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Adewale Akinwale: My Experience as a Resilience Professional

Adewale Akinwale, ABCP, is a top professional with a strong background in risk management, strategic planning, business development and business process re-engineering. He started his professional career in the retail logistics and supply chain industry working for major organizations such as IKEA Tottenham (UK) and Barratts PriceLess (UK) Limited. He returned to Nigeria and joined the management consulting practice of Messrs S.I.A.O Professional Services, an indigenous audit and consulting firm in 2011. He joined the enterprise risk management department of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (Nahco Aviance Plc.) in January of 2013 as an Enterprise Risk Officer, and now sits as Head of Enterprise Risk Management. He holds a Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) in Business Management (Human Resource) from the University of East London (UK) and a Bachelor of Arts Degree (B.A. Hons.) in Business Management from the University of Sunderland (UK). He was nominated as a finalist at the DRI2015 Awards of Excellence in the Category of Industry Newcomer of the Year 2015.

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How did you become involved in resilience and its related industries (business continuity, disaster recovery, emergency management, etc.)?  

I got into the world of business resilience when a major aviation handling company in West Africa approached my employers at the time, a boutique management consulting firm, to create a business continuity plan for its operations. I was drafted into the team at the last minute to offer generic support because my background is in strategic risk management. I ended up taking up employment with the client due to my energetic contribution to the development of the resilience plan.

What is your current position?  

I currently sit as Head of Enterprise Risk Management at the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (Nahco Aviance). I am responsible for all aspects of risk management and business continuity in our aircraft handling, passenger and cargo handling businesses across 8 stations in Nigeria.

How would you describe your job to someone who is unfamiliar with the industry?

As a resilience professional, I am responsible for preventing threats and all forms of controllable disaster and reducing loss times in the event of an uncontrollable crisis or disaster for Nahco Aviance. I am trained in the use of DRI’s Professional Practices to prevent or consequently manage disasters in our operations by evaluating risks, quantifying the impact on the organization and developing strategies for emergency and business continuity management. I am also responsible for guiding the operations team in the documentation and communication of the defined strategies and effective coordination with public agencies for simulation of resilience plans.

What do you consider the greatest advantage of being a resilience professional?  

I believe the greatest advantage of being a resilience professional is being a resourceful person for the organization and also being the go-to guy when strategic decisions need to be made with reference to managing possible threats and crisis situations.

What is your biggest challenge as a resilience professional?  

My biggest challenge in this part of the world is lack of effective coordination with public authorities. The level of commitment of some of these public agencies to resilience is below global average and according to DRI’s Professional Practice, coordination with public authorities is critical to achieving effective resilience. The dearth of infrastructural facilities and a laissez-faire national attitude to emergency management is also a major challenge.

What do you consider your greatest achievement or milestone as a resilience professional?  

My greatest achievements as a business continuity professional include effectively managing the continuation of all core operations when a significant number of our client airline team had to be quarantined for 28 days due to the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in Africa and the management of the coordination of the delivery of over five thousand metric tonnes of cargo over Christmas

Why do you consider resilience and its related industries to be significant?  

Resilience is critical to organizations because it is unique a business strategy that can help organizations achieve customer satisfaction and competitive advantage in the face of adversity. The ability to stay up and running at a time when competitors could have been paralyzed and customers left hapless is a unique selling point for new business development and existing customer retention.

123What do you consider the most important issues facing resilience professionals today?  

The most important issues facing resilience professionals today are emerging threats which are totally alien to their local environments and as such may not have been planned for. The pace at which a terrorism incident or cyber-attack could disastrously affect an organization could be so unexpected and the resources to guarantee continuity may not be readily available. This is why it is important for a resilience professional to stay on top of emerging risks and continuously review best practice crisis management plans to address such threats.

What advice do you have for those just beginning in this field?  

I would advise new entrants into the resilience industry to focus their specializations in industries that they are familiar with. Ultimately, you may hope to become a Business Continuity Consultant where you can cross-carpet from one industry to another. My expertise is in resilience planning for organizations in the transport and logistics industry.

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