How to build a Business Continuity Career from Information Technology Experience

This information is from my new book, The Ultimate Business Continuity Success Guide: How to Build Real-World Resilience and Unleash Exciting New Value Streams. I hope you enjoy the chapter and my book.

Career Move to Business Continuity from Information Technology

Quite a few of us in the Business Resilience / Business Continuity (BRBC) profession began our careers in Information Technology (IT).  I am one of those people. If you are in IT and thinking of a career change or you know someone that is considering it, this chapter may be helpful. This chapter describes how to build a business continuity career from an information technology career.

I loved being an IT professional and I worked my way up to a Senior Technology Officer in a Fortune 50 company, but I have never regretted switching from technology to BRBC.  A technology powered BRBC program is incredibly valuable to organizations. Having the opportunity to work with both technology and BRBC is the best of both worlds. Going to work every day is fun for me because I love what I do!

In my case, the IT to BRBC career transition came about while I was working with a global company. My specialty at the time was in database system design and development as well as managing large data center migrations and consolidations. Over the course of my technology career I developed more  than 100 B2B database systems. Many were for large corporations and others were for my entrepreneurial ventures. All were fun!

I was not too familiar with BC at the time. Not too many people were. Our company already had a business continuity specialist. He and I became friends and I learned what BC was all about. It offered a lot that interested me including working with systems, a great deal of data analysis, planning, working with people and the chance to positively impact my company in innovative ways!

Timing is important in life and the BC director decided to leave for a different opportunity. I quickly applied for the position and I got it! For the next two weeks he was supposed to train me in what he was doing but that never happened.

It was not that big a deal. I dove right in and soaked up every article and class I could find although the BC industry was just getting into gear and it was hard to get good information. I wish I had the book you are reading when I started. In fact, that was a key factor in my writing this book so I could help the people that follow me in our wonderful profession. It would have made the process easier and provided more value for my company in a shorter period of time. I was learning as I was doing. I made mistakes – but never the same one twice.

Fast forward 17 years and BC has provided me with a long and interesting second half of my career.  If you have a background in technology it can be a huge asset to any organization. When you transition to BRBC, that knowledge will provide a unique view into business resilience, business continuity and disaster recovery.

The disaster recovery (DR) portion is obvious.  Understanding system recovery and infrastructure strategies gives you a big advantage. You will be speaking with the IT folks on their level. They will respect that. Without the systems background, it can be challenging to get up-to-speed on disaster recovery technologies. That said, even without an IT background aspiring business continuity professionals can learn the DR portion well enough to do a good job if they apply themselves.

I also firmly believe any mid-size to enterprise-size organization needs to have a high degree of end-to-end automation powering their resilience program. The business deserves it! Having read this book you most likely realize my personal and professional over-riding goal is laser focused on building technology-driven, world-class business resilience programs.

Coming from a technology background you will also understand integrating tools, such as situational awareness systems, business continuity management (BCM) systems, intelligent mass notification systems, etc. You will be able to integrate the tools so they can ‘talk to each other’ thru API’s, JSON, XML, SFTP… You will also be able to integrate ‘Internet of Things’ sensors, alarms, cameras, satellite location devices… This integration is extremely valuable. It may come naturally to you but can be a challenge to people not steeped in technology. I have seen people struggle at that level but I also know if they apply themselves they eventually get there. I am proud of my teammates over the years who were not initially tech savvy but they became so. Perhaps, I had a little influence on them. I hope so.

As a former technology professional, you will be able to easily research and leverage technology. Also, you will understand technology better than the sales reps trying to sell you their solutions. Your business resilience teammates will want and appreciate you being on every call, especially when you are analyzing new enterprise systems.

You will ask the techie questions and you will keep the vendors ‘honest’. You will not get ‘sold’. Without bragging, I think I am often that guy. There is so much I learn from my teammates every day. A great team consists of people with different strengths and the willingness to openly share all information for the success of the team.

A few final thoughts:

If you are contemplating moving to BRBC from IT be sure you read the previous chapter so you know what you are getting into. For example, make sure you enjoy working with people – every day. I know that sounds strange but many of my IT friends strictly want to work with technology as I did for a portion of my career. In many ways, it is simpler and less complicated to work with machines. If you do not want to mix with ‘users’ every day do not move to BRBC unless you are strictly doing DR and even then you will be working with users at times.

To be honest, my career transition to BRBC was easy. I was ready. It presented many new and interesting challenges. I enjoy helping people. I enjoy developing and implementing resilience technology. I like being the ‘go-to-guy’ when it comes to the intersection of BRBC and technology. That can happen to you as well. Now is the best time to be in BRBC.

I would be interested in hearing from other people on your experience moving from IT to BRBC. If you have specific questions or concerns on making the transition, please contact me.

UltimateBusinessContinuity.com