After the tragedies of Sept. 11, 2001, and Hurricane Katrina occurred while he was pursuing his bachelor’s degree, Luis Tapia wanted to help the communities recover and heal. He focused on his studies on hazards and disasters. At that time he worked at the American Red Cross in Dallas. This was a wonderful experience and it helped him to realize how he could contribute to increasing the readiness and resilience of organizations and communities.
Tapia is now a resiliency relationship manager at a financial services company. He has worked in the business continuity and disaster recovery profession for 11 years. He worked for five years in emergency management and then six years in business continuity.
During his first few years in business continuity and emergency management, Tapia has observed that many young professionals have a tendency to want to do too much too quickly.
“Moving the needle on resilience requires a combination of strategic thinking, tactical precision, and high emotional intelligence,” Tapia says. “I encourage young professionals to recognize emotions and behavior and allow these to guide your approach to achieving project and program milestones.”
In terms of communication and collaboration tools, Tapia prefers LinkedIn messaging for bouncing ideas or approaches to common problems, which provides lasting value. He says many times young professionals emphasize the business card collecting aspect of networking, but they often neglect the ongoing caring and feeding of these relationships.
Tapia says his career goals are focused on finding ways to help communities and organizations become better prepared for disasters. As someone who was raised on Godzilla movies and teaching emergency management business continuity undergraduate courses as an adjunct professor, he believes resilience is in his DNA and will continue to fuel his entire career.
In terms of advice to other professionals, he suggests investing time and resources in learning how to become more organized. The timely management of an email inbox, a clean desk, and establishing a process to manage data, time, and relationships to help one achieve more with less heartache. He also suggests professionals learn how to master their own environment.
Tapia says one of the most exciting aspects about his role is being able to convince and persuade others is to “drink the resiliency Kool-Aid.”
“With quick wins and consistently demonstrating the value of a continuity planner brings to their organization, it can be very rewarding to add one more advocate for your program.”
As for improvements in the BC field, Tapia would like to see a more efficient way to share lessons learned and revise best practices within various industries. “A strong characteristic of our public sector emergency management partners is that they efficiently share their experiences and areas for improvement with each other outside of annual conferences or professional associations.” Several entities help facilitate this type of information sharing in the public sector and especially within public safety. Tapia says this is a missing piece within the private sector among business continuity programs.
As an adjunct instructor who teaches courses in emergency administration and planning, Tapia often shares with them a variety of success stories in business continuity and crisis management. “I pull back the curtain and explain why these case studies worked out well, and the contributions made by a business continuity planner. When we cover the case studies for incidents that don’t go quite as well, they see the opportunities where they could potentially contribute.”
Tapia hopes to continue learning about the field. He would like to gain more information on how to recover critical business processes following a major information security incident. Although he has not yet attended a DRJ conference, he hopes to go to the spring or fall event in 2019.
He would like to focus on learning and networking opportunities to grow as a professional. He would like to concentrate on cybersecurity and information security. With such a strong interest from many boards and senior leaders, he says it is an area that provides a great opportunity to grow knowledge, skills, and abilities.
Tapia has taken a number of graduate courses to focus on management and leadership in a time of crisis. What he has enjoyed most about these courses and their assignments has been the certain characteristics in leadership displayed over and over. He compares these characteristics to his personal traits to see where he can improve. These areas include public speaking and decision making based on limited information.
Online learning is another area to improve one’s skills. Tapia suggests the recent FEMA PrepTalks on YouTube. Many premier professionals and researchers break down new ideas and propose methods that are applicable in a wide range of industries. Specifically, he suggests the recent PrepTalk on modernizing public warning from Dr. Dennis Mileti.
He currently has CBCP and CEM certifications.