating with people on the improvement of their overall business.

Flynn has worked for the past six years as a recovery planner and been in the industry for more than 25 years.

Helping people understand the innerworkings of their organization and how every area relies on each individual area is what fuels Flynn in the business continuity/disaster recovery profession.

“Not one department is more important than another when it comes to overall business resilience,” she said.

Flynn offered advice to other professions: talk with every employee, at every level, respectfully and with genuine interest in what they contribute to the organization.

She will offer advice, strategies, and more during her DRJ Fall 2020 presentation “Take Advantage of Business Continuity Momentum and Exercise Your Programs.”

According to Flynn, business continuity typically gets a significantly larger amount of attention after an organization experiences a disaster. She will share with professionals how they can update their organization’s pandemic plans with lessons learned from COVID-19.

“How you respond to an actual event comes down to how prepared you are for the exercises and how well you document, review, and improve upon your processes post-exercise,” she said. 

She added, “COVID-19 has brought more visibility to what we as business continuity/crisis management professionals do and our value to the organization.”

This session will allow participants to review critical components of designing tabletop exercises and prepare documentation for use pre, post, and during a table-top exercise.

At the conclusion of her session, Flynn will provide a template and instructions on using an after-action report for exercising.

“When it comes to exercising your plans, there is no such thing as too much preparation,” said Flynn. “The more effort you put into preparation, the better your exercise will be, your discussion will be, and your executive reporting will be.”

Flynn has previously presented at DRJ conferences independently and with co-presenters. Past topics have included BCM best practices, effective BIAs, active shooters, handling cascading disasters, and vendor contingency planning.

For DRJ Fall 2020, Flynn’s presentation will be geared toward lecture. A template will be provided as a take-away to allow attendees to use for follow-up activities.

She said, “Having a long-term exercise plan helps you to develop an overall better exercise program as you assure that all team members get a chance to participate, helps you design and develop a program that progresses in complexity, avoids repetition, and promotes consistency which makes exercising a regular part of ordinary business duties.”

Flynn, MBCP, is certified by ISACA as a CISM and also an ISO 22301 lead implementer. She is a senior RPX product specialist and business continuity planner. 

She was awarded 2020 DRJ Consultant of the Year by DRI International Awards of Excellence. This particular award recognizes consultants who excel in the field of business continuity program management, use creative problem solving to tackle difficult issues, and instill a culture of continuity in every organization with which they work.

Flynn has more than two decades of experience as group facilitator training and collaborating with all levels of employees, strategic committees, senior and executive management, and board of directors. She provides consulting services on business continuity plan development, design, cyber response planning, business impact analysis, risk and threat assessments, incident response program management, BC training and awareness, and vendor management. 

Her style is to “keep the project simple and logical” as she strives to make a client independent.

Flynn has a bachelor’s degree in education from Rowan University.

Read session description

Dr. Steven Goldman

Dr. Steven B. Goldman has more than three decades of experience in all aspects of the business continuity/disaster recovery profession.

He’ll be sharing his expertise virtually with DRJ Fall 2020 attendees with his presentation “Successful Drills and Exercises: Here’s How!”

“During my hands-on workshop, attendees learn how to develop, set up, conduct, and critique a successful BC/DR exercise,” said Goldman. “Students will master the aspects of effective exercise preparation and execution, including company politics.”

He said participants will learn how to avoid common pitfalls during the development process and how to anticipate and resolve potential problems.

With his lively style and real-life examples, Goldman will lead attendees through Q&A and interactive discussions of successful exercise development. He will also share 101 different drill and exercise scenarios which attendees can use.

He said, “Management can’t say, ‘We didn’t expect it.’ They should have expected it. Management can’t say, ‘We weren’t prepared.’ They should have been prepared. There are no excuses.”

Goldman, senior lecturer for MIT, has worked at the university for the last 10 years. He has a total of 35 years of experience in all aspects of the BC/DR profession.

When he first started working in the profession, Goldman said he was like most everyone else: he was “assigned” to the BC/DR profession.

“As it turned out,” he said, “I loved it.”

Goldman said he most enjoys working with the people in the industry. He also cautioned new professionals.

“Run! Run while you can!” he said. “The position is not for the faint-of-heart!”

Goldman has been presenting at DRJ conferences since 1994.

At this year’s virtual conference, he will offer advice to attendees on how to conduct an effective drill/exercise critique with senior management present “and still keep their jobs!”

Goldman is an internationally recognized expert and consultant in business continuity, crisis management, disaster recovery, and crisis communications. He has more than 35 years of experience in various aspects of these disciplines including program management, plan development, training, exercises, and response strategies. His background is comprehensive yet unique because he has been a professional engineer, corporate spokesperson, manager of media relations, business continuity planner, crisis responder, consultant, and a Fortune 500 Company’s global business continuity program manager.

He has written or improved many corporation and government agency BCP, DRP, and crisis communications plans and procedures. He has trained all levels of response staff. His specialty is realistic rills and exercises for clients worldwide. He also mentors BCP professionals to improve their programs and careers.

Goldman has published many articles and conducts several seminars annually on the various aspects of crisis management, communications, BCP, and DRP. He is co-founder and senior lecturer at MIT’s “Crisis Management & Business Continuity” professional education summer course.

Read session description

Jamie Goodloe

More than a decade ago, Jamie Goodloe was “the newest girl in a position at the time” and was assigned to be the owner of a BC/DR plan.

“As I took on the work,” she said, “I quickly learned that I had a passion for it and have since made a career out of it.”

Goodloe has worked for a year as a solution engineer for OnSolve and 12 years overall in the BC/DR industry. 

“I love that BC/DR spans the entirety of a company and is focused on relationship building,” she said. “I enjoy working across companies and talking to teams about what they do and to get a shared understanding of why BC/DR is important and how good planning can help them be successful.”

Goodloe explained how relationship building and management are the keys to success.

“BC/DR do not occur in a vacuum and you do not wear a cape so it’s important to connect with folks to gain common understanding of the value that proper BC/DR planning can provide,” she said. 

Goodloe added that it’s imperative to find common ground to determine the best way to get one’s company to “not just do it, but understand it, so you can have others helping you to fight the prioritization battles you will inevitably face from time to time.”

During the DRJ Fall 2020 virtual conference, Goodloe will present “No BC Program is Complete Without an Effective Crisis Communications Plan.” Her presentation will be a summary of best practices for building out a crisis communications plan or program, based on her real-life experiences. She will use her experience from the past decade as a BC professional to share real-life scenarios and strategies with attendees.

Goodloe said she will also share a few “gotcha” moments which she experienced on her journey so professionals “don’t have to live them too.”

“Executive support should not be a rubber stamp,” she said. “Taking the time to educate your stakeholders is the most valuable use of your time, and it will pay dividends throughout the lifecycle of your program.”

Goodloe was also a presenter at DRJ Spring 2020.

For the DRJ Fall 2020 conference, she will present a lecture of best practices based on a “use case” as well as teach participants “how to go beyond the rubber stamp of executive buy-in.”

Goodloe, MBCP, AFBCI, has worked for the past 12 years building and managing BC/DR and crisis management programs.

She lives in Atlanta. She earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and is a lifelong learner and passionate about traveling.

Read session description

Julia Halsne

Julia Halsne plans to share her nearly 35 years of experience with attendees at DRJ Fall 2020.

“One of the things I enjoy most is sharing my experience with others so they can learn and develop their own programs,” she said. “Why reinvent the wheel when you can start from a position of knowledge ot customize to your own program?”

Halsne has worked in the environmental, water, and wastewater industry for more than three decades. She is responsible for the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s business continuity program. She oversees 23 separate BC plans and the enterprise-wide program plan. She developed the first business impact analysis and risk assessment as well as the district’s hazard-specific response plans, crisis communications plan, and several other key documents which support the program.

In addition, Halsne is responsible for monitoring annual exercise plans for the BCPs; biannual updates to the plans; facilities’ district-wide and emergency operations team exercises; administering the exercise after action report tracking program; conducting training, providing oversight, and administration of the Floor Warden plan; and facilitating implementation of the mitigation measures for critical functions. She reports to senior management and the board of directors regarding the status of various programs and district readiness.

Halsne’s presentation at DRJ Fall 2020 is titled “Plans? We Don’t Need Plans! Learn How One Agency Implemented Their Plan and Went Off the Map in Response to COVID-19.”

The presentation will share how EBMUD responded as many companies did to the emerging crisis of COVID-19. Existing plans and protocols for handing a pandemic were already in place at EBMUD. Butthis was the first time the emergency operations team was activated. 

“This event required significant agility and flexibility to implementation of numerous mitigations and response activities,” said Halsne. 

DRJ Fall 2020 attendees will learn how the district approached these efforts to ensure the safety and health of employees and customers, improve operations, and how this can be applied to other public and private-sector businesses.

Conference participants will “learn how the district responded internally and externally to the crisis and what they see the future looking like,” said Halsne.

She has presented on business continuity and program management at multiple past DRJ conferences.

Halsne said, “This will be a presentation with plenty of opportunity to ask questions and engage discussion with others on how they responded and what they see as the future.”

Participants will also gain an understanding of the response and tools used to manage and communicate to internal and external audiences.

Halse said at EBMUD, they have essential workers who have been working onsite 24/7 since the pandemic began. Others have been telecommuting since March.

Several changes were made to their EOT organization and Pandemic Working Group.

Halsne plans to discuss these changes in detail during her DRJ Fall 2020 presentation.

DRJ Fall 2020 will be held in-person at Phoenix’s JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort Sept. 28-Oct. 1. The conference – DRJ’s 63rd – will also be a full virtual experience for those who are unable to travel to Phoenix.

Read session description

Michael Herrera

Michael Herrera enjoys being in the middle of chaos and being the one to help organize and guide a company through a stressful situation.

He’s been working in the industry for more than 20 years. He is chief executive officer of MHA Consulting, Inc. and BCMMETRICS and founded MHA Consulting in 1999.

Herrera said building relationships with his customers and constructing continuity programs which work when they are most needed are the things he most enjoys in BC/DR.

He will share his expertise with attendees through the DRJ Fall 2020 virtual conference with his presentation “Be a Picture of Credibility: Gain Management Support by Building Your Brand.”

Through his presentation, Herrera will show attendees the first steps to take in order to gain management support to “present an impeccable image of yourself.”

He said, “This goes beyond your appearance to encompass your knowledge, expertise, and reputation. When you walk into a room of senior management personnel to initiate BCM conversation, your credibility is everything.”

Herrera said professionals can present a bulletproof image which causes management to “feel highly confident in you and draws them to support your initiatives.”

He suggests professionals learn how to sell themselves to management like they would to a potential employer by building their personal brand.

An “insider tip” Herrera plans to share with virtual conference attendees is they can either ignore their personal brand and let it develop organically beyond their control or instead nurture it to depict them as the person they want to be.

“Nobody does it like you,” he said. “You work hard and produce results, but if you don’t take control of your own narrative, somebody else will.”

Herrera has presented many times at previous DRJ conferences on topics including mock disaster exercises, residual risk, crisis management, metrics, and BIAs.

During his presentation, Herrera said he will “go beyond talking about it” to give participants an opportunity to explore their own personal and professional brand, both of what they want it to be and how others perceive it.

“Learning how to present themselves with confidence and assurance are necessary to gain management support and accomplish their goals,” he said.

He continued, “There is a lot of information online about how to build your brand – on the internet and through social media – but in this highly interactive session, we’ll talk about how one can leverage this concept to gain management support for both you and your program.”

Herrera, a self-described entrepreneur, philanthropist, motivational speaker, aspiring pro golfer, and Sartorialist, is also a husband and father who is a “pay-it-forward” believer. He shares his life experiences and motivational thoughts through his Grind It Out podcast. He is a successful, self-made executive with proven success in increasing corporate revenues, profits, and market share across diverse business sectors. He is a rare combination of a visionary, long-term strategic planner with multi-industry perspective, and a roll-up-the-sleeves, hands-on operations professional skilled at driving bottom-line performance.

Herrera, CBCP, has a bachelor’s degree in informational technology from Western International University and worked at Bank of America for 14 years as regional vice president responsible for BC across the Southwest region.

At MHA, Herrera provides global leadership across MHA. Under his leadership, MHA has become a leading provider of BC and DR services to organizations on a global level. He is also the founder of BCMMETRICS, a leading cloud-based suite of tools designed to assess business continuity compliance and residual risk.

In addition, Herrera is founder and CEO of the charitable organization M2H Charities which supports children and teenagers through a variety of services and programs designed to provide a “hand up” versus a handout. The charity provides multiple programs from scholarships to clothing to school supplies to books to motivational speaking, all designed to support our most underprivileged elementary, middle, and high school students.

As a 100% virtual operation, Herrera said MHA Consulting had the luxury of business as usual, at least from their end of things.

“We did find ourselves in a position of playing a new role of crisis/pandemic advisor to some new and existing clients,” he said. 

Herrera said they have found themselves conducting more remote interviews and working sessions with clients than usual. 

“This has been a challenge since most of us are ‘people’ oriented,” he said, “but having established processes and online tools that we were already accustomed to using has allowed us to proceed in an efficient and effective way.”

DRJ Fall 2020 will be a full state-of-the-art virtual experience held Sept. 28-Oct. 1. This year’s event themed “Focus on the Future of Resiliency” is DRJ’s 63rd conference.

Read session description

Mark Herrington

2020 – a year of unpredictability.

If this year has taught us anything, it’s that chaos is the “new normal” and organizations need to ensure they have adequate plans in place along with substantive intel sources to help quickly assess events as they happen.

Whether pandemics, severe weather, or unexpected crises, this “new normal” has reshaped our lens to the world in which we live. The result is a requirement to maintain a level of operational resilience never seen before, with significant ramifications and challenges for those organizations who fail to take these lessons seriously.

In his session, OnSolve’s CEO Mark Herrington will define how to achieve operational resiliency in this ‘new normal’ by leveraging the power of Augmented Intelligence (AI) to keep people safe, informed, assured, and productive during the times that matter most.

“AI is going to transform the way businesses manage critical events and achieve resiliency in the year ahead,” said Herrington. “Companies and organizations who have the right technology to harness the right data, at the right time, will come out on top.”

Hear from Mark Herrington – the CEO of OnSolve, a critical communications provider for more than 60 years, catering to both the public sector and approximately 50 percent of Fortune 500 companies. Mark Herrington and his team at OnSolve deliver critical event management solutions backed by industry expertise, which gives organizations the ability to proactively keep their employees informed, instill confidence, foster teamwork, mitigate disruptions, improve operational outcomes, protect assets, and save lives.

Read session description

Ray Holloman

Ray Holloman likes planning for the “what if.”

What if the data center gets hit by a train? What if there is a sewage backup and you need to send everyone home? 

Holloman’s answer is “just making actionable plans and putting them into action.”

He has plenty of experience. He has been the senior business continuity administrator at HCA Healthcare for the past six years and in the BC/DR profession for 10 years.

“Each day is different,” said Holloman. “Some days I am auditor, some days I am technical resource, but it’s always an adventure.”

Holloman will share his expertise virtually with DRJ Fall 2020 attendees with his presentation “Planning for a Successful IT Disaster Recovery Exercise.”

During his presentation, he will share how to plan a successful IT disaster recovery exercise from start to finish. He will also share how to plan for data center testing “when things are constantly moving and evolving.” He’ll also include a question-and-answer session during his presentation.

“IT DR testing doesn’t have to be overall complicated,” he said, “but there are ways to set it up to make it highly repeatable.”

Holloman offers advice to those who are new professionals in the field: “Don’t try to do it all. Figure out what you are interested in and dive in to that. There is so much you could learn, but follow what you want to learn.”

He also presented on the topic of IT disaster recovery testing due to the pandemic at a previous conference.

Holloman, CBCP, earned a bachelor’s degree from Belmont University, master’s degree in information security from Lipscomb University, and MBA from Tennessee Tech University. He started working in IT in 2009 and specifically in BC/DR in 2014.

He works with business and application owners to help them understand the requirements from a disaster recovery perspective as well as planning and executing testing for the data centers.

Holloman lives in Middle, Tenn., with his partner Alicia, “a good dog,” and a Chihuahua.

Read session description

Cary Jasgur

Like many people, Cary Jasgur naturally grew into his position. He started his career in finance and then transferred to IT. From there, resilience has always been a part of his job. He made the decision in 2007 to pursue organizational resilience full-time.

Nearly three decades later, Jasgur is manager of operational resilience at Mazars USA. He has been in the disaster recovery/business continuity profession for 26 years and six years at Mazars.

He says the feeling of knowing he is making a difference in the world no matter, regardless of the size of the organization, is what he most enjoys about BC/DR.

Jasgur’s DRJ Fall 2020 presentation is titled “Organizational Resilience: When Response and Recovery Are No Longer Enough.” He will co-present with his colleague Jacques.

According to Jasgur, every BC/DR professional has had to live through some disruptive event, whether it is a localized, regional, or global.

“While we try to plan for what might happen,” he said. “we can never really guess what will happen. Therefore, planning for future events can be very overwhelming.”

So how do professionals plan for the unknown? The simple answer is professionals cannot plan for every threat which may occur. However, Jasgur says there is a way to prepare one’s organization to be “ready, willing, and able to continue critical business operations when a disruption does occur.”

“We have heard stories where a convergence of enterprise risk management, business continuity, and disaster recovery can make an organization better poised to deal with an unexpected disruption,” said Jasgur.

However, what if traditional response and recovery are not enough? He said these are both reactionary steps to address any given disruption, often too little and too late to properly protect an organization.

“Transforming your organization into one that is more resilient will prepare your organization for unplanned disruptions by making changes within the organizational structure and firming up areas which increase overall resilience,” he said.

Jasgur’s session will aid today’s BC/DR professionals in transforming their organizations to a more resilient state, enabling those organizations to be better prepared when faced with an unplanned disruption.

This will be the fourth time Jasgur has presented at a DRJ conference and 10th time presenting at industry conferences. He has spoken on the topics of ERM, organizational resilience, personal preparedness, disaster recovery, building the perfect exercise, and several other industry-related topics.

To begin his presentation at DRJ Fall 2020, Jasgur plans to start by sharing an interesting recipe with attendees.

“This makes things a little less serious,” he said. “I find that if I do it somewhere in the early part of the presentation, people tend to pay more attention.”

Jasgur said, “I tend to make eye contact with as many of the audience members as possible. I find that this makes them feel like they are part of the experience rather than passive listeners.”

He said his presentation style is “more of an engaging discussion with questions thrown in to keep the discussion moving along, with a little humor to take the edge off.”

One “insider tip” Jasgur will share with attendees is how to find and build the “correct” program to meet their organizational needs.

As for COVID-19, Jasgur said they were able to continue operations at Mazars at about 90% normal. All employees were encouraged to work from a remote location.

“For my team, we have an entire new suite of services that we can offer on the other side of this,” he said, “to assist organizations not only in their recovery, but in putting safeguards in place should this occur again, or in this case potentially continue as a second wave.”

The one major change for him as a consultant was not being able to travel. All his client meetings had to be held remotely which presented a few challenges. Some clients put entire engagements on hold because they were not comfortable executing via remote services.
“Our offices around the country have not yet opened,” said Jasgur. “However, when they do there are enhanced security measures in place to ensure the safety of everyone entering our workplace.”

He said he will continue to work from his remote office. Once the travel ban has lifted, he expects to return to traveling if his clients are ready to have consultants on site again.
Jasgur offered advice to other professionals: “Take what your organizations have learned during this crisis and either on your own, or with the assistance of an outside organization, analyze what went well, what did not go so well, and adjust your current organizational resilience program so that your organization can lessen the impacts should something like this occur again.”

Within their entire firm, about 100 people were laid off and the remaining employees took a mandatory salary reduction for four months.

Jasgur, FBCI, MBCP, PMP, has been a consultant for nearly 15 years in finance, travel, higher education, television, banking, pharmaceuticals, and federal government. He is also involved with the DRJ Mentor Program as a mentor. He earned a bachelor’s degree in technical management and dual master’s degrees in organizational leadership and project leadership and management.

Currently, Jasgur lives in Washington, D.C.

“My company recently asked all of us to create three phases that tell a story about us,” he said. “Mine are as follows: wine enthusiast, animal activist, and world traveler.”

DRJ Fall 2020 will be held in-person at Phoenix’s JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort Sept. 28-Oct. 1. The conference – DRJ’s 63rd – will also be a full virtual experience for those who are unable to travel to Phoenix.

Read session description

Michael Jennings

Michael Jennings was inspired to join the business continuity/disaster recovery profession by a mentor of his who was very involved in the industry for a large financial institution in New York City. 

“He was very enthusiastic about assisting corporations to develop recovery plans and it caught on with me,” said Jennings.

Now, Jennings has been working in the industry for nearly 30 years. He has worked for the last two years as vice president of Assurance Software Inc.

Jennings enjoys helping organizations develop actionable recovery plans and working with a variety of clients as well.

He plans to share his expertise at DRJ Fall 2020 during his presentation “Pandemic Sanity Check: How the Practice of Business Continuity May Change and What You Can Do to Prepare.”

He will co-present with Ian Crabb, global head of strategy for Clearview and Assurance.

Jennings said a recent business continuity survey by Gartner stated that only 12% of organizations are highly prepared for the impact of coronavirus.

According to Jennings, “The novel coronavirus pandemic unexpectedly and quickly became the biggest influence on the survival of organizations worldwide.”

During his presentation, Jennings will provide analysis based on research studies and expertise to outline how the pandemic has already changed – and will continue to change – the practice of business continuity in the future. 

He will also ask attendees an important question on how this event has changed people’s understanding of what resilience means.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the need to continuously update an organization’s operating model,” Jennings said. “Many organizations struggled to adapt to quarantine and work-from-home scenarios.”

This is the second time Jennings will present at a DRJ conference.

For his upcoming presentation, he and Crabb will combine a lecture with Q&A and will share an “insider tip” regarding COVID-19 and how it has changed the way planning will be done in the future.

“Be open to change and the ‘new normal,’” said Jennings.

For new professionals in the industry, Jennings said they should “seek out opportunities, continue to educate yourself, and have fun doing your work.”

Jennings is vice president of advisory services with Assurance Software, Inc. and has more than 28 years of business continuity management, disaster recovery, and enterprise risk management experience. He has worked extensively with clients throughout the world on their BCM programs including the underlying incident management and crisis management programs.

He is a Certified Business Continuity Planner, Certified Data Center Professional, Certified Business Continuity Strategist, Common Security Framework Practitioner, Internal Controls Risk Analyst, ISMS Lead Implementer, and General Data Protection Regulation. 

Prior to joining Assurance Software, Inc., Jennings was the business continuity and disaster readiness executive for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts where he managed the enterprise business continuity, incident, and crisis management programs. In addition, he was the business continuity leader for their cyber incident response program.

Jennings has held senior-level practice management and consulting roles with RSM, Brocade Communications, Strohl Systems, and Iron Mountain. He is also an adjunct professor at Boston University where he teaches master’s level BCM and ERM courses.

He was a field artillery captain in the U.S. Army.

Jennings earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Norwich University and a master’s degree in business continuity, risk management, and security from Boston University.

He has been married to his wife, Kathy, for 33 years. They have two adult children.

Read session description

Ron Kamps

Ron Kamps has worked for almost 20 years as a business continuity professional and is business resilience manager at Mutual of Enumclaw.

Working at AT&T prior to Y2K inspired Kamps to join the business continuity/disaster recovery profession. Viewing all the activity around preparing for a soon-to-be disaster was something which intrigued him. He was interested in the concept of prevention and mitigation.

When he learned of an entry-level position after Y2K, he applied.

Kamps enjoys several aspects of working in the BC/DR profession. First, he likes interacting with the entire organization as well as partnering with other business units to assist them with accomplishing their goals. In addition, he appreciates the fact that he can help instill confidence within leaders through plan creation, exercises, reporting, and activities. He also likes the ability to teach and remove the “mystery and confusion” around BC/DR as well as integrating various business resilience areas into a cohesive program.

During his presentation titled “How to Create a Cyber Response Plan When You Are a CBCP and NOT a CISSP,” Kamps will discuss his experience with his current employer. 

“I knew that my No. 1 task was to create a cyber response plan,” he said, “and this presentation will be presented from the perspective of someone with business continuity experience and not a cybersecurity expert.”

Kamps will share lessons, tips, and successes. He will also tell about going from no official cyber response plan to a documented plan, pocket guides, electronic documents, vendor relationships, internal process maturity, quarterly exercises, and integration within his business resilience program.

“We have to educate and explain before we design and develop,” he said. “Business continuity is a lot like success because everyone has their own definition.”

Kamps has presented at several previous conferences in the profession.

For his DRJ Fall 2020 virtual conference presentation, he initially seeks his audience’s feedback through interaction to guide his session. He also injects some “lightness into the subject to put people at ease.”

“I am a regular Joe, not a vendor,” he said, “so I can inject actual real-life situations and relate to the real work.”

One “insider tip” Kamps will share with attendees is how to apply what works and is successful in one area of a BC/DR program to another area or activity.

Kamps begin his business continuity career following Y2K and earned his CBCP in 2002. He has developed, redesigned, implemented, managed, and matured business continuity programs at six companies including three Fortune 500. Due to mergers and acquisitions, he has had the unique opportunity to work within telecommunications, airlines, banking, and insurance industries. 

He is currently the business resilience manager at Mutual of Enumclaw, a mid-sized insurance company, where he is afforded the opportunity to develop a holistic business resilience program which integrates crisis management, disaster recovery, business continuity, emergency response, cyber response, and workplace violence.

Kamps is a frequent speaker at both national and regional conferences where he shares his pragmatic approach to simplifying the mystery around business resilience activities. He was selected by Peace Winds America for the U.S.-Vietnam Disaster Preparedness Initiative where he worked in Hai Phong, Seattle’s sister city, on business resilience training. 

He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington. He is a native of that state and enjoys all outdoor activities of the great Pacific Northwest, especially sailing.

Kamps offers some advice to new professionals who are new to BC/DR:

-Don’t be afraid of the mundane tasks – someone has to do them.

-Make it as easy as possible for your customers to complete their required tasks.

-Help other business units to succeed.

-Start small and build momentum, your confidence, and credibility.

-Create a reasonable program which fits the culture in which you work.

-Make sure you have an oversight group over the program.

During COVID-19 closures, his company initially scrambled to order new equipment, upgrade VPN and ISP capacity, and build out remote workstations for staff. 

“Luckily we were monitoring COVID in January and started to take action before it became the norm,” he said. “Once staff settled into working from home, we have stabilized and this is the current new norm.”

Kamps initially took on additional project management work to assist the heavy load of the IT department in setting up staff to work from home. He provided the priority list, based on business processes, from which IT worked. Fortunately, their last cyber exercise was conducted 100% remote the first time. 

His current role is the same as prior to COVID-19: continue working on BC plans, conduct exercises, and project manage activities. 

He said as of mid-summer, their company has been 100% remote since mid-March with about nine people who remain in the home office for mail and print functions. All others work remotely from home. 

In the future, Kamps sees a reduced requirement for staff to work in offices and more options to work from home or hybrid.

Although developed plans might not be followed 100%, he said that is “based on the actual situation and the actual impact. Be flexible.”

DRJ Fall 2020 will be a full state-of-the-art virtual experience held Sept. 28-Oct. 1. This year’s event themed “Focus on the Future of Resiliency” is DRJ’s 63rd conference.

Read session description

James Knox

Ever since James Knox was a Boy Scout, he always had the mentality to be prepared.

Now more than 20 years later, he has had a successful career in the business continuity/disaster recovery profession. He is currently vice president of Business Continuity Risk Management. 

Knox will be a co-presenter with Keith Frederick at DRJ Fall 2020 in Phoenix. 

Their presentation is titled “Resiliency Begins with the Culture of Your People: Don’t Start Your Program Tripping Over the First Steps.”

Knox and Frederick will share with attendees how programs often focus on system recovery, redundant supply chains, and tangible company assets but forget it takes people to run the business. How do professionals maintain operations when their personnel have their own personal impacts? 

“This presentation focuses on how to ensure your people are prepared personally,” said Knox, “which ensures their safety and availability for recovery.”

The duo plan to provide information through a lecture and group-involved discussion. They will also share with their participants how people can achieve millions of dollars in savings “for literally no cost.”

“This program element will have the greatest ROI for you and your company,” said Knox.

In addition, Knox will share with attendees how always being prepared is a lifestyle which saved his own life in the Bearing Sea.

He added that BC/DR professionals often become “the source of record for many within your company and the source for help not only when things go bad but in preparation for change.”

This will be Knox’s first time to present at a DRJ conference. 

Knox has several certifications including AFBCI, MBCP, CBCP, and ITIL V3. He is a former Montana legislator and has double bachelor’s degrees in IT. 

He has been married for 19 years to “literally an angel” and has one daughter and two sons. He loves to go rock crawling in his Jeep, fishing, hunting, and “general exploring.”

“My one habit is cigars and bourbon – yes, one for one requires the other!” he said.

Knox offered some advice to individuals who are new to the profession: “always ask ‘what if’ and never be the quietest person in the room.” 

DRJ Fall 2020 will be held in-person at Phoenix’s JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort Sept. 28-Oct. 1. The conference – DRJ’s 63rd – will also be a full virtual experience for those who are unable to travel to Phoenix.

Read session description

Bob Lamendola

Bob Lamendola said he is driven by the fact that even to this day, business continuity and disaster recovery plans are often overlooked. Throughout his career, his goal has been to change that norm.

“In the past, cost was an overriding factor in decision-making related to BC/DR strategies,” he said. “Today, the exploitation of cloud technologies and flexible architectures have significantly minimized cost as a barrier.”

Now, he said the options are available today to creatively meet any BC/DR requirement are “exciting, relevant, and important.”

Lamendola has held his current position as vice president of infrastructure and engineering services for Ricoh USA, Inc. for more than a year. He has also held various technology leadership positions within Ricoh IT Services and mindSHIFT Technologies, a Ricoh company, for nearly 20 years. Before mindSHIFT, he was an information technology leader for a global semiconductor manufacturer.

“Math and science have always piqued my interest,” he said. “As a result, in high school, I was exposed to computer science and decided to make that the focus of my continuing education.”

Once Lamendola entered the workplace and participated in the rapid evolution of technology, he was “hooked” – and still is today.

He offered advice to others working the the profession: never presume that one size fits all.

“Allow the customer’s requirements and a thorough understanding of the three pillars of BC/DR planning – RPO, RTO, and budget – to dictate the solution path,” he said. “In the end, these are still business decisions and not technology decisions.”

Lamendola will share his years of expertise with virtual attendees of DRJ Fall 2020 with his presentation “How to Build a Modern Data Protection Strategy.”

According to Lamendola, data is the lifeblood of business and critical to an organization’s success. 

“Businesses rely on their stored key documents and information to effectively function each day,” he said. “If your business had to shut down because it did not have a data protection strategy, what would happen?”

This session will cover the ways businesses should evaluate their data protection needs and how to create a strategy which is right for their needs and budget. Specifically, this session will include a breakdown of RTO – how quickly an organization needs to recover; RPO – how much data loss a business can withstand; and budget – how much money is available to spend.

One of the initial things Lamendola will teach participants is that BC/DR tests which fail are not actually failures.  

After Lamendola’s session, attendees will be able to identify the key factors needed to take full advantage of an effective data protection, backup, and recovery plan whether it is an on-premise solution or utilizes of today’s cloud options.

Lamendola plans to share a few personal stories with participants. One is how his first DR test took more than 72 hours to complete. The team slept in shifts, largely ate pizza, and “spent too much time together.”

He said, “Although the results were not perfect, the experience left a lasting impression and guided much of my thought process today regarding BC/DR planning.”

Lamendola will present information in a combination of lecture and Q&A and will share how to build the modern data protection strategy.

From engineering and design to daily operations, Lamendola leads all aspects of Ricoh’s IT service infrastructure. In his role as vice president of infrastructure and engineering services, he is responsible for the evolution and optimal utilization of the company’s services delivery infrastructure, technology, processes, systems, and solutions. These services also focus on providing technology leadership and escalation support across the organization’s entire services portfolio including IT services and service delivery innovations to maximize customer value.

Lamendola has been with Ricoh for more than 15 years and has held numerous leadership roles within the IT services organization including administration of the managed hosting, application development, and ITS infrastructure and support teams. He also served previously as vice president of information technology at an international semiconductor manufacturer. 

He earned a bachelor’s degree in computer and information science from Bloomsburg University.

While many businesses and organizations closed completely during the COVID-19 pandemic, Lamendola said Ricoh continued to proudly support organizations in mission-critical sectors including healthcare; grocery stores; financial institutions; energy and utilities; education; and federal, state, and local government. This included opening their warehouse facilities to provide on-site customer service to adhere to social distancing guidelines and an increased focus on employee, customer, and partner safety.

Employees who were able to work from home began doing so in March.

Lamendola said his role did not change during the pandemic. However, he adapted to the new challenges brought on by the impact of the pandemic. For example, he assisted with supporting other back-office functions who were less accustomed to working remotely.

Ricoh’s COVID-19 task force, which included senior leadership, continually meet to review the newest developments and to make prompt decisions. It has now become mainstream for employees who can work from home to continue to do so.

“The new normal continues to be a hybrid workplace,” said Lamendola. “Our adoption of collaboration toolsets has increased dramatically, even for the traditionalists, that it has become the standard work style for the organization.”

Lamendola said he senses there will be far greater sensitivity to general health and workforce safety awareness with more emphasis on collaboration and productivity. 

“Research has demonstrated that human, in-person interaction is an important contribution to good mental health,” he said. “As a result, I anticipate there may be more of a focus across businesses on how to address this need, no matter where their workplaces – remote or in an office – are.”

Read session description

Ron LaPedis

Thirty-one years. That’s how long Ron LaPedis has been in business continuity.

He is currently managing director at Seacliff Partners International LLC.

LaPedis became interested in business continuity in late 1988 when he learned his company’s backup tapes were stored in safes on the loading dock. 

“I developed a ‘plan for a plan’ for management but was turned down due to the expense,” he said. 

But he got his funding after the October 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. 

Years later, LaPedis most enjoys working with the people in this industry. 

He’s looking forward to presenting at DRJ Fall 2020. His presentation, titled “Best Practices from the YouTube Shooting,” 

In his presentation, LaPedis will set the scene and ask several questions. First responders are arriving at your location and you have no idea why. What you don’t know is you have an active shooter situation and someone dialed 911. When the first responders arrive, will they be going in blind? Will they have to shoot their way through locked doors because no one knows where the keys are? Are there hazardous chemicals, processes, or areas which they need to stay away from? Do you have private armed security who could become targets when officers see their guns?

LaPedis will share with attendees how two lives were saved because someone attended a bleeding wound. And he says participants will be surprised to learn how the person was saved.

“Anyone can stop the bleed if you know how,” he said.

He will present information through lecture and multiple team exercises and also offer advice. Material will be provided by law enforcement training companies which can be used within attendees’ own organizations at no charge.

“When officers tell you to come out of a room with your hands up and empty, please listen.”

LaPedis has experience presenting at several past DRJ conferences on topics including active shooters, cybersecurity, and emergency response.

He offered advice to those new in the profession: “Listen and learn. Find a mentor if you can. Check your ego at the door, don’t be afraid to be wrong, and have a sense of humor about things that go wrong because they can and will. Always ask for advice and don’t blame people for bringing mistakes to your attention. Learning from your mistakes is golden.”

LaPedis, who lives in the San Francisco Bay area, has multiple certifications including FBCI, MBCP, CISSP-ISSAP, and ISSMP. He is also an NRA certified pistol instructor and California DOJ certified firearms instructor. In addition, he is a member of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association, a volunteer first responder with the San Mateo County sheriff’s office, and writer for law enforcement publications.

DRJ Fall 2020 will be held in-person at Phoenix’s JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort Sept. 28-Oct. 1. The conference – DRJ’s 63rd – will also be a full virtual experience for those who are unable to travel to Phoenix.

Read session description

Shane Mathew

Shane Mathew leads the consulting and software implementation services for Virtual Corporation. He has led the creation and implementation of business continuity programs for several organizations and consulted with numerous others over the years.

As a consultant, many clients were faced with the immediate impacts of shifting to working from home. Projects slowed down as employees figured out new procedures.

“We shifted to building up our internal processes which we’d deprioritized when times were busy,” said Mathew. 

Because they were already a completely virtual workforce, Mathew and fellow employees did not experience any new issues with working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mathew, MPH, CBCP, has been vice president of professional services for Virtual Corporation for nearly three years and worked in the BC/DR profession for 15 years.

When Mathew first began working in the BC/DR industry, he worked for a local public health department’s partnership with the CDC leading the bioterrorism preparedness program. In that grant-funded position, he was asked to develop business continuity plans for the department which led to his certification and then taking on a full-time role within BC.

“I like the people aspect,” said Mathew, “solving issues with various stakeholders around an organization, learning about their parts of the business, and then determining ways to improve their ability to remain productive during a disruption.”

He offered advice to professionals new to the industry.

“Learn the art of people skills fast and use them frequently,” he said. “Business continuity isn’t rocket science, though it can be challenging. If you learn that your program’s brand is just as important as the results you produce, you will be successful.”

Mathew will share his experiences with attendees of his DRJ Fall 2020 presentation “Good to Great Business Continuity: What Some BC Programs Do to Separate Themselves from the Rest.”

In this presentation, he will compare and contrast each of the various business continuity paradigms and identify the common benchmarks for success. Those benchmarks will then be used to review a set of elite business continuity programs which have been made the leap from good to great, defined by their ability to achieve great results, sustain over time, and are integrated into all aspects of the business.

Mathew said they will also examine how these companies navigated the muddy waters of the pandemic and compare their results against a set of programs which failed to make the leap to determine if their approach and the benchmarks set by the business continuity models are or aren’t determinants of greatness.

He will share knowledge and learnings from programs which he has encountered “that really knew how to establish themselves as a value-add to their organization.”

“I think we’ve got to develop a systematic view on what a great BC program includes,” he said. “Without it, we’re really just setting ourselves up for a program reboot when we leave or when we’re asked to leave.”

Mathew has presented at previous DRJ conferences on risk identification methods he has used in programs he built, brand value creation, and crisis management psychology.

He plans to connect with his audience through lecture and by incorporating polling and questions of the audience to encourage their participation. 

Mathew said attendees “will leave with at least three focus areas/qualities that great programs tend to have.”

Read session description

Anne-Marie McLaughlin

Anne-Marie McLaughlin said building resilience is energizing. 

“The work that we do to prepare organizations is incredibly practical,” she said. “COVID-19 has not been easy for anyone, but we can clearly see that organizations with strong continuity and emergency management programs have been better able to manage the challenges.”

McLaughlin has been director of emergency management and continuity at New York University for nearly three years. She’s worked in the business continuity and disaster recovery profession for a decade.

She enjoys the industry’s collaborative nature of work.

“We cannot build resiliency alone,” she said. 

This means every critical department and function must be engaged, and working with people from across the organization and learning from them are necessities.

She said it’s also “tremendously rewarding” and offered advice to those who are new to the profession: “find leadership that believes in what you do.” She added that if the employees do not feel valued either personally or professionally, then they should find an organization which believes in investing in resilience.

McLaughlin will be a co-presenter with Jack Briggs, vice president for global resiliency and security at NYU, at DRJ’s upcoming virtual conference with “Putting Plans into Action: Speeding Response Locally and Globally.”

During her presentation, she will use her experiences from NYU to describe how professionals should use data driven by technology to make actionable continuity plans.

Because NYU is a global enterprise, McLaughlin said many lessons have been learned the from COVID-19 pandemic which will “illustrate the importance of actionable plans as opposed to plans prepared for audit primarily.”

McLaughlin said she disagrees with the statement, “Plans are nothing, but planning is everything.”

She explained that planning is valuable, but plans should be too.

“We want to be able to access the data we need in the moment when we need it to safeguard our campus, community, property, and operations.”

McLaughlin said she and Briggs will show how they distinguish continuity for audit from continuity for action because the two are not mutually exclusive. 

Read session description

Eric McNulty and Dr. Steven Goldman

Eric McNulty and Dr. Steven Goldman will co-present “Meta-Leadership in COVID-19 and Beyond” at DRJ’s upcoming virtual conference.

The duo will share how the pandemic has shown the importance of leadership to an effective response and recovery efforts as well as overall social cohesion. They will present core principles and pragmatic practices for leading with greater impact through the challenges of a complex crisis.

“In a crisis, effective leadership matters as much as efficient management,” said McNulty. “Understanding how the two complement each other is critical to overall success.”

Goldman added, “Leaders do not say, ‘We didn’t expect it,’” he said. “They expect a crisis. Leaders do not say, ‘We weren’t prepared.’ They make sure their organization is prepared.”

McNulty has presented at two previous DRJ conferences. Goldman has done so almost every year since 1994.

Goldman and McNulty will include an “insider tip” during their general session keynote address on what meta-leadership is during a crisis and how it can be applied to an organization. They will provide a PDF of their slide presentation as well as a link to an article they will reference on meta-leadership.

McNulty offered important advice to professionals who are new to the industry.

“Start building relationships from day one,” he said. “This is a community as much as a profession.”

He also said to commit to lifelong learning because long-term success is dependent on one’s ability to continue to grow and expand their horizons.

McNulty has been associate director for the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative for the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health for the past 12 years. He is an educator, researcher, author, and speaker whose work centers on leadership in high-stakes, high-stress situations and in mission-centered organizations. 

In addition to his teaching, McNulty assists with several executive education programs at Harvard, MIT, and other academic institutions and private sector organizations worldwide. 

He is author of numerous articles in scholarly and general-interest publications. He is also principal author of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI) case studies on leadership decision making in the Boston Marathon bombing response, innovation in the response to Hurricane Sandy, and the professional and political interface in the Deepwater Horizon response when he used his firsthand research and extensive interviews with leaders involved in the responses.

McNulty is an ardent environmentalist. His interest in nature spurred the development of the concept of swarm leadership at the NPLI. 

He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a master’s degree in leadership from Leslie University. 

Goldman is an internationally recognized expert and consultant in business continuity, crisis management, pandemic response, and crisis communications. He has more than 35 years of experience in various aspects of these disciplines including program management, plan development, training, exercises, and response strategies. 

His background is comprehensive yet unique because he has been a professional engineer, corporate spokesperson, manager of media relations, business continuity planner, crisis responder, consultant, and a Fortune 500 Company’s global business continuity program manager. 

In addition, Goldman has published many articles and conducts several seminars annually on various aspects of business continuity, crisis management, pandemic response, and crisis communications.

Goldman is co-founder and director of MIT’s “Crisis Management and Business Resiliency” professional education summer course. He has been director of crisis management courses at MIT for the past 15 years but has worked in the overall business continuity/disaster recovery profession for 35 years.

Read session description

Steven O’Neal

Steven O’Neal joined the business continuity/disaster recovery profession because he wanted to keep businesses operational through tough times.

Including eight years in sales, O’Neal has worked for 12 years as operations manager at Rentsys Recovery, 23 years recovering various size organizations, and is now enterprise relationship manager.

“Everyone has a story with something to learn,” said O’Neal. “Pictures and stories make disasters real and relevant for those who have never been in one.”

He also said testing “must be in the plan or it really isn’t a plan but a hope.”

O’Neal will co-present with Mark Carroll, income research, at DRJ Fall 2020’s virtual conference. Their presentation is titled “When the Music Stops Everyone Sits Down.”

This presentation will include a guided discussion with audience participation on what, where, and how the BC role should be placed within an organization.

O’Neal will include insider tips during the presentation such as how BC should be placed under the department “which has the greatest risk impact to the organization.”

He said, “There actually is a sweet spot for BC to live within an organization.”

In addition, O’Neal said the “IT department is not the best place for the BC role.”

O’Neal has presented for more than 10 years at DRJ conferences. He has shared his expertise on technical and non-technical aspects of testing the plan. 

He most enjoys his “passionate colleagues and a feeling of worth throughout the timeline of major disasters to our country over the past 23 years.”

O’Neal started a unique disaster recovery career early as a teenager when he searched for downed aircraft as a member of the Civil Air Patrol in Oklahoma. He spent seven years in the U.S. Marine Corps as an Arabic cryptologic linguist and graduated from the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif. He ended his tour with the United Nations Special Commission searching for biological weapons of mass destruction in Baghdad, Iraq, in 1996. 

In 1997, he began working with Rentsys Recovery and attained multiple hardware and software certifications as well as an associate degree in computer science from Central Texas College. 

As operations manager of Rentsys Recovery, O’Neal managed the response of 43 simultaneous declarations in 205 due to hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. 

O’Neal now resides in College Station, Texas, with his wife and two sons. He serves as vice chair of the Brazos County Local Emergency Planning Committee and as CSC chief of the Bryan College Station FBI InfraGard group educating businesses on cyberattack prevention and response.

During closures due to COVID-19 this past spring, O’Neal worked from home. A few changes were made at his employment during this time which included cautious deployment procedures to keep operations personnel safe. 

O’Neal said changes for the future as a result of this pandemic may likely be “better understanding of how business can be impacted by external events.”

DRJ Fall 2020 will be a full state-of-the-art virtual experience held Sept. 28-Oct. 1. This year’s event themed “Focus on the Future of Resiliency” is DRJ’s 63rd conference.

Read session description

Regina Phelps

Regina Phelps is an internationally recognized thought leader in the field of emergency management, pandemic, and contingency planning. She has provided consultation, training, and speaking services to clients on four continents since 1982. 

She will be sharing personal stories from her 37 years of industry experience with attendees of DRJ Fall 2020 at three different events during the upcoming virtual conference. 

During her general session, Phelps will answer the question of how one develops a crisis management program for a large global company one step at a time. 

She will co-present this session with Sean Robinson, head of resilience for LabCorp. 

Topics to be covered during this session include the incident command system and why this methodology should be used; tiers and the value of segmenting one’s organization; incident assessment teams and criteria; and crisis management plans.

During her one-hour session, Phelps will prepare attendees for a cyber breach. 

According to Phelps, few companies have serious plans for how they will respond to the impact of an actual cyber event – and even fewer stress-test those plans. So how can professionals prepare for the impact of a cyberattack or breach? They need to conduct a cyber exercise to use real-time situation analysis and decision-making to clearly demonstrate what is needed in order to cope with the loss of technology.

This session shows business continuity planners, crisis managers, and IT counterparts how to stage a cyber breach exercise to test preparedness, reveal “hidden” circumstances, and sharpen the responsiveness of everyone from top executives to front-line business managers and technologies. 

Participants of this session will learn how to develop a realistic cyber exercise to challenge the crisis management team, technology staff, and business units.

Topics to be covered during this event will include what a cyber exercise is and isn’t; eight critical elements which make a cyber exercise work; what happens when everything stops working; and cyber breach exercise design principles.

In addition, Phelps will present a workshop regarding COVID-19.

“The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has changed our lives in ways that we would have never imagined before,” she said. “The widespread work-from-home orders in many states, the closing of offices and manufacturing facilities have taken its toll.”

So where do professionals go from this point?

Phelps’ workshop will analyze the global health crisis from three vantage points: crisis management, business continuity, and infectious disease and pandemic planning. She will also answer many critical questions and reflect on how this crisis can be used as an opportunity to strengthen organizations’ overall crisis management and business continuity plans and teams. 

She will discuss “the good news and bad news about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic” during this workshop.

Phelps plans to connect with her audience through all of her speaking events with a dynamic lecture and sharing personal stories.   

She is president of Emergency Management & Safety Solutions Inc., a consulting firm. She first started working in the profession to try “to save and change the world … really.”

Her niche includes crisis management team development, pandemic planning, and the development of exercises for large global companies. A partial client list includes Whole Foods Market, Visa, the World Bank, Starbucks, HSBC, City National Bank, EllieMae, Bank of Peru, Bank of Colombia, the Graduate Institute of Geneva, IMF, Bank of Canada, and Dell Computers.

Phelps earned a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University, master’s degree from San Francisco State University, and CEM certification from the International Association of Emergency Managers.

She has been involved civically in a variety of issues since 1984 including business community, women’s boards and commissions, environmental and bird boards, and commissions and social issues.

Phelps resides in San Francisco and enjoys traveling. She has visited more than 85 countries and recently returned from a two-week trip to Morocco. She is also an avid bird watcher and environmentalist. She is “married to a great man who says he loves strong women … and he actually means it!” 

DRJ Fall 2020 will be a full state-of-the-art virtual experience held Sept. 28-Oct. 1. This year’s event themed “Focus on the Future of Resiliency” is DRJ’s 63rd conference.

Read session description

Patrick Potter

Patrick Potter enjoys consulting with organizations to help them improve their business continuity/disaster recovery capabilities.

“I love helping people and organizations improve their businesses,” he said, “and a critical part of that is how prepared they are.”

Potter is a risk strategist for RSA. He has been employed at RSA for nine years and in the overall BC/DR profession for more than 30 years.

He says getting as much practical experience as possible, combined with education and certifications, is important. “But get that real-life experience while you’re educating yourself.”

Potter will be sharing his own experiences during DRJ Fall 2020 with his presentation “Fighting Cyber Attacks Requires More Than Security – It Requires Cyber Resiliency.”

According to Potter, cyberattacks are the No. 1 risk on almost every organization’s agenda – and these attacks are becoming more pervasive, sophisticated, and creative. Combatting them requires more than security measures. Responding to them requires more than incident response. Recovering from them requires more than business and IT recovery plans.

“Dealing proactively and effectively with today’s cyberattacks’ demands an approach that combines security and resiliency, business and IT, incident an crisis response, risk and third-party management, and more,” he said.

Attendees will learn more during Potter’s session about tomorrow’s cyberattacks and what resilient organizations can do to effectively deal with them and not only survive but thrive.

He will also discuss how and why cyberattacks have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Organizations everywhere continue to innovate and transform digitally, even during this pandemic,” said Potter, “and it’s critical to build resiliency, be competitive, and thrive.”

An “insider tip” he will share with attendees is how resiliency and cybersecurity are connected in theory in so many ways and how to connect them practically and effectively.

Potter, CPA, CISA, CBCP, has presented at DRJ conferences many times on BCM, risk management, cybersecurity, and third-party risk management.

He has more than three decades of experience leading risk management; compliance; internal audit; business resiliency; strategic planning; process improvement; and related activities within financial services, education, healthcare, hospitality, and energy and airline industries. His experience has been in both practitioner and consulting roles.

Potter is currently a risk strategist and subject matter expect for RSA where he provides strategic input into the development of risk-related solutions for RSA and advises customers on best practices.

He has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Northern Arizona University and a master’s degree from Thunderbird School of Global Management.

Potter lives in Phoenix. He enjoys traveling with his wife and spending time with his kids and extended family. In addition, he likes to hike, cook, and work out.

DRJ Fall 2020 will be a full state-of-the-art virtual experience held Sept. 28-Oct. 1. This year’s event themed “Focus on the Future of Resiliency” is DRJ’s 63rd conference.

Read session description

Tracey Rice

Tracey Rice’s love for adventure first inspired her to join the business continuity and disaster recovery profession.

After graduating from the University of the West of Scotland, an opportunity arose for Rice to work in software development in the U.S.

“And the rebel in me jumped at the chance,” she said. 

Rice said she was young, ambitious, and excited to experience the thrill of working and living in another country. Little did she know that a one-year experiment would turn into more than 20 years in business continuity. 

At the time, she had very little knowledge of the industry but found it intriguing. 

“I naturally gravitated toward customer-facing roles because I thrive off establishing meaningful connections with clients,” she said. 

Rice has been employed as senior vice president of customer success at Fusion Risk Management for the past four years. She has been working in the industry for the past 20 years.

“Working with individuals across all levels in an organization is how I discovered what is so special and energizing about the resilience space,” she said. “This industry is incredibly unique, as are the professionals that serve in it.”

She said BC/DR professionals work together “both in and out of crisis” and “there is a real sense of community, a willingness to share experiences, advice, and information to help each other be resilient.”

Rice offered important advice to those who are new in the profession.

“Passion, energy, positive attitude, and excellent communication skills are important traits to be a successful leader in our industry,” she said. 

One of her favorite sayings is, “If you want to be seen as a good leader, then act like one.”

Rice believes in leading by example. “Show people how things are done and inspire them to realize they, too, can accomplish the same things. It’s incredibly gratifying to show others what is possible and then watch the magic happen!”

According to Rice, determination and a can-do attitude go a long way in the BC/DR industry. Having the conviction to take on and complete difficult tasks is a must.

“Communication jumps out as one of the key skills for success,” she said, “because we are required to communicate with all levels in an organization so we must be able to identify different personalities and adapt our messaging accordingly.”

She explained that behavioral assessment tools such as DiSC have been a great resource to her in learning how to engage others effectively.

Rice continued, “I’m a big fan of building your brand. Your personal brand is all about who you are and how you want to be known.” She said the “Tracey Forbes Rice” brand has helped frame her desired role in the industry, establish goals, and have a vision for her career path.

She asked the question, “Do you have a brand?”

Her follow-up answer is, “If so, gold star for you!”

For those who do not have a brand, she suggests they start building it to help them communicate clearly and inspire them.

Rice plans to share her two decades of experience with virtual attendees of DRJ Fall 2020 with her presentation “Post COVID-19 – The New Normal.”

According to Rice, her interactive session will offer participants the chance to learn from the experience, insights, and lessons from industry leaders who will show how they have grown and adapted to new working hours, virtual meetings, and working from home while effectively balancing leadership roles and family responsibilities. 

“You will leave this session feeling emotional but inspired as you hear first-hand stories of grit, determination, fear, joy, empathy, and compassion,” she said.

Rice will co-present with a panel including Sue Hornstra, vice president of DRJ Career Development; Margaret Millett, MSc Business Continuity and MetLife; Sharon Smith, senior manager of HBO; and Sue Brown, vice president of BC/DR for Guggenheim.

“I believe our industry is unique, where we work together both in and out of crisis,” she said. “We share experiences, advice, and information to help people, companies, infrastructure, and our worlds be resilient. That’s really cool!”

She said virtual attendees will leave this DRJ Fall 2020 session feeling inspired and determined to navigate the complexities of COVID-19.

Rice is vice chairperson of the U.S. Chapter Content Committee of the Business Continuity Institute and a member of BCI Women in Resilience. She is a member of the editorial advisory board, chairperson of career development, and mentor advisory board member of Disaster Recovery Journal. In addition, she is a mentor for women in business continuity for the Disaster Recovery Institute International and member of the Liberty Valley Chapter of the Association of Continuity Professionals and Philadelphia Network of Women in Careers in Technology.

She attended the University of Paisley and lives with her husband in Philadelphia. She enjoys riding her bike and gardening.

Read session description

Dr. Jo Robertson

Dr. Jo Robertson has been working for 20 years to help keep companies out of crisis. She started her career as a journalist on the top-rated prime time newscast in the country. It seemed to be a logical choice to jump to the other side of the fence to work with companies to help them better understand what the media was going to say about them if they are in a crisis.

Robertson teaches these companies how to stay out of crises in the first place.

She also thoroughly enjoys teaching crisis management or giving seminars.

“I enjoy seeing heads nod as the concepts start making sense and are getting internalized,” she said.

She offered advice to professionals who are new to the industry: “Challenge best practice! There’s too much repetition of old, outdated information that’s no longer relevant.”

Robertson said those who are new in the business continuity/disaster recovery profession should challenge “what has always been” by asking to see the data when someone claims something is “best practice.”

“There just isn’t data to support many of these cardinal rules any longer,” she said.

This is something Robertson will be addressing virtually at DRJ Fall 2020 during her presentation “The NEW Rules of Crisis Leadership.”

According to Robertson, many organizations wait until they are in a crisis and then hire a PR firm to “swoop in to wordsmith their way out of it.”

Robertson’s presentation addresses how business leaders would be better served by understanding key crisis concepts themselves and tailoring them to their own situation. The seminar includes new twists on “best practice” – to update the common understanding of what elevates good crisis management beyond wordsmithing. Instead of lists of the items which are necessary for a solid crisis plan or well-stocked war room, professionals will find key things to consider as they tailor strategies for their own organization.

“In fact, this seminar shoots down best practices that are outdated yet continue to be repeated and focuses instead on creating best practices that are tangible and useable for your organization,” said Robertson. 

When she trains media execs, Robertson said they always start by grumbling that it doesn’t matter what they say since the media’s just going to edit them out of context. “I’m going to give you a bullet-proof strategy for making sure they don’t.”

She said, “No effective crisis response begins on the day of the crisis.”

Robertson will interact with her virtual attendees with a back-and-forth discussion to make the material much more tangible.

She plans to share an “insider tip” with participants by showing them “how to see a gray rhino and plan for them effectively in your organization.”

Robertson’s presentation is based on her best-selling book “Executing Crisis: A C-Suite Crisis Leadership Survival Guide.” Conference attendees will be able to purchase the book at a discount.

Robertson has a doctoral degree in crisis management from George Washington University, a master’s degree in journalism from American University and a bachelor’s degree in communications from Pennsylvania State University.

She has more than 20 years of experience keeping companies out of crisis. 

As global director of emergency preparedness for Capital One, she was responsible for orchestrating the creation of a coordinated universal emergency preparedness program and the leadership of 2,500 life safety team members. As director of crisis preparedness for Arkema, she rebuilt and re-energized crisis preparedness initiatives and acted as a trusted advisor to C-Suite execs for France’s leading chemicals producer. At Deloitte Services, Robertson led the national crisis management program for more than 100 offices. As vice president of Marsh Crisis Consulting, she delivered crisis communications planning, media training, real-time support, and complex crisis management exercises for Fortune 500 clients.

Robertson spent the first half of her career as a TV journalist and was responsible for new stories which initiated change at the highest levels of government, including a reversal of policy at the Pentagon.

Read session description

Steve Ramirez

It was actually by accident that Steven Ramirez began working in business continuity/disaster recovery. 

He had always wanted to be in risk management. In 2010, he was working as an intern when his director said, “Give the IT stuff to the millennial.”

“Seeing the way healthcare and the rest of society was moving toward technology – the early stages of what we know as the digital transportation – we know that it’s a matter of time until an incident occurs to interrupt technology or business operations,” said Ramirez. “Being able to help organizations plan for interruptions and mitigate risk was an easy way that I could help give back.”

Ramirez began working as a CISO for UofL Health in January. He has been in the BC/DR profession for 10 years.

He most enjoys knowing that his work will have a meaningful impact on the organization he supports. 

“This is even more important in healthcare,” he said, “because BC/DR helps ensure quality/patient care.”

Ramirez said a BC/DR professional should be “a man of the people because BC/DR impacts everyone. It is essential to earn trust so relationship building and consistency are key to ensuring success in the field.”

During his presentation “Implementing a Successful Cyber Resiliency Program in Healthcare” at the DRJ Fall 2020 virtual conference, Ramirez will discuss the risk landscape of healthcare and its continuous volatility. 

“This session will speak of what is cyber resilience and why it is important in healthcare,” he said. 

Vu cap will co-present with Ramirez. 

This will be Ramirez’s first time presenting at a DRJ conference. He will share information with attendees through lecture and Q&A.

Ramirez, CISM and CBCP, will discuss how attendees should prepare their healthcare organizations for a devastating cyberattack which could take place at any time. He will also share how the possible severity of the breach might dictate healthcare entities to prepare a plan to continue to run its operations at full capacity to minimally impact patients. 

“In today’s varied risk environment, it isn’t a matter of if, it’s when the best plan of attacks is to go on the offense to plan, react, and mitigate the impact of an attack,” he said. 

Ramirez said he will show participants how to leverage metrics and data to help them quantify their risk. 

He will also discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and how it affected his employer. 

“Healthcare isn’t your typical remote environment and we had to come up with a plan to send over 800 people home,” said Ramirez. 

He said, “The importance of security was re-enforced and I was made a focal point for technologies used by the remote workforce.”

Ramirez and staff were forced to embrace the digital transformation and remote capabilities. Now, staff are successfully able to work from remote locations.

Because of COVID-19, Ramirez feels more organizations will embrace a remote workforce.

He has a Masters in Healthcare Administration degree and a master’s in safety, security, and emergency management.

Ramirez is originally from California but has lived in Washington, D.C., Austin, Texas, and now Louisville, Ky. He enjoys traveling and needs “a BC/DR plan for my golf game.”

DRJ Fall 2020 will be a full state-of-the-art virtual experience held Sept. 28-Oct. 1. This year’s event themed “Focus on the Future of Resiliency” is DRJ’s 63rd conference.

Read session description

Kenyon Salo

He is one of the top keynote speakers and trainers in the fields of inspiration, leadership, and adventure. He’s dedicated himself to living life to the fullest and helping others do the same.

“It’s been my life’s passion to speak, train, and give from the stage,” said Kenyon Salo.

Through his passions for adventure, storytelling, and connecting with others, Salo has found a simple process which he will share during his DRJ Fall 2020 virtual conference keynote address to guide professionals on the path to what most crave: living a more fulfilled life.

Salo is an international speaker and is the founder of Kenyon Salo Training. 

“I enjoy partnering and working with companies and organizations like BC/DR who consistently strive to help others,” he said. “It’s very easy to build on their altruistic brand to positively impact more lives.”

Salo will present “The Bucket Life List” and share with attendees how to create more experiences, share more stories, and live a more fulfilled life. His goal is to help people elevate their lives, both personally and professionally.

Known as the “James Bond of Speaking,” Salo’s high-energy session will include three simple concepts of living to help guide attendees to fulfilment of their life-long journey.

“One of my favorite things to do is connect with audience members,” said Salo. “When people help others first – without expectation of anything in return – everything they desire will come back tenfold.”

Salo is one of five members of the Denver Broncos Thunderstorm Skydive Team who flies into the Broncos Stadium at more than 60 miles per hour and lands at the 10-yard line. He has completed more than 6,000 skydives around the world. 

During his DRJ Fall 2020 session, Salo will provide attendees with actionable steps to help them achieve anything they desire both personally and professionally.

Salo has more than 20 years of successful audience engagement through humor, awe-inspiring moments, prolific storytelling, and “edge-of-the-seat” content. He lives in Boulder, Colo., with his two teenage kids Erin and Eli. 

Salo pivoted to online and virtual speaking engagements and training during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the future, he plans to offer more in-person, online, virtual, and licensing options for speaking engagements and training. 

DRJ Fall 2020 will be a full state-of-the-art virtual experience held Sept. 28-Oct. 1. This year’s event themed “Focus on the Future of Resiliency” is DRJ’s 63rd conference.

Read session description

David Snyder

“Experiences in your life build knowledge and fortify wisdom, which cannot be taught. The more you experience, the more valuable you become.”

David Snyder has worked in a disaster recovery-related role for more than five years. He believes people should not just accept change in their lives but to instigate it.

He was the unified communications and testing engineering manager at Ohio State University-Wexner Medical Center and is now the incident management and IT operations center product line leader. He provides direction for the IT organization focused on these areas.

He was also in the Air Force after high school and learned early on about priorities and how to first focus on what is important to the mission and have “rock-solid processes which can be practiced to become muscle memory.”

The dynamic nature of disaster recovery and restorative capabilities of business continuity are what inspired Snyder to join the profession.

This will be Snyder’s first time to present at a DRJ conference. His presentation, titled “Why You NEED Change in Your Life,” includes a lecture with a question-and-answer session.

He said many people move through others’ lives on a “single trajectory, focused on making it to retirement or just clocking in and clocking out.”

“I offer a different view on this and share benefits of taking the road less traveled, getting out of your comfort zone, and daring to be challenged,” he said.

Snyder tends to be a “dynamic speaker and will engage the audience with direct questions and real-life discussions.”

“I enjoy finding solutions for the business that can build resiliency to infrastructure,” he said. “The ultimate goal of DR is to not have to invoke any DR plans because the IT systems take care of themselves.”

Snyder offers advice to professionals who are new to BC/DR: “Be diligent about creating solid processes that can be scalable on their own and not have to be baby-sat at work. Consider innovative ways to create resiliency and don’t take ‘we have always done it that way’ as an okay answer.”

He said during the COVID-19 pandemic, he began working full-time from home in May. Working for the medical center, he had to quickly devise a plan to move hundreds of call center workers to be able to work from home due to not having that built into a contingency plan.
“Initially it became more focused on finding solutions for WFH options,” he said. “After those solutions were enacted, business returned to normal for me.”

There has now been “a big push to offer telemedicine options and WFH capabilities.”
He said the “new normal” includes more robust telemedicine offerings and working from home options are permanent for some people where they weren’t a possibility before the pandemic.
Snyder, CBCP, has been married for 24 years and has three children ages 23, 18, and 15. He has lived in the Columbus, Ohio, area for the lasts 15 years. He loves to entertain, spend time with his family, and try new things.

In his 43 years, he has resided in Germany four different times, moved 16 different times to either other states or countries, and have worked for 21 different companies.

“These experiences have proven to me that having diversity not only in your work but in your personal life yields tremendous benefits of how you approach situations.”

DRJ Fall 2020 will be held in-person at Phoenix’s JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort Sept. 28-Oct. 1. The conference – DRJ’s 63rd – will also be a full virtual experience for those who are unable to travel to Phoenix.

Read session description

Betsy Sayers

“You can’t know how resilient you are if you don’t measure it.”

This is what attendees will hear during Betsy Sayers’ DRJ Fall 2020 presentation titled “Ask BetsyBCP: Assessing BCM Capability Maturity.”

According to Sayers, her presentation will be sponsored by KingsBridge BCP.

“This workshop is all about giving you the tools and skills needed to conduct a self-assessment of your company’s BCM capability and provide your C-Suite with a dashboard report,” she said. 

The AskBetsyBCP! Capability Maturity Model is a self-assessment questionnaire, not an audit, which applies the 10 DRII Professional Practices to the five Carnegie Mellon University Capability Maturity phases and creates a dashboard report baased on credible and defendable input from business service units.

Sayers’ Monday, Sept. 28 workshop session 4 will be comprised of four segments: history and theory behind Capability Maturity Modeling; the AskBetsyBCP! Approach; facilitated session to complete a draft assessment of one’s organization; and open mic AskBetsyBCP! question-and-answer session. Attendees are welcome to submit questions ahead of time on any BCM topic to [email protected] 

During her presentation, Sayers will share an “insider tip” with attendees about the power of the Capability Maturity Modeling and how it can help professionals achieve success.

Sayers has worked in her current position at KingsBridge BCP for the past two years. She has worked for 30 years in the business continuity/disaster recovery profession. She was the newly appointed datacenter operations manager in 1989 and asked their outsource vendor for a copy of their DR plan. The reply to her was, “Your company didn’t buy one of those.”

She said the rest is history.

Sayers enjoys the challenge of finding ways to bring BCP/DR needs and solutions to the C-Suite in a manner that demonstrates solid undeniable data gathering and analysis — without analysis paralysis – and obtaining funding and resources to build a program and team which have been successful when tested in real emergency events.

“The BC/DR University of Hard Knocks taught me the power of ‘reporting’ and how Capability Maturity Modeling based on service owner input can guarantee BC/DR success,” she said. 

In addition, Sayer was instructor for the Disaster Recovery Institute International and DRI Canada for 23 years. 

“I loved meeting students and helping them to meet the challenges they were facing on the job,” she said.

Sayers offered some advice to new BC/DR professionals: “Think carefully about whether or not this is the job for you. You need to enjoy – and be good at – business analysis, public speaking, and 24/7 on-call requirements.”

She said new professionals need to possess extremely strong verbal and written communication skills, a high level of professionalism, and a strong work ethic.

“You need to have tough skin because very few BCM programs are strongly supported by upper management,” she said. “You will experience many frustrating days when months of hard work is not approved.”

Participants who attend Sayers’ session will receive a sample CMM template and also have the opportunity to complete the template to ensure overall understanding of the process.

Sayers, MBCP, ITIL, CEMC, is a popular MBCP conference speaker and DRI instructor with more than 30 years of experience in IT/DR, BCM, and municipal emergency management. She also has other leadership experience as municipal fire chief and municipal emergency management coordinator.

“After 30 years in this industry, 2020 marks the end of my personal journey in BC/DR,” she said. “While AskBetsyBCP will continue to be available onlije through the KingsBridgeBCP Academy Program, my public sessions will cease as I focus on making my intellectual property freely available to help others.”

DRJ Fall 2020 will be held in-person at Phoenix’s JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort Sept. 28-Oct. 1. The conference – DRJ’s 63rd – will also be a full virtual experience for those who are unable to travel to Phoenix.

Read session description

Roger A. Stearns

“Back in the day, you were asked to cover this little thing called ‘business continuity’ or emergency management.”

This is what first inspired Roger A. Stearns to join the business continuity/disaster recovery profession.

Stearns, FBCI, CBCP, is senior global business continuity manager at Philips. He has worked there for eight years and has more than 30 years in the industry.

Most of all, he enjoys working with people and understanding the business process and interdependencies.

Stearns is returning this year to DRJ Fall 2020 as a repeat presenter. His presentation is titled “Supply Chain Integrated Resiliency and Crisis Management.”

According to Stearns, the 2019 Horizon Scan report indicates that supply chain disruptions are a low frequency and low impact risk type. 

“I would argue that the dynamic nature of a global economy that these disruptions are more frequent and have a larger impact than we may see.”

He will use several incidents as examples to show where “theory and reality meet in the business continuity and crisis management planning portions of our program by using an integrate business resilient platform to create a corporate culture of business resiliency.”

Stearns said businesses can no longer plan for one disaster to occur at a time. Professionals should also “test like you want to recover and you will recover like you tested.”

He said, “Business continuity is all about understanding the business processes and creating solid recovery strategies that may be deployed as a part of crisis management. The key to a good recovery is a well-rehearsed crisis management team/leadership team.”

Stearns’ presentation will include a lecture with whole-group discussion. 

“I am also hopeful for group dialog during the session,” he said.

An “insider tip” he will share with attendees is how to use an integrated platform to facilitate and visualize one’s organization to all key stakeholders.

Stearns is a fellow of the Business Continuity Institute and a BCI-USA board member elected in 2018. In addition, he is a Certified Business Continuity Professional since 1999 with more than 30 years of experience in business continuity, disaster recovery, and emergency management planning.

“My top strengths are deliberation, achieving goals, strategic and tactical planning, taking ownership, and self-assurance,” he said.

In addition to business continuity, Stearns has led environmental, health and safety, and business compliance for healthcare. 

“I draw on a lifetime of experience from being a police officer, U.S. Army military police, 911 dispatcher, consultant, and entrepreneur,” he said. 

In his free time, Stearns enjoys traveling, hiking, cooking, and spending time with his family.

DRJ Fall 2020 will be held in-person at Phoenix’s JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort Sept. 28-Oct. 1. The conference – DRJ’s 63rd – will also be a full virtual experience for those who are unable to travel to Phoenix.

Read session description

Cliff Thomas

Cliff Thomas said the truth is the profession found him … he wasn’t even aware of it prior to working in the business continuity/disaster recovery field.

“But I’ve found that every day presents a new and interesting challenge,” he said, “so I stuck with it.”

Fast forward 20 years later. Thomas has a doctor of philosophy, is an adjunct faculty member of Colorado State University and the University of Denver, and has two decades of experience in the BC/DR profession.

“I enjoy the opportunity to find creative ways to solve problems,” he said. “We often don’t think of business continuity as a creative endeavor, but it very much can be.”

He said because BC professionals often work with multiple business functions, “We’re often in the unique position of recognizing connections between seemingly unrelated risks.”

As a BC professional, he said individuals can offer true value as an integrator which connects risk dots to significantly add to an organization’s resilience.

Thomas will present “Navigating Business Resiliency Best Practices: Perspectives and Cautions” at DRJ Fall 2020’s virtual conference.

During his presentation, Thomas will share with attendees how to seek out and implement best practices.

“Ironically the concept of ‘best’ is relative,” he said. “What’s best for one organization is impractical for another.”

This session will engage in discussion about why best practices are attractive but elusive.

Thomas will also discuss how one can evaluate practices to think about what is really “best” for an organization. He’ll also ask participants to consider how neuroscience plays into business continuity.

He will also share scenarios from his 20 years of experience with attendees, including how 90% of BC problems involved failed application of another company’s best practice.

Prior to DRJ Fall 2020, Thomas has previously presented at DRJ conferences three times on topics related to BC program implementation, the “deadly sins” which can get in the way of progress, and lessons learned from Northern California wildfires.

He said, “In order to learn, we have to engage in a topic, but that’s different for everyone. So I tend to involve stories, interesting facts, explanations, and most importantly, dialogue.”

Thomas said one thing he will stress is “new practices involve change, and 70% of change is unsuccessful.”

Thomas, MBCP, MBCI, has worked in the business resilience field as a manager, director, and consultant for more than 20 years and has a doctoral degree in organizational management. Beyond consulting, he teaches at two universities.

He is a resident of Fort Collins, Colo.

When asked to reflect on the COVID-19 pandemic, Thomas said, “More than anything, it has taught me to think hard about how business continuity professionals can create effective mindsets to prepare for unlikely events.”

He said as a practitioner and researcher, his interest is in looking at industries and regions which have been successful in their response to the pandemic in comparison to those who have not.

“Arguably, success factors were in place before the pandemic occurred,” he said, “and it is likely that those factors would come into play in the response to any crisis. By better understanding the mindset that enabled those factors, perhaps we can find new ways to improve resilience.”

DRJ Fall 2020 will be a full state-of-the-art virtual experience held Sept. 28-Oct. 1. This year’s event themed “Focus on the Future of Resiliency” is DRJ’s 63rd conference.

Read session description

Jerome Wendt

Business continuity and disaster recovery were manual, complex processes when Jerome Wendt first started working in IT. These areas required high degrees of coordination and oversight to successfully execute upon, even for a limited number of applications.

“I wanted to be part of educating the IT community about new applications and processes that could automate, accelerate, and simplify these tasks,” he said.

Now 13 years later, Wendt said he most enjoys helping different sizes of organizations understand and identify the right BC/DR solutions for their needs.

Wendt is president and founder of DCIG, LLC.

He presented virtually at DRJ Spring 2020 and will return to DRJ Fall 2020 with his presentation “Make the Right Choice Between Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service Solutions.”

According to Wendt, his presentation will examine the new forces driving organizations of all sizes to put in automated DRaaS solutions. He will break down available DRaaS offerings, how to evaluate them and how to choose the right solution for an organization. 

Wendt said hostile entities – or hackers – now present the most probable cause of a disaster in one’s environment in the form of a ransomware attack. He said organizations must adopt multiple layers of defense and recovery to safeguard against these attacks.

“Every day, DRaaS solutions become more fully automated and easier to implement,” he said. “While small and mid-size enterprises have the most options, new options for large enterprises are becoming more readily available.”

Wendt offered an “insider tip” for his upcoming DRJ Fall 2020 presentation: small and mid-size businesses and enterprises can already obtain all-in-one disaster recovery as-a-service solutions. Large enterprises which use AWS and VMware may also be able to obtain an AIO DRaaS solution due to a recent acquisition made by VMware.

He also offered advice to new professionals: near real-time BC and DR are achievable for smaller organizations and are on the near-term horizon for large enterprises.

“The need for BC/DR professionals will become more pronounced in the coming years,” Wendt said. “All sizes of organizations will be looking for individuals skilled in successfully delivering an executing upon these functions.”

Wendt has certifications as a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and Amazon Cloud Solution Architect. He earned bachelor’s degrees in computer information systems and theology.

Read session description

Brian Zawada

Brian Zawada became involved in the business continuity and disaster recovery profession by accident. He did some “contingency planning work” in the military and had the opportunity to carry those experiences into the private sector.

Twenty-four years later, Zawada enjoys working in the industry and getting to learn more about each organization’s strategy and how it uniquely delivers value to its customers.

He has been employed as chief operating officer in assurance for Avalution for almost six months.

Zawada offered advice to new professionals in the BC/DR industry: “Get great at engaging with others in the journey to prepare for disruption and recognize that all risk can’t and shouldn’t be mitigated.”

He and co-presenter Michael Bratton, managing consultant for Avalution, will share his expertise with virtual attendees of DRJ Fall 2020 with his presentation “Start to Implement BCOS Next Week.”

According to Zawada, every business continuity program struggles at some point with lack of focus and engagement. These challenges exist even for both robust, mature programs as well as for programs in their first year of implementation. To help solve for focus and engagement issues, Avalution developed the Business Continuity Operating System (BCOS).

Zawada said it is believed that the right framework enables continuity professionals to answer “yes” to these statements:

-I am empowered to make my organization resilient.

-I have the resources needed to protect the organization aligned to management’s expectations.

-I am challenged to grow personally and mature the program.

-I enjoy my work.

In addition, Zawada said participants should attend this workshop to learn more about BCOS, why it’s essential to one’s personal and professional success, and utilizing the core tools to achieve focus and engagement. 

During this workshop, attendees will work through five essential topics to allow them to begin implementing the BCOS immediately. 

One “insider tip” Zawada will share with participants is how the key to success is not optimizing an organization’s business continuity “methodology.”

Zawada said he is once again excited about sharing the BCOS’s most impactful tools and processes with DRJ attendees.

“Not software and not a replacement for what you do well as a business continuity professional, we will share business practices to optimize the outcomes of your business continuity program,” he said.

Zawada said this virtual workshop will include many hands-on activities for participants to utilize in their organizations. They will also receive a PDF version of a soon-to-be-released book on Avalution’s BCOS.

“Getting good at engaging with others is THE key to success when it comes to achieving a business continuity capability that others can be confident in,” he said.

Zawada, FBCI, has presented many times at previous DRJ conferences, is co-founder and chief visionary officer for Avalution. He also served as business continuity practice leader for Protiviti, Inc., associate director for General Electric, and manager for Arthur Anderson.

He served as a captain in the U.S. Air Force from 1994-1999.

Zawada earned a bachelor’s degree from the United States Air Force Academy and master’s degree from Joint Military Intelligence College.

He lives in Medina, Ohio. He and wife April have three sons. He enjoys golf and coaching youth lacrosse.

Read session description