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Startacus learns about Business Continuity...

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by Alastair Cameron

Deborah Stewart, Young Enterprise Business Advisor & Business owner, writes for Startacus on Business Continuity and getting her light bulb moment...

Norfolk students get savvy about Business Continuity

Storms, fire, terrorism, floods and disease, hundreds of business minded Norfolk Students have learnt how to be prepared for anything that life can throw at them.

Amazingly I am now in my fifth year of running the Business Continuity Award Scheme for young people. Yes, I know for some these words would flow quite nicely over your head, so let me tell you all about how this came about and why run an award scheme for young people.

BUSINESS CONTINUITYBack in 2006, there I was quite happily working with a very busy, and sometimes hectic, work schedule. DR Debbie was my nickname (no, not doctor, D.R abbreviated - Disaster Recovery). Alongside this, I was also doing Business Continuity in a technical and business capacity. Translated as: IT with end-2-end business testing, & managing how to plan for an incident or emergency that would affect the business. I loved my job, but found that I needed a release from this very demanding role & became a volunteer business advisor for Young Enterprise. Yes, I know, “more work”, this was different. Helping young people within Norfolk schools to develop their own business, they would run this over a full academic year. I loved it, & when I was asked to be a business advisor the following year, I jumped at it.

(For info - Young Enterprise (YE) is the UK's largest business and enterprise Charity. Each year, through a range of programmes, it reaches more than 320,000 young people aged from four years through to 25. YE programmes are based on the principle of learning by doing and bring volunteers from businesses into the classroom to work with link teachers & students.)

In the meantime, working in my role as Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Technical Lead,& attending the odd seminar which assisted my CPD (Continuing Professional Development).

During a Business Continuity Seminar, a comment was made about educating the younger generation in Business Continuity had been difficult……………Then I had a "light bulb" moment! There I am working in a business environment in disaster recovery & Business Continuity; I knew the process, plans & requirements of putting together these plans. In conjunction with this, I was a business advisor for YE, so had a contact in putting together a programme for Business Continuity.

After a lot of thought, and a mountain of notes & ideas of how this could possibly work, I needed to speak with my Manager at work and Sarah at NORMIT (Norfolk Major Incident Team), to see how we could take this forward.

The next day, I booked a meeting with my manager - Alan Goulder - who without his support and help the award scheme would not have been such a success in the initial couple of years, today he comes along & gives a scenario based case study for the students, & engages them in to thinking "outside the box ".

He thought the idea of the Business Continuity Award scheme for young people, and running it alongside the Young Enterprise programme, was great, and that I would be allowed the time to work on the project, also making the suggestion that maybe the company (Norwich Union) would offer some sponsorship.

All this in mind, I made appointments to see Sarah -NORMIT to see if she wanted to work with me on the initial project, and Patricia Hagan of Young Enterprise and to get her "buy in" too, she was more than happy to allow this to happen.

2007/2008 saw the launch of the first Business Continuity Award Scheme for young People. This is when the hard work started, but its one project I have never looked back on, & hope to run it for many years to come.

I do hope you have enjoyed reading this, and any comments/discussions would be welcome. Till next time, you can always check out my website 

Deborah Stewart MBCI MBCS

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Published on: 26th September 2012

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