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.
A friend saw a business continuity job and suggested that Eric Skinkle apply for it. The company, Prometric, wanted someone who could collaborate and grow into the position. Skinkle fit what they were looking for, and he has now been business continuity coordinator for the company for two years.
Skinkle says he wanted to get involved with more emergency management types of work, but he had no experience in the field. As the only full-time employee in the company who is devoted 100 percent to business continuity, most employees take BC seriously. He has worked hard over the past two years to reinforce the importance to employees who view it as a back-burner issue and feel they do not need to worry about it now.
“It takes changing mindsets and fortifying the importance and need to those colleagues to overcome this challenge,” Skinkle says.
Currently he uses Microsoft Team, email, phone, and in-person meetings for communication with peers and colleagues.
Although he has just been in the profession for two years, he has thoroughly enjoyed his experience in the field. “BC works with all levels of a company and allows for use of your imagination when coming up with scenarios and questions for teams to probe them to flush out more effective plans.”
Skinkle says new professionals should not be afraid to ask questions and challenge previous methods. Trial-and-error practices are key in this profession, and professionals should ensure management knows that and is behind their employees. He says one of the worst answers one can hear is, “That would never happen.” It means the employees have not thought of it and are not prepared for that scenario. One of the best answers to get is, “I don’t know.” This gives the professional a starting point and confirms that the employees are beginning to think with an open mind.
Skinkle enjoys working with every department, office, and level of employee. “It gives me a clear perspective of each department’s priorities and goals to understand the direction I need to aim the plans.” He adds that creating and leading tabletop exercises are two of his favorite parts of the job. It gives him the opportunity to use his imagination and storytelling skills to give a realistic scenario that teams take seriously and get valuable takeaways to bring back to their team and plans.
Skinkle feels that working in today’s business continuity field needs to continue to change and evolve to protect businesses from new threats. “A solid professional community and continued education are keys to that goal.”
For advice to college students, Skinkle says he wishes he knew about this field when he was in college. For current university students, he says they should learn about the basics and be told about testing a business continuity program with tabletop exercises. “I know that would have gotten me excited about a career in BC earlier.”
Skinkle is constantly looking for learning, networking, and mentoring opportunities in his area. In addition, he recently joined the Business Continuity Institute as an affiliate member while he pursues his CBCI certification. “I want to be more involved with the BC community to be able to grow professionally and help improve the community as a whole.”
At this point, Skinkle says he has done a handful of webinars and a few FEMA independent study courses. He has not been able to take formal courses or attend conferences at this time, but hopes to do so in the future.
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].