Tell us about yourself – your name, company, title, and responsibilities?
My name is Madison Littin. I’m currently a risk and resilience analyst for Fusion Risk Management. I work on various programs across broader operational resilience program, from business continuity management, risk management, and third-party risk management to assisting with client due diligence assessments. I also run most of the day-to-day operations of our business continuity management program and perform technical enhancements in our resilience software system.
How did you get into the business continuity industry?
I’ve always been interested in natural disasters and how it affected people. I actually majored in meteorology at Penn State, where I was introduced to the Emergency Management Club by a senior classmate. After that, I was hooked. We worked with the University Department of Emergency Management, and I got experience making tabletops, attending safety courses, participating in EOCs, and more. One of my favorite tasks was making hazardous weather forecasts for university events like 5Ks or concerts.
Tell us about some of the challenges you have encountered in your career?
During my senior year job search, the original goal was to go into the public sector and work for FEMA or a county/state EMA. However, I graduated during the 2018 government shutdown and was forced to look elsewhere like most of my peers. I spent some time working in maritime shipping and weather routing services before joining Fusion. I haven’t been in the resilience field long. Since I never had formal training, it’s been tough learning the ropes. I’m glad I’ve stuck with it.
Have you had any mentors? Describe the effect they have had on your career.
Our VP of risk and resilience, and my manager, Bogdana Sardak, has been a great mentor to me. Despite leading our company’s internal resilience program, she’s always taken the time to teach me about things from the ground up. Because we are only a team of two, I get a lot of hands-on experience you may not get at a larger company with a more established program. I owe a lot of my current knowledge to her.
What are some lessons learned you still leverage today?
A big part of weather forecasting and meteorology is working under pressure in time-sensitive situations while shifting through information to come to the best conclusion. Business continuity is a lot like that. Building resilience within yourself is a great start; learning to juggle multiple projects, remaining level-headed during incidents, and being adaptable and agile are excellent skills to learn.
What aspects of working in this industry would you like to see change or evolve?
For an industry that is all about flexibility, scalability, and resilience, I see a lot of push-back on changing the status quo. Some professionals who have been in this field for decades keep doing the same approach even though new tools, techniques, and guidelines are coming out to improve business resiliency. Change is hard for everyone, but I’d love to see professionals accept “the times are changing” and embrace new ways to manage their programs.
What types of formal training and certifications have you pursued, and what kinds of learning and networking opportunities are you seeking to continue your professional development?
I’m currently working toward a CBCI certification and look forward to attending professional conferences in the future. Joining the industry during the pandemic didn’t leave many options for networking or training – it’s been go, go, go since day one. But now that things are beginning to “return to normal,” I’m opening to take time in continuing my professional development.
What gets you excited about your career?
I think it’s just the shear scope and variety about operational resilience and business continuity management that makes me excited. There are so many different types of programs, each with their unique approaches. I feel like there is always something new to learn – which, I’ll be honest, I thought was very overwhelming at first. There are areas I heard about at first, like supply chain management/third party management, and thought “that doesn’t sound very fun,” but now I’m very interested in learning more!
What advice would you give to those embarking on a career in this industry?
I don’t think a unique background or career is a hinderance. Sure, there may be more training involved and it might be an investment for the business, but being able to bring fresh ideas and different perspectives to a program is a big plus. It also makes it easier to build bridges with other departments and co-workers if you have experience in their areas – and engagement is always smiled upon.