A conversation with the new BCI Portugal Chapter - Daniela Santos MBCI and Cecilia Soares MBCI

  • 22 Aug 2023
  • Cecilia,  Daniela Oliveira

The BCI recently announced the launch of the new BCI Portugal Chapter. Here, the Chapter’s Leader  and Vice-Leader, Daniela Santos MBCI and Cecilia Soares MBCI, introduce the business continuity (BC) and resilience culture in their region and the influence they expect to have on the Chapter.

BC and resilience in Portugal

BC and resilience culture in Portugal is improving. Organizations are facing different triggers to implement it and most of the senior leadership is aware of its benefits, importance, and necessity. 

Some of the recent triggers to implement BC and resilience in the country have been:

  • new economic, war, health, or technological threats
  • more legal and regulatory requirements
  • supplier and partner expectations. These may include BCMS requirements, such as implementation and preparedness levels, or exercises and audit agreements.

The landscape of the BC and resilience culture in Portugal has undergone a significant transformation in recent years, evolving through distinct phases that reflect the changing priorities and challenges faced by organizations. We’ve traced the evolution of BC practices and the shifting mindset towards resilience into these three phases:

Before COVID-19 — the concept of BC was largely confined to a niche market segment. During this period, there existed a limited understanding of the true significance and potential benefits of a robust BC strategy. Many organizations viewed BC initiatives as costly endeavors with uncertain returns on investment. Organizations primarily approached BC as a means to mitigate the impact of natural disasters and fulfill legal or regulatory requirements. As a result, the cultivation of a robust BC culture was hampered by the prevailing lack of awareness and perceived high costs.

During COVID-19 — organizations were faced with unprecedented challenges and disruptions. Those that had already implemented BC plans were better equipped to navigate this crisis, highlighting the tangible benefits of preparedness and adaptability. This catalyzed a shift in perspective, encouraging a broader adoption of BC practices, and the cultivation of a resilience culture. The term "Resiliencia" (resilience) gained prominence during this phase, signifying its newfound importance.

Era of cyber-attacks — as a consequence of the pandemic, a rapid surge in digitalization occurred, giving rise to an elevated risk of cyber-attacks. A new threat landscape emerged, marked by a substantial increase in cyber threats and security breaches. This redefined the perception of BC, positioning it as a critical strategic priority. Organizations globally, including those in Portugal, found themselves vulnerable to sophisticated cyber threats, prompting a thorough re-evaluation and reinforcement of BC strategies. This evolution encompassed both traditional resilience concerns and the unique challenges posed by the digitized environment, emphasizing the emergence of cyber resilience as an integral aspect of BC.

As Portugal's organizations continue to navigate a complex and dynamic environment, the lessons from these phases serve as guideposts in shaping a future where BC is not just a compliance measure but a strategic imperative to ensure business sustainability and growth.

The current landscape

At this moment, practitioners in Portugal are grappling with a diverse array of threats and risks, ranging from natural disasters to cybersecurity threats and supply chain disruptions. Their role involves anticipating, planning for, and mitigating these risks to ensure the continuity and resilience of their organizations in an increasingly complex and dynamic environment.

Through the new BCI Portugal Chapter, we aim to create an inclusive environment that encourages diversity and welcomes professionals from various backgrounds and experiences. Through interactive events, mentorship programmes, and knowledge-sharing initiatives, the BCI Portugal Chapter will unite professionals under a common mission: to elevate the overall resilience of organizations in Portugal and contribute to a more resilient business landscape.

Our experience

Cecilia Soares MBCI (CS): I embraced BC consultancy services in 2001. It started with a focus on disaster recovery, but my BC consultancy services continued to improve, along with the market, and since 2013 I’ve been assisting several clients from various sectors to implement and maintain their BCMS. Along with consulting services, as part of the continuity link trainers’ team, I’ve also been a trainer for ISO 22301 and the BCI around Europe.

Daniela Santos MBCI (DS): Commencing in 2001, I started to strengthen organizational preparedness and resilience. Through my involvement in steering the definition and implementation of BCMS, I can guarantee compliance with BC and security regulatory standards and best practices, such as ISO 22301 certification, as well as cultivating a culture of resilience. I’m also a postgraduate teacher of project management within BC. As a volunteer, I’m now the first Chair of the BCI Portugal Chapter.

How have groups and networks helped you throughout your career?

CS: Since 2001, I have attended many seminars and trainings with the PECB, DRII, and the BCI, and I can say that sharing experiences with other BC professionals has really helped me to improve my knowledge and competencies. 

DS:  As I’ve worked in international companies, I have had the privilege of engaging with diverse experiences and perspectives from different countries. The opportunity to work together on shared experiences has not only contributed to my personal growth but has also enriched the organizations that I've been a part of. The exchange of ideas and cross-cultural interactions within these networks have proven to be instrumental in broadening my understanding and contributing positively to the overall success of the teams and companies that I've worked with.

What changes would you like to see in the future of BC and resilience in your region or overall?

Looking ahead, there are several changes we would like to see in the future of BC and resilience, both within our region and on a broader scale.

  1. Firstly, we hope for a greater emphasis on proactive rather than reactive approaches. This requires encouragement to change a culture where organizations react to risks instead of anticipating and mitigating them.
  2. Education and awareness are also crucial. Educational initiatives are necessary in order to empower a broader segment of society.
  3. On a regulatory level, advocating for standardized BC practices and frameworks can ensure a consistent level of resilience across industries. This can lead to improved coordination during crises and simplify the process of aligning with international standards.

Is there anything else you want to share?

We are thrilled to commence this expedition. We really believe that the BCI Portugal Chapter will have an impact on the BC and resilience community in Portugal. We invite all professionals to actively engage with this Chapter’s journey. 

About the author