Speaker Spotlight

Marie-Helene Primeau

Marie-Helene Primeau worked for one of the largest accounting firms in auditing. She enjoyed learning about the business’s mission and how it operated. When her sister explained that she was doing something similar but with a scope of preparing organizations to manage through the storm, it immediately appealed to Primeau.

Her sister Isabelle began working in the business continuity industry early in her career. She was soon recognized for her strategic thinking and ability to put together, understand the criticality of their activities and needs, and transfer all of this into strategies and plans.

“She felt that the field could use more humanity and did not consider all phases of incident management,” said Primeau.

Now, Primeau and her sister own Premier Continuum. Primeau joined the company full-time 17 years ago. Ever since then, she has been involved in consulting work, instructing for the BCI and ICOR, ParaSolution development and onboarding, as well as business administration.

Premier Continuum, Inc. is a leader in business continuity; public safety; IT disaster recovery; and crisis, emergency, and risk management. Clients are served throughout the world directly or through business partners. It is based out of Montreal, Canada, and offers holistic services including consulting and certified training, supported by ParaSolution, its world-class and award-winning BCM software. A trusted advisor for more than two decades, PCI is highly agile and delivers considerable added value to organizational resilience in a cost-effective way that complies with the latest best practice.

The company’s mission is to increase organizations’ resilience. Its core values include customer care, integrity and commitment, innovation and efficiency, the importance of employees, and collective results.

Primeau, CPA, CA, MBCI, is executive vice president and an owner of Premier Continuum.

She finds business continuity work “purposeful as it helps organizations to continue operating and therefore maintaining jobs. I feel privileged to be sought as a trusted advisor by clients and peers.”

Primeau said, “Even if being the owner of a company means we have the pressure of maintaining jobs and growing, I am proud of what we are creating, our value proposition, and the environment we offer.”

Her favorite thing about working in BC is to “get to learn how organizations operate and how to apply business continuity principles in different contexts in a meaningful manner.”

Primeau will be a presenter at the upcoming DRJ Spring 2021. Her presentation is titled “How to Conduct Dynamic Virtual Tabletop Exercises – Seizing the Opportunity of More Interactive and Feel-Real Simulation to Assess and Boost the True State of Readiness of Your Program.” This session is part of Workshops Track 2 on March 31 from 10-10:45 a.m.

“We believe that organizations that perform regular exercises have been proven to be the fittest to recover after a crisis,” said Primeau. “As practitioners, we might daydream that each participant invited to our tabletop exercise will be thrilled to test his or her skills during a simulation that will be a company-wide echoing success.”

But the results are too often disappointing.

During her presentation, Primeau will use her field-oriented approach which reflects her 17 years of experience in supporting organizations. She has overseen many onsite and virtual simulations and exercises with numerous clients from various industries with up to 50 participants.

Primeau is considered an expert in the industry with excellent presentation skills, interactive training approach, and proven methodologies. She has worked with hundreds of executives and senior managers.

At DRJ Spring 2021, Primeau will share strategies and tips on how to make tabletop exercises dynamic and fun while meeting set objectives.

“In the context of COVID-19,” she said, “performing exercises is as relevant as ever.”

Primeau will interact and collaborate remotely to connect with attendees and identify key success factors for tabletop exercises, address how exercises need to be planned and delivered in different and optimal ways in a virtual world, experience more dynamic tools-making exercises, and exchange with fellow practitioners about best practices and lessons learned.

This will be Primeau’s third time to present at a DRJ conference.

“The one that stands out is the one I presented on continuity vs. risk assessment in San Diego in front of a large auditorium,” she said. “While the size of the room was impressive, I was able to engage in a dialogue with participants coming to the microphone at the end of the session.”

She also enjoys benchmarking her ideas and working with the presentations performed by fellow practitioners and seeing how she can integrate those into her practice.

Primeau’s favorite part of a DRJ conference is networking.

“I can connect with fellow practitioners and better understand their challenges and concerns and see how this can be reflected in standards development and my daily work,” she said.

Primeau is an expert consultant with nearly two decades of experience in supporting public and private organizations in setting up, exercising, maintaining, and evaluating their business continuity program. She is also an approved instructor for the BCI and ICOR. She has trained hundreds of professionals around the world on topics related to business continuity and organizational resilience since 2009.

With Premier Continuum, Primeau oversees ParaSolution BCM software integration and the company’s administration.

Prior to working in business continuity, Primeau was an auditor for Arthur Andersen and then Deloitte where she audited small, mid-size, and large enterprises.

In addition to her leadership role within her own organization and providing strategic advice to clients, Primeau was the volunteer president of BCI Canana Chapter over the last two years. She also sits on the CSA steering committee on emergency and business continuity standards in Canada. During her career, she has also been on many boards and participated in business continuity good practice and standards development. In addition, she has spoken at many conferences.

Primeau has a post-graduate degree in public accounting and bachelor’s degree in business administration. She has numerous certifications including ISO 22301 Lead Auditor.

Volunteering is another important area for Primeau. When she was a young adult, she volunteered in summer camps for children with cancer and their families, and then in teenager support groups. She was requested to sit on the board of directors, first as an administrator and then as secretary treasurer. She was involved in fostering entrepreneurship in high school students, giving them the opportunity to experience starting and running their own business.

“While working in business continuity, it was natural for me to volunteer in professional associations’ boards such as DRIE and BCI (Canada chapter and Women in Resilience) as well as getting involved in good practices and standards development.,” she said.

Primeau added, “Being a woman entrepreneur and professional in business continuity is challenging and I am fulfilled to also be the mother of two children.”

When she’s not working, Primeau enjoys being outdoors in nature, taking walks, and skiing.

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