Hilary Estall MBCI - the new leader for the BCI South West England & South Wales Chapter

  • 05 Jan 2023
  • Hilary

Hilary Estall MBCI is the new leader for the BCI South West England/South Wales Chapter. In this spotlight interview, Hilary reflects on the current threats and risks in the region, as well as future plans for the Chapter.

Could you please tell us about your current role, previous experience, and how you got into Business Continuity (BC)?

For the last 13 years I have run Perpetual Solutions, a consultancy business aimed at supporting organizations in Business Continuity Management (BCM) as well as those looking to become certified to a management system standard in a variety of subject areas, such as BC, information security and quality management.

Before going out on my own, I worked for BSI - latterly as the Global Scheme Manager for BC. Back in 2007, when BS 25999 was in its late stages of development, I joined the BSI Technical Committee responsible for its development (along with a number of supporting Guidance documents). I also joined the BCI at the same time. I was responsible for developing the certification scheme to which organizations would seek registration across the globe, while also taking ownership for training auditors and gaining UKAS accreditation. Busy and productive years for me were 2007-9, during which time it became apparent that I’d acquired a deep interest in BC management. Going out on my own to support businesses develop robust response capabilities seemed to be a natural next step. I’m still deeply invested in this and enjoy every working day!

I remain a Member of the BSI Technical Committee and joined the BCI South West Forum (as it used to be known) as a Committee Member in 2011. I enjoy the interaction both committees afford and am really excited to be taking over as Chair of the BCI South West England / South Wales Chapter in 2023. We have a programme of events planned for the year as well as a new Chapter LinkedIn Group and, as a committee, we are all looking forward to welcoming practitioners to our friendly community.

What do you see as the emerging threats and risks, as well as the trending topics, in your region?

Where to start? We are living in very challenging times and we all have a responsibility and part to play in making the world a safer and kinder place. A few thoughts to consider:

  • Through investment (and in part, necessity) employers have, where its operations permit, introduced arrangements where its staff are able to work remotely. This enables staff to connect with others, both internal and external, as if you were in the same room. But you’re not! As working from home (WFH) now seems to be widely embedded in a significant number of organizations, the risk of security breaches, cyber-attacks and lazy IT security behaviour is putting organizations, as well as individuals, at risk. The need to periodically remind and re-assert the importance of good information security housekeeping cannot be ignored.
  • Hybrid working is now fully embedded in many organizations. With recruitment of new employees now able to stretch across countries, continents and beyond, through the aid of IT systems, popping into the office for a meeting and a catch up can be far more of a logistical challenge (and that’s before you choose to get out of bed two hours early for your commute!) How quickly we forget our pre-pandemic working lives! In my opinion, this lack of face-to-face social interaction will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on individuals, as well as productivity, and employers need to recognise this.
  • Supply chain issues abound but how many of us really understand the supply chains that make up our own business? You may not work in a manufacturing industry, dependent on widgets and gadgets, but that doesn’t mean your company isn’t heavily reliant on “stuff” or services. When did you last dig below the surface of your supply chain?

What has been one of your greatest challenges in this sector?

Enlightening some organizations as to the benefits of certifying to ISO 22301. Some get it 100% and reap the benefits in a variety of ways whilst others just see it as a burden. That said, it isn’t a sector problem, it’s wider than that!

What changes would you like to see in this industry?

Greater accessibility for practitioners to learn from each other and share ideas and concerns. I would say this is the key purpose and objective of the South West England / South Wales Chapter and we’re proud of it!

What piece of advice can you share for others working in BC and Resilience?

Think laterally. Take what the nuts and bolts of your BC (and resilience) arrangements identify and see where it leads you.

What upcoming activities are being planned within the Chapter?

We have three face to face events planned for 2023 (March 9th, July 6th and November 23rd). First off, we visit the Met Office in Exeter for a fantastic insight into its operations. So much to discuss…

We have also just launched our own Chapter LinkedIn Group and hope this will become a useful tool for Chapter members to share thoughts and ideas. It’s a closed group at this stage but if anyone is based in the South West or South Wales and interested in joining, drop us a line at: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12741639/

Anything else you want to add?

I am taking over from Gary Dade, our former Chair for the last 16 years! His unwavering contribution is not lost on me, but I know with the ongoing support and friendship of our Committee, the Chapter will continue to thrive and we look forward to welcoming new (and current) colleagues from our region.

About the author

Hilary Estall

Business Continuity Consultant

A qualified business continuity professional, Hilary has the knowledge and experience to support organisations looking for technical support as well as management system implementation and audit support to ISO 22301. Hilary is an active member of the BSI Technical Standards Committee for ISO 22301 and supporting standards and guidance, representing the UK in the ongoing development of Management System Standards. Key work areas include business continuity consultancy, training and auditing support. Hilary had her book Business Continuity Management Systems, Implementation and certification to ISO 22301 published in 2012. Visit www.pslinfo.co.uk for more details