Women in Resilience Spotlight: Ratna Pawan

  • 23 Sep 2020

Ratna, the newest member of the BCI Women in Resilience Committee comes with a diverse skillset in the resilience industry. Not only is she an active panellist & speaker at various industry forums & conferences including The Economic Times Forum, Confederation of Indian Industries(CII), Secutech,  and the BCI but a champion of women in the resilience industry who had set up her own group of women in India.

The WiR committee are excited to have Ratna on the committee to represent, not only the women in India but aid in bringing together the skills,  value and challenges at a global level to help support the group.

Q: What brought you into the industry?

In all honesty, I landed in Business Continuity more by accident, than choice but it was ‘love at first experience’ of sorts and I decided to stick with it since then, in spite of getting many opportunities to branch out.

In my experience earlier, both in front & back office of the various Banks I worked in; Business continuity was just one of the aspects I managed. However, I got to understand the subject better & deeper when I joined HSBC in 2008 in their ‘Internal Control & Business Continuity’ division. So much so, that within 2 years I was offered the role of ‘Head of Business Continuity’ for their Global Operations & Technology Centres, which had 35 locations across 07 countries and managed circa 50,000 employees. That cemented my profile and when I was elevated to the role of ‘Head-Security & Fraud risk’ after 4 years, where BCM was one of the 5 risk functions that I managed, I continued to be known in the Organisation & Industry as a Business Resilience professional.

Q: How did you reach your current position? What challenges did you face?

Through sheer determination, perseverance, and grit. Like most other women, I have tried hard to juggle my personal & professional life, especially after my daughter was born. Also, I feel women need to try harder at work – to be heard, to be acknowledged and to be reckoned, but on hindsight, I think these challenges are what drove me & motivated me even more.

There was a point in HSBC, when my husband got a good job in another city and since my daughter was very young then, I had to take the painful decision to quit. But my manager suggested that I try working remotely and quit only if that did not work out. I took it up gratefully yet hesitantly since remote working was not so prevalent then. Thankfully, it worked out beautifully and I not only continued to work remotely for the next 8 years but also grew in grade & responsibilities along the way. Working remotely had its own challenges but helped me hone up the many skills required to succeed.

Q: Which specific skills do you think are needed to become a leader in your field?

I can think of three distinct skills that helped me and which I recommend strongly, irrespective of the profession or field chosen.

Firstly, the ability to communicate effectively, assertively and succinctly, both verbal & in writing. Probably considered one of the most basic but it is surely a key across-the-board leadership skill each one of us needs to develop and refine during our careers.

Secondly, being positive & passionate. I firmly believe that positivity is infectious, which further helps in having a motivated team. A positive ‘can do’ attitude is the first quality I look for when hiring team members as well.

Finally, relationship management. It is so important to be well networked and manage relationships, both within the Organisation and across professionals in the Industry.

Q: Do you think that the BCI WiR initiative will influence our industry? If yes, how?

Most definitely. Over the last 12 years in active BCM, I have spoken in many Seminars & Conferences and the one constant concern for me has been the lack of women on stage-as a panellist, speaker or moderator.

The BCI WiR initiative will surely help in a big way- not only for the events organised or the best practices or career advancement but more importantly for motivating each other. 

Q: What changes would you like to see in the profession?

From a subject matter perspective, I see Business Continuity pivoting towards a more holistic Business Resilience – which I think is the right direction, especially after the lessons learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic.

From an ancillary perspective, I would like to see more women actively participating and contributing to the profession.

Q: In your opinion, why should more people be joining the resilience community?

Resilience  will be the way forward for times to come. Currently, we are living in a multi-hazard world where risk is systemic and disaster impacts are cascading in the mostly unpredictable ways globally. For Organisations, pursuing operational resilience is not going to be a choice anymore.

Resilience will be the moving force behind the post-Covid-19 recovery phase just as ‘austerity’ was the buzzword of the recovery from the 2008 financial crisis.