As part of our Quarterly Spotlight on The Next Generation of Resilience Professionals, we asked several resilience professionals our Five Questions. Our first guest is Darlene Fawcett.
What is your background, and can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and raised in Canada before moving to the US over 10 years ago with my husband. I am a proud mom of my 7-year and two bonus kids from my husband. My bachelor’s degree, which I earned while working and bringing up my family, is in business administration. I believe it is has added to my capabilities and elevated my profile, progressing my career to where I am today and where I want to go in the future.
How did you get into the profession?
In high school, many of my friends had an idea of what they wanted to study in university, whereas I didn’t and decided to take a different approach by growing my knowledge and skills in the workplace, across multiple industries and in various roles, eventually leading moving to the US pursuing further opportunities with my spouse.
Prior to coming into my first role in the US, I had a general direction of what I thought I wanted to do career-wise in the field of supply chain, however as many would say I fell into the role and found that I enjoyed it and that I was good at. This unexpected avenue led me to where I am today. The role I chose to focus on was in an enterprise security function, which exposed me to many facets of security that I had no idea about. For instance, physical and operational security, crisis management, risk management and threat intelligence, to name but a few. What I found was each day in security is different, keeping it exciting and challenging, to enhance and showcase my knowledge and skills.
Currently I am part of the Corporate Global Security and Resilience function, which had originally been focused on security but adopted resilience as a key requirement for the business. Over time, with the ever-changing operating environment, and our particular ability to identify and manage risk both internally and externally, our group remit expanded. Over the years, our group had laid the foundation for a crisis management program, later expanding to cover emergency management and then business continuity, strategically building the framework for business resilience. This is where I was able to step into a unique role as the Global Manager for Resilience. A few key elements of my role include partnering with key internal stakeholders including our business leaders, enterprise risk management, cyber security, and information technology, particularly on our disaster recovery; understanding their business and risks and providing guidance on preparedness for disruptions.
What are your recommendations for bringing people with more diverse backgrounds into the field?
In school, business continuity nor resilience was not discussed nor taught; however, since the onset of the pandemic, combined with the elevated climate risk and supply chain disruptions, organizational resilience is coming to the forefront and now the new buzzword. Moreover, organizational resilience has been highlighted by those that either didn’t survive the pandemic or had nothing in place, which they have since been adopting and is increasing the aperture for talent in the job market.
Having greater diversity brings broader thinking, with experience from multiple perspectives. This not only allows for greater creative thinking but makes a company a lot more adaptable and therefore more resilient. Companies provide a service or a product, and those services and products are available for customers who are from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures. To provide something that would be desired makes sense that it is produced by those that may understand their customers better. In turn creating attractive products and services to a broader customer base secures business growth allowing it to have more options in the future and therefore be more resilient.
It’s been shown where a business understands the advantages of diversity, it has to promote and communicate its commitment to a diverse workforce, offering positions and roles that provide an opportunity for those from a multitude of backgrounds, cultures, beliefs and persuasions and in turn companies perform better. To attract such candidates a company must be authentic and sincere and prove consistently that it is not only committed but will actively encourage and retain talent, providing a positive work environment. This is true of any group within the company who must make every effort to encourage an environment that is interesting, enjoyable and that can show progression for individual career paths.
Furthermore, for those currently in the industry, they can promote internship and mentoring programs, continually talk about their roles to spark those with the skillset to consider this area as an avenue of growth and participate in conferences outside those known in the industry that are complementary such as risk management conferences.
It seems like there are not many younger people becoming professionals. Why do you think that is, and what can we do to change that?
Coming into the resilience space I will say that in my opinion, raising the level of awareness of the areas that are encapsulated within resilience is a good start with young professionals as they start thinking about their career. This is certainly not area that is generally known and certainly not promoted at the high school level, and from what I have seen, many universities have either emergency management, business continuity, disaster recovery related bachelor’s degrees. These cover elements within resilience but there is not one dedicated for resilience, not until you get into a Masters graduate level.
For me, this is why the young professional network is vitally important; however, as young folks begin navigating their career, the best piece of advice I want to impart from my mentor is “Do not focus on titles or positions within an organization. Think about the journey and the experience you want to gain.”
Lastly, for those that are in this field to continue elevating the awareness through spotlighting people within the industry, talking about their specific journey and experiences while creating opportunities to invite young professionals into expanding their skillset and knowledge.
What is a goal you are working towards?
Within my program, I’m looking to move the needle by progressing the maturity and take my program to the next level through continued collaboration and partnership with key stakeholders, benchmarking with peers and best practices, enhancing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to drive towards an enhanced strategic organizational resilience posture.
Personally, I’m currently studying for the Certified Protection Professional (CPP) and upgrading my business continuity designation. I continue to progress my career, remaining open to learning new approaches and ideas, looking to lead and promote myself further amongst my peers, leaders and juniors. I also am a key contributor to the industry as a Chapter Vice Chair for both ASIS and The Institute of Strategic Risk Management (ISRM), enabling greater visibility through professional and social media as well as promoting diversity through membership networks discussing and elevating the field of security and resilience.
About Darlene Fawcett
Darlene is the Manager, Business Resilience for Jacobs, a $13 billion global Fortune 500 professional services company solving the world’s most critical problems for thriving cities, resilient environments, mission-critical outcomes, operational advancement, scientific discovery and cutting-edge manufacturing. Darlene has over ten years’ experience of security and business resilience experience across various vertical markets. In her current role, Darlene leads the global Business Resilience program for Emergency Management, Crisis Management and Business Continuity where she works closely with key stakeholders to build and ensure a resilient and sustainable business.