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.

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.


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.

Reflections on the Bristow Helicopter Crash in Lagos (August 2015)

Philip Keshiro, DRI Nigeria


We would like to appreciate all the agencies and officials that took part in responding during the recent Bristow Helicopter crash.

Review of the incident

From reports we were told that the first responding agency got to the scene at least one hour after the incident as reported.

From the visuals shown most if not all of rescue efforts (diving) were carried out by local divers with their boats.

Preparedness Issues from Incident

a. Total reliance on local divers with inadequate tools only compound or elongate the timing for rescue.

b. Timeliness of responding – Getting to the scene of accident in one (1) hour needs improvement, the reason simply is that it takes less than 2 minutes for a submerged victim to die. Therefore one hour before official rescue commence is too long.

c. Too many agencies performing same role leads to confusion and does not show there is a plan, or joint exercise with TEAMS from each agency.

d. Lack of command center to take charge of the incident can also cause further damages to victims and properties

e. In this type of technical disaster, who should be in charge?

Our Opinion

A. Agencies such as FAAN, NCAA and the company Bristow Helicopters, and the coordinating agency LASEMA should have a plan that should looks at an instance where a plane or Helicopter will fail to get to the airport, looking beyond ICAO regulation which stipulates a specific radius, reference to Airport Emergency Response plan.

Questions to be asked at the data gathering stage (Risk Evaluation)

• Is it possible for plane or helicopters to drop or develop problems before getting to the airport?

o Probability is Yes (It has happened before – Dana)

• Can we get to such site at the required response time (Less than 10 minutes)

o Yes / No – Answer – NO

o What are the Resources required to meet this response time?

Please note that because of the nature of our roads and traffic, should we be looking at Medical Power Bike? As first initial response followed by the ambulances and aircraft ambulances?

• Do we have teams trained for rescue at sea or lagoons based on flight plans?

• Do we need to develop some response capabilities for these areas such as U.S Coast Guards?

• Do we need to involve Navy boats personnel to frequent our sea and lagoons?

B. Training on Disaster Management

Before agencies can come together for rescue efforts, it is presupposed that each agency should have a plan and would have developed some level of proficiencies within its purview, before coming together as one on TEAM basis to work on an incident.

Why did we say Training is lacking

a. Many agencies were in charge – Everybody getting on to the camera. Who is in charge? A look at the Incident Command System will explain this

b. Teams were not clearly visible or seen to be doing a particular assignment based on their regular legal job. You expect FRSC and Police at the perimeter of the cordon area. If incident have been on land, we would have had encroachment.

c. We noted that both strategic and operational personnel of the State and Agencies were at the scene. We need to avoid this practice to guide against secondary occurrence.

d. No visible sign of Command Center, therefore we can safely say there is no Emergency Operations Center (EOC).


We will conclude by appreciating the efforts of responders; however issues raised here are not to rubbish the good works of our various agencies but to point the way forward for improvement.

What is the plan? It is called Business Continuity. Take a look at the Nigerian Pandemic Plan; it appears more than 40 times, It is the tool for managing disaster for the Private Sector BUT the principles are also used by the Public Sector to mitigate and plan against incidents and disasters, the publicity, enforcement of Business Continuity ought to be the responsibility of the Federal Republic of Nigeria according to the Nigerian Pandemic Plan.


Courtesy: DRI Professionals in Nigeria.

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National Continuity Plan vs Total Business Resilience: In whose court is the ball?

Adewale Akinwale

Winning in a game of Tennis revolves around a player’s ability to hit the ball back at the opposing player with as much dexterity as possible. Getting the ball back across the net ensures that the bulk does not end in your half of the court, in which case you would have lost a point. The flurry of warnings and notices of closure/service outages from core service providers to Nigerian customers in the last week of May 2015 was rather suggestive of a weakened tennis player who could do no more than swing his racket and hit the ball in the direction of the hapless spectators rather than at the terrifying opponent.

12It was undoubtedly the toughest of times for the nation and its citizenry faced what commentators arguably  referred to as the worst fuel scarcity situation ever recorded in a country that has become synonymous for fuel queues over the years, despite being a major global exporter of crude oil. So this was clearly not the characteristic, walk in the park fuel scarcity situation that everyone had gotten used to; agreed. However, the actions and reactions of many corporate organizations ranging from radio and TV stations, banks and financial service providers to telecoms service providers and airliners could not have painted a grimmer picture of hopelessness for the customers at such a difficult time. Two major telecommunications service providers were the first to throw up their hands in submission to the monstrosity of the situation, and just about then, core service providers in other sectors started throwing in the towel in record time as if in a game of firsts.

The shutdown not only caused stress for customers but almost threatened the national sovereignty of the country. The critical question therefore to be asked is, should we hold the national government responsible for lacking a national continuity plan that applies to fuel scarcity situations or should businesses have had their own comprehensive continuity plans independent of any government intervention?

Interestingly, amidst the doom and gloom, a start-up ecommerce firm, Jumia Nigeria stood out and positioned strategically to take advantage of the situation. It was prepared for such a situation and also used the opportunity to promote its energy efficient product lines. That is resilience in the face of adversity and the big businesses have a lot to learn from the fast growing online retailer.

As a continuity professional, I would hope that lessons were learnt from the past experience and that both the government and private organizations are better prepared to manage any such distressing situation in the future. A national continuity art on the part of the government and a total business resilience plan for privately run businesses will definitely save valuable downtime hours and greatly impact on both national and corporate competitive advantage.  The wow factor is in that simple question that observers will be asking “how are they able to stay open?”


Adewale Akinwale is the Head of Enterprise Risk Management at the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (Nahco Aviance). He was named finalist under the Awards category of Industry Newcomer of the year 2015 by the Disaster Recovery Institute USA.

Networking with DRI Istanbul

Exchange by DRI Istanbul has held its first event this Spring in Istanbul.  The event was an impressive start for Exchange, with about 40 attendees from 18 companies.

The day began with a discussion of the Professional Practices followed by a workshop and several working groups.  It concluded with an Executive Panel and a brief presentation on governance.

Photos of the event can be seen below.  For more information on business continuity in Turkey, please contact DRI Istanbul.

Important Resource for BCM in Turkey

Turkish coverThe DRI Ten Professional Practices for Business Continuity Professionals are now available in Turkish.  The Professional Practices are a body of knowledge designed to assist the entity in the development and implementation of a Business Continuity Management program.  Use of the Professional Practice framework can increase the likelihood that no significant gaps will be present in your program as well as increase the likelihood that the various parts of the program will work cohesively in an actual disruptive event.  This important resource will help DRI Istanbul serve Turkish-speaking business continuity and resilience professionals.

To download the Profesyonel Deneyimler, please visit MyDRI.