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EDITOR’S NOTE: The DRJ Career Development Committee is supporting this series of articles featuring the career paths of industry professionals. Throughout this series of candid interviews, we hope to provide career advice to our readers by highlighting lessons learned, highs and lows, opportunities and challenges. The DRJ Career Development Committee promotes education, opportunity, inclusion, and excellence surrounding the exploration and evolution of career paths in all aspects of business continuity and risk management. Key elements of our mission include promoting open and candid discussions of career opportunities, providing mentorship, resources, and guidance to equip our membership with the necessary knowledge, best practices, and tools to succeed in their chosen career path.

Jayme Rick was working in the IT department at Sprint when she was assigned to a business continuity project. 

“My manager said it was about disasters and right up my alley and that he would probably lose me to it,” she said.

Her role in 2004 was to project manage the technology and telephony components of the buildout of an alternate site for the internal help desk. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall just days after Sprint merged with Nextel.

Rick was tapped to lead the IT efforts and interface with the combined companies’ business continuity office. The next year, she joined the IT continuity, planning, and recovery team and was responsible for leading alternative IT network connectivity solutions and disaster preparedness. A few years later, she joined the BCO and was promoted to lead it more than four years ago. She is now manager of enterprise business continuity at Sprint which recently merged with T-Mobile.

According to Rick, the most challenging aspect of her career has been stopping the cycle of a lack of support and investment in business continuity planning and the complications which this cycle presents when disasters strike.

“As business continuity professionals we need to be not only visible to the C-suite during disasters but also be able to meet with them on a regular basis, build relationships, and trust while thinking like a CEO when presenting data to drive decisions at the executive level,” she said.

Rick said the team they built makes her proud. They are a small group who works closely in stressful situations, often with competing priorities, long hours, days, weeks, and months. They maintain coordination, organization, fact-based decisions, and professional relationships within all departments and levels of the organization.

“I’m also proud of the work our incident management team members have accomplished as we have continuously improved year after year,” she said.

Rick explained that she is individually proud of four things: her role post-Hurricane Katrina and leading the IT network connectivity over satellite for the first time; her deployment to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria in 2017 and setting up tablets and internet connectivity over satellite for students at a hearing-impairment school; her efforts to obtain C-suite approval for budget and headcount to match competitive community response efforts; and her ability to influence and advise the C-suite during their recent COVID-19 planning and response.

Through her experience Rick has learned some important lessons: maintain a great network, internal and external; be inclusive for most situations; don’t assume groups are not impacted or have a need to be involved or informed; and don’t be afraid to make quick decisions and course corrections as new information comes to light and lessons are learned.

“The business continuity industry is filled with thinkers and problem solvers, all of who want to help others,” said Rick.

She often references William Blake’s “Songs of Innocence and Experience.”

“Children see the world through a lens of innocence, naïve and hopeful, while adults see the world through a lens of experience, corruption, and distortion,” she said. “Be prepared to become this adult and point out all risks to your children and family members.”

Rick said people may have to train their mind to put risks out of it to be able to enjoy activities where they know risks are higher.

She offered one final piece of advice: “Network, network, network! You won’t be able to be a master of all traits but will need a network of people and masters of those traits and mutual trust between you all to be successful! You don’t need to know all of the answers, just where to find them.”

For more information on the DRJ Career Development Committee, contact Tracey Forbes Rice. Rice is a member of the Disaster Recovery Journal Editorial Advisory Board (EAB) and chairperson of the Career Development Committee. Rice has 20 years of experience in business continuity and risk management. As vice president of customer engagement at Fusion Risk Management, Rice brings customers together, partnering with them to develop innovative solutions and to achieve new levels of program success. Rice welcomes your feedback at [email protected].

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