As business continuity continues its growth as a profession, the idea of certification and the membership of professional bodies are more frequently discussed at all levels of the organization; from those starting out their career in the industry, right up to the board room.
As an individual, you will be looking at the long-term development of your career, while those at board level need to consider the long-term growth of the organization. Of course, the two of these are not mutually exclusive and many managers will tell you that the best way to grow an organization is to invest in its people.
The first step on the professional ladder is certification. Certification gives you an outward facing verification of your knowledge within a certain discipline. During Education Month, the BCI ran a competition asking people to describe what certification meant to them. One of the responses received put it most succinctly by saying that “obtaining certification has given me the stature to get jobs and the credibility to be known as a business continuity professional both internally and externally.” Attaining this level of qualification will set you apart from those who are not certified, who would only have working knowledge of business continuity within their current environment. Furthermore, it will add to your authority in the workplace as people identify you as the professional you are and give you a greater level of respect for the valuable work that you do.
What does certification actually provide you? “I came away with many useful tools, examples, lessons learned and new found passion for understanding how a business works” noted one former student. While the CBCI is about providing a baseline understanding, the baseline covers more than just the basics, rather it sets a solid foundation with which to build on.
The investment required for attaining a CBCI is not just an investment in the induvial, but also an investment in the organization. “The justification was not a ‘nice to have’ but rather that they saw how organizational resilience could only be improved by having professionals within our organization” was how one person described her organization’s commitment to business continuity. By investing in the CBCI, the organization is not only helping to develop the career of the individual, it is ensuring it has the right skills in place to meet the challenges of the future.
It is not just your authority and standing in the workplace that will increase, but your salary as well. One of the key findings from the BCI’s Salary Benchmarking Report was that those who have achieved a certification in business continuity (CBCI) through the BCI, earned more than their non-certified colleagues by up to 30 percent. In North America this figure was 18 percent, but still a significant increase. This helps demonstrate the value of investing in your career, as ultimately those with the appropriate certifications receive greater remuneration.
Another response to the BCI’s Education Month competition highlighted that “my CBCI learning experience forms a sound base upon which to further build my business continuity knowledge and skills.” Certification provides a solid baseline and demonstrates a good understanding of the principles of business continuity in order to develop those skills further. As with any profession, developing these skills is a process rather than a goal; it never stops at the initial qualification, but continues throughout the career.
Of course certification isn’t just for people new to the profession, as one person noted: “I worked in business continuity for a number of years without any formal BCI training, simply utilizing the GPG as my best practice guidance, but always felt I was missing out on being part of the profession.”
Like with any good business continuity plan, you wouldn’t just write it and place it on a shelf to gather dust. It is a continual process of planning, learning, assessing, and adapting to ensure that the plan is effective and can be relied upon. The professional development of anyone working in the BC industry is no different. You don’t take your newly earned certificate and hang it on a wall only to forget all that you have learned. You would, or at least you should, continue to develop yourself as a professional by testing your skills and adapting your skillset to suit the needs of the job.
Mentoring allows those who are new to the profession to be guided along the early stages of their career and offer great scope for improving their knowledge, understanding and the practical application of good practice
As member of the BCI put it: “The reason behind my passion for business continuity stems from my passion for continuous learning. Business continuity is a discipline which fundamentally has a theme of continuous improvement ingrained in what it teaches us. What I have incorporated in my professional life has inspired me personally outside of work which has led me to the vocation that I love to do day in day out.”
For those at any stage of their career, continuing professional development (CPD) provides an opportunity to reflect on their academic and professional experiences to see how they can apply what they have learned to their own work. Where certification tests your base knowledge of a specific subject matter, CPD requires a detailed demonstration of this knowledge and evidence of its implementation.
By getting certified and becoming part of a global professional body, you will be opening yourself up to an abundance of networking opportunities through the BCI’s worldwide network of chapters and forums. “As an outcome of the CBCI, I also found myself having a greater network of professional acquaintances from diverse industries,” described one member of the BCI who found the increase in networking opportunities by being certified to be extremely beneficial.
If you’re not yet certified, then perhaps now is the time to consider it, and reap all the rewards that this will bring. As one future member of the institute said: “being relatively new to the world of business continuity, it would mean everything for my future career progression to achieve the CBCI certification.” Or as one of our current members said: “It will give you a good standing for the future challenges we face at work and as part of the business continuity industry. The CBCI certainly sets you in the right direction for the future.”
So, what are you waiting for?
Andrew Scott, CBCI, is the senior communications manager at the Business Continuity Institute who joined after a brief stint working as the press officer for a national health charity. Prior to that he had more than 10 years at the Ministry of Defence working in a number of roles including communications and business continuity. During this time he also completed a master’s degree in public relations at the University of Stirling. Scott has successfully taken the certificate of the BCI exam which he passed with merit.