Arunabh Mitra: My Experience as a Resilience Professional

Arunabh MitraArunabh Mitra leads the Global Business Continuity Program for HCL Technologies across 32 countries. He has more than a decade of experience in Business Continuity Planning and Crisis Management. He will also be presenting at DRI2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Feb. 26 – Mar. 1, 2017.

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

Serendipity is the right answer.  In 2003, I was selected to be part of the Business Continuity Planning and Crisis Management team for General Electric’s offshore delivery center in India. I was responsible for managing BCM for GE Capital International Services’ (now Genpact) operations in Hyderabad and Bengaluru  and  then went on to lead their  Global Business Continuity Program across in 2009.

What is your current position?

I lead the Global Business Continuity Program for HCL Technologies. I focus on formulating the BC strategy and strengthening the resilience framework across HCL Technologies – a $6.4 billion global IT services company with operations in 32 countries.

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

I normally start with the business context because that’s what they understand quickly and then move to society. I ask four questions to kick-start this discussion:

  1. How do you make money?
  2. What’s your “Golden Thread” – in other words what’s the process by which you serve your clients or employees?
  3. Are you aware of all the inputs and outputs of your “Golden Thread”?
  4. What would you do if your “Golden Thread” breaks down?

To my mind, every company has a string of activities it undertakes to successfully deliver a product or service to its customer or employees (the “Golden Thread”). Our job is to look at this thread. Identifying the most critical elements of the “Golden Thread,” anticipating the risks of disruptions to this thread and planning proactively, is the key job of a BCM Professional. The next step is to extend this logic into the social continuity space.

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

Resilience is a multi-disciplinary function which involves all areas of the firm, and even connects to society. To me, the greatest advantage of being a resilience professional is the ability to have a broad-based understanding of the world. This view of the world makes the resilient professional well-rounded and gives him the ability to view the big picture. It also allows him to extend out of the “Me Space,” within the firm, to the “We Space,” or the ecosystem and society.

What is your biggest challenge as a resilience professional?

We are still a function which thinks about compliance first. We need to move from compliance to capability and make resilience part of the DNA of our thinking.

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

One of my most memorable and recent achievements has been to manage the Chennai deluge in December 2015. I was saddened by the large-scale impact of the disaster. The floods in Chennai last year caused an economic loss of $2.2 billion, out of India’s total economic loss of $6.2 billion suffered due to disasters in 2015, according to a study by reinsurance company Swiss Re, along with large-scale humanitarian loss. On the professional front, I was part of a team which led the successful recovery of my firm’s business continuity efforts during this disaster. As a resilience professional the learning experience was phenomenal and will stay with me for a long time.

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

The velocity and interconnectedness of risk is evolving, with new risks emerging very rapidly. To be able to keep pace with the changing risk landscape, we need to look at resilience at the design stage of everything we do. To be able to do this successfully we need to come together as an ecosystem of resilience and its related industries.

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

The biggest enemy of resilience is recovery. To my mind the founders of this discipline were non-practitioners who had little understanding of running a business. They propagated BC as a separate discipline which was essentially reactive by nature. They premised their thinking on the business to fail first for them to act upon. I believe we need to change that mindset. As resilience professionals we need to start upstream and build a culture of “Business Continuity by Design” in everything that we do and that’s a little bit of a challenge for now.

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

My advice to young professionals is to integrate resilience into the core business drivers. We are hurting our cause if we keep business and resilience separate.

What have been the most important developments in resilience in the past decade? Why?

I see this evolution in 3 phases:

  • Phase 1: Backup Era – This was the 1990’s with enhanced momentum around Y2K. BCM became a domain by itself; the focus was on recovery.
  • Phase 2: Continuity Era: 2000-2010 – Led by 9/11 as the trigger and further enhanced by the GFC. The focus during this era came on recovery and building availability into management processes.
  • Phase 3: Resilience Era – In the last few years of this decade we’ve seen a shift from compliance to capability wherein we are beginning to look at resilience holistically and proactively. Hardening the enterprise for possible disruptions and predictive modeling are the key themes in this phase.

What advances do you hope to see in resilience in the next decade? Why?

The world is moving towards the 4th Industrial Revolution. The way we connect, make money and live our lives is changing drastically. New value webs are emerging and boundaries between work and home are blurring. This metamorphosis is real and is going to change the ‘risk landscape’ drastically. How governments, individuals, societies, enterprises and humans interact will get altered permanently. In this new scenario, I see resilience getting deeply embedded in all that we do and becoming mainstream. Exciting times lie ahead.

Thrive! is now featuring profiles of certified professionals in written interviews titled “My Experience as a Resilience Professional.”  To submit your answers to be published, please click here.

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