Natalie Edwards got her start in the business continuity industry in 2015. She is the business continuity program coordinator for Navy Federal Credit Union and currently responsible for coordinating the overall administration of their BC program.
Edwards needed a full-time job to pay for her college education, so she searched for vacancies and applied to those for which she met the qualifications. After she scored a few interviews and even though those went very well, she was not selected for any of these vacancies for the same reason: lack of experience.
After hearing this multiple times, Edwards decided to look for paid internships to gain the experience she lacked. In her search, she found a vacancy for a year-round business continuity internship. She had no idea what business continuity was, but she met the qualifications for the internship so she applied and was hired two weeks later and hasn’t left business continuity since.
What gets Edwards excited about her career is the evolution that is always occurring in the business world. The different shifts in demands of her position which occur from time to time keep her work interesting.
“While I love taking part in coming up with the solution for today, I like to get a kickstart in thinking about the ‘tomorrow’ because what works today won’t last forever,” said Edwards. “It’s exciting to continuously learn and adapt to increase efficiency.”
Edwards entered into this industry with zero knowledge or experience in business continuity. One of the challenges she had to overcome was being able to understand and speak to this field.
“Heading full force into the business continuity world at only 20 years old was almost akin to learning a foreign language at first,” she said. Through time and experience, she was able to overcome this. She made sure to attend as many meetings as she could, soak up as much knowledge, and ask plenty of questions. This helped her maximize any opportunity to learn and was necessary to gain comfortability within her career.
Another challenge Edwards has faced as a young professional is just that—being young.
“I am quite young and have significantly less experience than a large portion of my colleagues,” she said. “Although this can be intimidating at times, I have learned to grow from the learning opportunities that come along with working alongside such knowledgeable people here at Navy Federal.”
Edwards does not feel she has had any negative experiences when it comes to communication and collaboration with her peers and colleagues. She has always tried to adapt to the styles of the person she is working with at the time. If she is speaking or working with someone who is task- or result-oriented and wants to get the job done, she makes sure to stay on topic and does not get into too much detail unless she is asked. Everyone is different. If someone is not willing to adapt to others around them, that person may risk creating a stressful or negative working environment for themselves.
Although she does not necessarily have a specific or singular mentor in her career, she considers a close colleague at Navy Federal to be very mentor-like as she provides Edwards with tools, insight, guidance, and feedback needed on a regular basis to allow her to really thrive in her position.
“I strongly believe that her support has given me the confidence and knowledge I need to be successful in my career in this industry.”
As for what aspects of working in this industry she would like to see change or evolve, Edwards said more awareness of and investment into business continuity throughout organizations is needed. She would like to see more opportunities for continuity teams to educate people in their company on what continuity is and what role they play in it, as well as how often business continuity can be utilized, even during times in which there are no disruptions occurring within the company.
Edwards most recently received her Certified Business Continuity Professional certification. She is always looking for opportunities such as further training, conferences, or networking events, either career-specific or for her own personal development.
“I feel like I can always learn something new to keep up with the ever-changing business world.”
As for advice to young professionals in this industry, Edwards said to never stop learning. “Don’t become content with ‘good enough.’” She suggested professionals attend as many conferences, training, and networking events as possible.
“Constantly challenge yourself to develop new skills,” she said. “Step out of your comfort zone and explore uncharted territories to become as well-rounded as you can. Try to make yourself irreplaceable. Doing this will set your career up for endless opportunities.”
Edwards offered one final piece of advice: “Be your most authentic self in and outside of the workplace. We spend a significant amount of time at work, so how you feel at work will translate outside of work. It is important to really enjoy what you are doing every day and for your career and workplace to align with your values and interests. If you do not enjoy your job, you will most likely become miserable and dread waking up in the morning.”
She concluded by saying life is too short. “Choose to be your most authentic and best self each day. With authenticity, you will find happiness and overall career satisfaction.”