Inspiring the business continuity professionals of the future

  • 17 Feb 2020
  • Russell

I was recently discussing opportunities to carry out volunteering with David West, Head of Communities & Operations at the BCI. I wanted to get involved in more activities out of work, give something back as they say, and promote the industry that has been my career for the last 20 years. 

David pointed me towards the UK based Inspiring the Future scheme and I'm really glad he did. The scheme introduces professionals to schools and colleges to support them with activities for students of all ages. Activities range from careers days, mock interviews and assessment centres, to general careers advice and discussions.  

I was recently invited to attend a careers event at the Streetly Academy near Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands. This school has a particular significance to me as it’s the school my wife attended (I won’t say how many years ago, she would kill me!) so I accepted straight away. They were running a series of events for Year 9 students who were about to select the subjects they would take for the coming years. The day comprised of a number of activities, where students sampled subjects and met professionals from a very diverse set of industries. 

My part in the day involved a ‘speed networking’ event. This split the Year 9 students into small groups and gave them 5 to 10 minutes to ask questions about my career, my education, and how the two were linked before they moved to talk with the next volunteer. The questions asked ranged from the cheeky (how much do you earn!), the practical (how did the subject you chose influence or support your career) through to the genuinely curious about what I do (what is the worst incident you have ever been involved in). In all I participated in three sessions, speaking to around 200 students. What I found is that I was really encouraged by the amount of 13 and 14 year olds who had a clear understanding of what they wanted to do with their life, I had zero idea at that age! I was also really encouraged by the number of young women looking to get into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) related careers. 

I have done three engagements through the scheme so far, all of which have been different and with students at different stages of their education. I have given presentations about my career, role played interviews and facilitated mock assessment centres. I have found them all to be tremendously interesting and rewarding. I have really been struck by how grateful the schools and colleges have been, and how genuinely interested the students have been in what I have to say. Most did not know that a job in our field existed, and of course I called out the most interesting parts of career (for me anyway), when things actually go wrong, to make it more engaging for them. It has also given me the chance to network with people from other industries, ranging from paramedics to lawyers to a toxicologist! 

I am lucky enough to have an employer who actively supports and encourages us to get involved in community projects. If you have time, and you want to get involved in your local community, and to have a unique opportunity to promote our industry and shape the future generation I would encourage you to sign up to Inspiring the Future (UK schools only). I did, and I have found it extremely rewarding and worthwhile, and you never know, you might just inspire the next generation to follow in our footsteps. 

About the author

Russell Williams

Operational Resilience Lead

I am an experienced and award winning Business Continuity, Crisis Management, Risk and Resilience professional, having worked at a senior level for some of the world’s foremost organisations. I am currently (Vice) Head of Professional Conduct at the BCI.