13 Mar 2017

A Letter from DRI International President Al Berman

The year 2016 has proven to be very interesting and 2017, by any measure, will be even more so. In 2016, our profession faced new challenges, ones that removed us from our comfort zone and caused us to face the new realities that will define the standards for resilience in the decades to follow.

Cyber Threats Increase
The ascendancy of the concern over cyber threats has had economic, sociological, and political affects that transcend geographic location, traditional physical security, and the incident management paradigms that we have used as the backbone of our resiliency models. This threat adds greater challenges and demands for professionals – not only from government regulators and corporate risk management, but most importantly from the customers who depend on us and whose goods and services we help make possible.

The need for holistic due diligence for vendors and suppliers not only requires the ability to meet their delivery goals, but also to ensure that they do not transport malware. This isn’t just a technical problem – it’s an organizational one. The vetting of suppliers now falls squarely upon the shoulders of risk management and business continuity professionals. In response to this, organizations are changing their internal structures to create a more visible and empowered assessment arm, adding cyber integrity to the list of supplier demands.

Professional Practices Evolve
To address ever-expanding issues like these, DRI International undertook the most extensive revisions to the Professional Practices in its history. This project lasted over a year and was supported by experienced volunteer professionals from around the globe. The revisions included updating technical and manufacturing strategies, providing more of a risk management and insurance focus, addressing the growing body of standards and regulations, as well as addressing supply chain concerns, both from a delivery and cyber threat perspective. The effort was completed early this year.

Now comes the process of updating our courseware and examination materials to reflect these changes. The new Professional Practices, along with the previous set will be available online in six languages by the end of the first quarter of 2017. The relevant course materials and qualifying examinations will be available by the end of the second quarter of 2017.

DRI Put to the Test
It’s one thing to preach business continuity, it’s another thing to practice it. On Saturday, September 17, 2016, DRI International found itself in the unenviable position of being part of a major bombing incident in New York City. At 8:30 p.m. a pressure-cooker bomb was detonated in front of 133 West 23rd Street, approximately 100 feet from DRI International’s corporate headquarters.

Fortunately, no DRI International team members were on-site at the time. But as we all have come to learn, communicating the reality of the situation is as important as providing the services necessary to maintain the viability of the organization. Within minutes of the incident, we received texts from as far away as Tokyo, asking about our condition and the safety of the staff. By late Saturday evening, we informed our Board of the situation, and by Monday morning an email was sent to our entire 40,000-person mailing list apprising them of the situation. Timely communications reduced the need for vital resources to address concerns, as well as rumors, and allowed us to maintain uninterrupted services.

Where Is DRI?
Our ever-expanding number of Certified Professionals (now verging on 15,000!) necessitated expansion of our operational facilities. In addition to moving into our new corporate headquarters on West 23rd Street (just two and a half months before the bombing), we opened new facilities for the DRI Foundation on East 41st Street also in New York City. Our global expansion continued with the opening of the DRI International facility in the St. Paul’s section of London.

The Heart of DRI
At DRI’s heart is our dedication to living up to our obligations as a non-profitorganization. The embodiment of remaining true to this tremendous responsibility can be seen throughout the efforts that define DRI International and the DRI Foundation. Our open invitation to the unemployed to attend this conference, at no cost, enables them to network with other professionals who may be able to use their skill and experience. The initiatives for Women in Business Continuity and Young Professionals provide insights into how we can better use our resources to advance the careers of all.

The efforts of the DRI Foundation continue to garner praise. In a survey conducted in 2016, among certified professionals at DRI’s annual conference, the Collegiate Conference Series and volunteerism were rated as the “most important service provided by DRI.” None of these could exist without the DRI Foundation.

The Foundation exemplifies the essence of traditional charitable support by bringing relief to victims of natural disasters around the globe. It also extends its efforts into information sharing with students, professionals, and academics through the Collegiate Conferences Series in the U.S. and Canada.

The Foundation’s latest effort provides services to those who are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice – our men and women in the armed forces. Under the auspices of the Veteran’s Outreach Program, qualified service personnel and veterans are offered a full scholarship to attend a DRI International Business Continuity course, take the qualifying examination, and complete an application, so they can be certified to enhance their career opportunities in the private sector. With the completion of our first class in Lakewood, Washington, we will expand to classes in New York and Michigan in 2017. Our efforts have actually crossed the Atlantic to enable a British soldier, who has given 15 years of services, to attend our February class in the UK.

Planning in Action
While DRI is continually looking outward, we also are looking inward. In 2016, the all-volunteer Operational Review Committee presented its finding to DRI’s Board of Directors. The report was based upon a comprehensive survey and interviews with Certified Professionals. The objective was to use this input as the basis for the Strategic Planning Committee’s three to five-year planning initiative. The Strategic Planning Committee will be meeting over the next year to provide goals and objectives that will lead DRI into the next decade.

In the last five years, I have had serious conversations with the Board of Directors about a subject that is vital to all effective organizations – succession planning. I have been a part of DRI’s management for the last 11 years. I have served as President and CEO for the last eight years. It has always been my personal belief that the best time to change leadership is when the organization is doing well, thus providing one’s successor with the opportunity to lead from a position of strength. So, in the middle of this year, I will be stepping down as President and CEO of DRI International.

I leave this position with pride in our accomplishments, with pride in our leadership, and mostly with the pride that you have shown in having obtained the most respected and prestigious credentials in our profession. Effective July 1, 2017, I will be succeeded by one of the brightest, most dedicated and innovative people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. A person who I have spent the last nine years working besides, and the person to lead DRI International into the future – our Executive Director Chloe Demrovsky.

As I address you from this forum for the last time, I first and foremost want to thank the Certified Professionals for their constructive criticisms and for their honest support. Your words of encouragement mean more than I can ever express. Thank you. I cannot possibly communicate the true extent of my appreciation to the volunteers who make DRI the organization that it is today. Without them we would not be able to provide the many worthwhile initiatives that benefit others. I also want to thank DRI’s remarkable group of Directors and their exceptional staff for their unwavering devotion to the pursuit of excellence and their desire to help further the future of this incomparable profession.

My gratitude and respect to the DRI International Board of Directors for their unbending support, tireless energy and continued encouragement. There are no words to show you my appreciation. Lastly, I want extend a special thanks to my fellow members of DRI International’s Executive Committee – Jerome, Lou and Mike – for their sage counsel, dedication, and most of all for their friendship.

Al Berman, MBCP
DRI International