If I Were Going to Pivot to a Career in Business Continuity Management…

Edwin Covert
9 min readJul 8, 2022
Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/accident-disaster-steam-locomotive-train-wreck-73821/

After nearly 30 years in the cybersecurity industry, I am not actively looking to change fields into the business continuity or disaster recovery (BC/DR) arena. However, this article will focus on several areas of interest to the person just starting out: the professional organizations and conferences that exist in the BC/DR field, and employment concerns (common phrases, skills employers seek, and common job requirements). I will put my current skills through this process as an exercise, however.

Professional Organizations

Like any mature field of study or occupation, BC/DR has an ecosystem of organizations dedicated to improving the field. The most well known of these organizations is probably DRI International (formerly the Disaster Recovery Institute). Their mission is to help “organizations prepare for and recover from disasters’’ (DRI International, 2022c, para. 1). Another organization of interest is the Association of Continuity Professionals (ACP). They have as a mission, “shaping and supporting the global community of resilience practitioners” (Association of Continuity Professionals, 2022, para. 3).

Certifications in Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery

Much like professional organizations, the BC/DR field has several industry certifications professionals can get. Many of the professional organizations listed previously are the certifying body for these certifications. For example, DRI International offers four certifications in continuity (listed in order of experience required from lowest to highest): Associate Business Continuity Professional (ABCP), Certified Functional Continuity Professional (CFCP), Certified Business Continuity Professional (CBCP), and Master Business Continuity Professional (MBCP) (DRI International, 2022b).

Beyond these certifications, Tittle and Kyle (2019) note several other options available to professionals with experience. They include the Business Continuity Institute’s Certificate of the Business Continuity Institute (CBCI), the ISO 22301 Certified Business Continuity Manager (CBCM), and the Certified Disaster Recovery Engineer (C/DRE) from Mile2 (Tittle & Kyle, 2019). Mile2 (2021) is an organization that “develops cybersecurity certifications” (para. 1).

Conferences

There are several conferences dedicated to BC/DR globally. One of the largest is the DRI International conference. According to DRI International (2022a), this conference “addresses the topics business continuity management (BCM) professionals care about most and providing a first-rate educational experience that informs and inspires” (para. 1).

Other examples of conferences include the International Conference on Business Continuity and Threats this October in Los Angeles, California and the International Conference on Disaster and Emergency Management in Barcelona, Spain. It is also in October this year. The World Academy of Science, Engineering, and Technology (WASET) (2022b) sponsors both conferences; they have an academic focus as WASET is an “open science research organization dedicated to promoting the advancement of science, engineering, and technology” (para. 1). The WASET conference directory is a wealth of information about many BC/DR conferences one can attend.

Interview Questions

DiMola & Maiorana (2003) recommend preparing for an interview in order to put one’s best foot forward. One way of doing this is to understand the type of questions an aspiring BC/DR employee will face. Sullivan (2021) says candidates should be able to explain key BC/DR terms such as Business Impact Analysis (BIA) and risk assessment and show how to calculate a Recovery Time Objective (RTO). Other questions might be scenario based where the candidate will need to explain hypothetical actions they would take if an organization activates its BC/DR plan (Retrivity, 2022).

Common Short Phrases in Employment Profiles

By reviewing the professional profiles of BC/DR practitioners, a candidate can get a sense of common phrases they might wish to add to their own profile on sites such as LinkedIn.com. For example, Madeline Tormey is a Recovery Manager at Hagerty Consulting in Washington, DC. She uses phrases such as helping “clients prepare for and recover from disaster” (LinkedIn.com, n.d.a, sec. About Me). Another Disaster Recovery Manager at a cosmetics company, Tom Sussingham, says he develops a disaster recovery program (LinkedIn.com, n.d.c). Ms. Sussingham is based out of Merrick, NY. The third Disaster Recovery Manager is Paul Striedl in St. Louis, MO. He mentions managing crisis management activities and “coordinating response efforts” (LinkedIn.com, n.d.b, sec. About). What is common across all three profiles is the idea of understanding the overall disaster recovery program, i.e., how the various parts fit together.

Networking Connections

Using my own LinkedIn.com profile, I reached out to all three of the above individuals and requested to add them to my network. To date, I have heard from Mr. Striedl; he accepted my connection request.

Skills Employers Are Seeking

Using the job search site Indeed.com, I found several postings for employers under the search term ‘disaster recovery.’ One for a Program Manager, Discovery Recovery, stated the candidate would coordinate and manage the budget and scope for BC/DP projects and present project status to federal, state and local partners (Hill International, 2022). Another position for a Disaster Recovery Specialist II required candidates to identify impacts, conduct damage assessments, determine hazard mitigation approaches, and develop plans (Innovative Emergency Mgmt., 2022). The through line for these manager-level non-entry-level positions is employers are expecting more than a basic understanding of the academic concepts. They want candidates for these roles who can manage complex elements across the full spectrum of BC/DR efforts.

Common Job Requirements

Both positions require at least a Bachelor of Science degree (Hill International, 2022; Innovative Emergency Mgmt., 2022). The program manager position requires at least fifteen years of “increasingly responsible experience in project/construction management in a supervisory role, with a minimum of ten years of experience in managing major capital projects over $350MUSD involving multi-agency or multi-stakeholder projects” (Hill International, 2022, para. 14). Innovative Emergency Mgmt. (2022) requires three years of experience with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and “intermediate” levels of experience in BC/DP concepts (para. 23); Hill International (2022) also requires some experience with FEMA projects. Both positions also require standard common office skills, such as communicating verbally and in writing, and collaboration across the organization (Hill International, 2022; Innovative Emergency Mgmt., 2022). Table 1 summarizes the skills involved in both positions.

Information Specific to Me

Potential Career Roadmap and Prioritization

Table 1 lists an amalgamation of key requirements from both positions above. As I note below, I have many of these key competencies in my current skill set.

Table 1

Potential Career Roadmap for a Disaster Recovery Manager

Note: Adapted from “Program manager — disaster recovery” by Hill International, 2022. https://www.indeed.com/viewjob?jk=4c1d13b660b76980&tk=1g66mj4cshbho800&from=serp&vjs=3. Copyright 2022 by Indeed.com and “Discovery recovery specialist II” by Innovative Emergency Mgmt, 2022. https://www.indeed.com/viewjob?jk=99f78039442ed434. Copyright 2022 by Indeed.com.

Regarding the first item in Table 1, I possess a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity from the University of Management University College (Covert, 2022a). Since 1999, I have been a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). I consider this being the gold standard of cybersecurity certifications (Covert, 2022a). Two of its eight domains cover BC/DR (Virgillito, 2022); I am also taking this Masters-level class in business continuity management. I am not an expert, but I believe I have an intermediate level of knowledge in the field sufficient to meet the second requirement.

The third requirement is experience with government agencies. For two decades, I was a federal consultant (after my four years in the US Navy); interacting with government agencies was a core requirement for this type of work (Covert, 2022b). Item four concerns managing projects; I have been a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) since 2006 from Project Management Institute and have managed large multi-million dollar projects over my career (Covert, 2022a).

Item five is core to any position; in my 25 years of experience, I have shown this set of skills many times. Item six is the ability to interpret laws and regulations. In my career as a cybersecurity professional, I have extensive experience doing this related to cybersecurity regulations and procedures for both the US government and state governments (Covert, 2022b).

Item seven is where I lack knowledge. I have never written a grant before. Therefore, I would recommend two courses of action to gain this knowledge. First, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) (n.d.) has a website dedicated to help people understand its grant-writing process. I would study this site extensively. Second, San Diego State University (2022) offers a professional certification program focused on grant writing. I would consider adding this certification to my others.

Conferences

If I were going to attend a BC/DP conference, I would attend the International Conference on Business Continuity and Threats in Los Angeles, California, this coming October. This conference will “bring together leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of Business Continuity and Threats” (World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, 2022a, para. 2) Since I live in the LA area, travel costs to attend this event are minimal.

My Professional Profile

I have not updated my professional profile on LinkedIn.com because, as I stated previously, I am not looking to transition to a BC/DR role from my current role in cybersecurity. However, if I was seeking a change, I would leverage my current experiences and augment them with the material in Table 1 on grant writing. I would then ensure my profile reflects these updates.

Conclusion

I have been working in the cybersecurity field for over 25 years and I do not foresee myself changing from this vocation to one in BC/DR. However, were I to do so, it is helpful to know there is a constellation of professional organizations and conferences dedicated to improving the field. Joining these organizations and attending the various conferences would prepare me for job interviews and ensure I have the skills employers seek. Last, I would need to improve my understanding of how FEMA works, particularly in the grant writing process, if I wanted to get into a more senior BC/DR role.

References

Association of Continuity Professionals. (2022). Mission. Home. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://acp-international.com/about/mission

Columbia University. (2022). NIH grant writing boot camp: Building a strong foundation for funding. Mailman School of Public Health. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://www.publichealth.columbia.edu/research/precision-prevention/nih-grant-writing-boot-camp-building-strong-foundation-funding-success

Covert, E. (2022a). About Me. Edwin Covert — Home. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://edwincovert.com/#about-me

Covert, E. (2022b). Resume. Edwin Covert — Home. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://edwincovert.com/#resume

DiMola, M., & Maiorana, J. (2003). Enhancing your career: Preparing for job interviews. Inside Case Management, 10(3). Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A98314279/AONE?u=colstglobal&sid=bookmark-AONE&xid=387ede63.

DRI International. (2022a). Annual DRI Conference — The Business Continuity Conference. DRI Conference. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://conference.drii.org/

DRI International. (2022b). Certification. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://drii.org/certificationoverview

DRI International. (2022c). Our Mission. About Us. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://drii.org/aboutus

Federal Emergency Management Agency. (n.d.). Grants Management Technical Assistance Resources. Grants Management. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://training.fema.gov/grantsmanagement/

Hill International. (2022, June 21). Program manager — disaster recovery. Indeed.com. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://www.indeed.com/viewjob?jk=4c1d13b660b76980&tk=1g66mj4cshbho800&from=serp&vjs=3

Innovative Emergency Mgmt. (2022, May 21). Discovery recovery specialist II. Indeed.com. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://www.indeed.com/viewjob?jk=99f78039442ed434

LinkedIn.com. (n.d.a). Madeline Tormey — Disaster Recovery manager. LinkedIn.com. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://www.linkedin.com/in/madelineetormey

LinkedIn.com. (n.d.b). Paul Striedl, CBCP, MBCI. LinkedIn.com. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://www.linkedin.com/in/paul-striedl-cbcp-mbci-3b3a46/

LinkedIn.com. (n.d.c). Tom Sussingham — manager — disaster recovery. LinkedIn.com. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://www.linkedin.com/in/tom-sussingham-18507512

Mile2. (2021, February 4). About mile2. Mile2 Cybersecurity Certifications. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://www.mile2.com/about/

Retrivity. (2022). Emergency management director interview questions. Interview Questions for an Emergency Management Director. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://www.jobinterviewquestions.com/emergency-management

San Diego State University. (2022, June 22). Professional certificate in grant writing. SDSU Global Campus. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://ces.sdsu.edu/business/professional-certificate-grant-writing

Tittle, E., & Kyle, M. (2019, January 8). Top 5 business continuity and disaster recovery certifications. Business News Daily. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/10802-business-continuity-disaster-recovery-certifications.html

Virgillito, D. (2022, February 17). The CISSP domains and CBK: An overview [2021 update]. Infosec Resources. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://resources.infosecinstitute.com/certification/the-cissp-domains-an-overview/

World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology. (2022a). ICBCT 2024: 18. International Conference on Business continuity and threats. Open Science Research Excellence. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://waset.org/business-continuity-and-threats-conference-in-october-2024-in-los-angeles

World Academy of Science, Engineering, and Technology. (2022b). Support. Open Science Research Excellence. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://waset.org/page/support

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Edwin Covert

Cybersecurity, guitar, jazz, bourbon, rye, enterprise security architecture, current trophy husband. CISSP-ISSAP, CISM, CRISC, SCF, PMP at www.edwincovert.com