World leading authority in disaster recovery, business continuity
planning, and security
week, Stephen Ibaraki, I.S.P., has an exclusive interview with
Dexada Jorgensen, a world leading expert on disaster recovery,
business continuity planning and security.
Telus [formerly BCTEL], Dexada has worked extensively in data
communications design; as a course designer and instructor; a
manager in disaster recovery programs, data warehousing, and
information management; and in corporate business continuity and
Dexada’s international reputation and extensive experience, she has
provided her valuable services to telcos, governments, utilities,
agencies and organizations including the UN and NATO.
past, she was on-loan to the UN ITU-T Study Group 2. Her involvement
has included creating presentations, web and workshop materials; and
doing the presentations, giving and participating in workshops
internationally. Some of these were held in London, England; Geneva,
Switzerland; Brisbane (the Gold Coast) in Australia, and Amman,
Jordan. She also did a workshop in Miami for Verizon (then GTE) for
their international business units and consulting team. There was a
G8 meeting in Berlin that she participated in, and an International
Energy Agency workshop in Prague where she presented.
Recently, Dexada attended (presented and was on a discussion panel)
for the inaugural conference for ETR2A in Newcastle Upon Tyne in the
UK in June. The ETR2A is the European Telecommunications Resilience
and Recovery Association.
Dexada, thank you for spending time with us and sharing your wealth
are welcome. The value in any knowledge is in the sharing of it, so
thank you for this opportunity.
list of accomplishments and executive roles are impressive indeed!
Which ones standout foremost in your mind and what lessons can you
share with our audience?
Thank you for the compliments. It is not so much the
accomplishments and executives roles that stand out but the people
that I have met and the lessons I have learned ‘the hard way’.
There are a number of people that I could list that I have learned
from, but space doesn’t permit to list all of them; there have been
some exemplary ones. Of the lessons, the first that stands out in
memory was when I was a university student taking my first computing
science course. It was three months into the course before I had
made a coding mistake. As I was endeavouring to be ‘perfect’, I
didn’t know how to find, then fix the mistake. I discovered that I
learned more from my mistakes than from trying to be ‘perfect’. (I
did find and correct the coding problem).
key learning was when I first started to work with BC TEL. It was
great working with the other MIS types, I was in my element, but we
had to talk to the ‘user’. I quickly realized that it wasn’t good
enough to be knowledgeable; you had to be able to communicate
effectively. This isn’t taught in the math and pure science courses
in school. So the people and communications skills are vital. I
find that really brilliant people are able to explain complex ideas
in simple terms.
drives you to do what you do?
a personal perspective it is and has been curiosity, from a family
perspective it was always being able to provide for my family.
you share your experiences from your recent conference for ETR2A? We
appreciate the details, and solutions!
ETR2A inaugural conference was a great opportunity to exchange
information at an international level with people from both business
and academic sectors. It was, as with most conferences of this
type, attended by people who have knowledge and interest in
emergency telecommunications. The issues and questions were not
that much different from conferences that I have attended in other
countries. What I did find different was the level of academic
involvement; it was much greater than at most other conferences that
I have attended. One discussion that stands out was around the idea
of a common lexicon for use in the BCP environment; this lead to a
lively exchange of ideas between business and academic types but not
to a common lexicon result. What did result was that the conference
ended with action items. So often we attend seminars, and
conferences and we do take back knowledge to our businesses, but in
the whole what do we do, as a group of knowledgeable people, is to
further either the education of those who are not attending these
events or to make some progress on a global level with regard to
issues in our business. We will see by the next ETR2A conference,
if the objectives have been achieved.
have held various leadership positions. Please provide your top tips
on effective leadership.
Tips: 1) Learn from those leaders whom you admire and would
follow. Learn also from those who have the position but whom you do
not admire and would not follow – what not to do. 2) Have
compassion and recognize achievements of team members. Do not abuse
the position, with leadership, comes responsibility. 3) Build a
great team – if you look at the magnificent buildings and monuments
that have been created by man – they have been achieved not through
one person but through teams of people. 4) Listen to your team
members. 5) Believe in what you are doing. There is nothing quite
so motivating as a firm belief in self and objectives. 6) If you
make a mistake admit it, correct it and get on with it. 7) Know
when to step aside and let others take the lead – you should be
assisting others to become leaders.
by no means a complete list of do’s and don’ts of leadership but
items that I feel are important.
current and future advice can you provide to businesses concerning
security, disaster recovery, and business continuity planning? In
addition, what are the major challenges facing businesses two and
five years from now? What are your solutions?
Current and future advice?
that you have an enterprise wide model for risk management – this
includes all facets of the company with functions such as security,
disaster recovery, business continuity planning, safety,
environment, audit, insurance, legal at the core. In this risk
management model, ensure that roles and responsibilities are well
defined and that responsible risk management is part of the
corporate culture. This model would require top down support with
measurable objectives and companies should be putting their best
people on it.
challenge right now is ‘Who is responsible?’ from an industry
perspective. This was a key discussion at the ETR2A conference.
For example: if there is a virus (or other computer ‘threat’), who
is responsible for ensuring that is it addressed? Is it the
manufacturer (hardware company – whose firmware may have a
vulnerability), the software company (whose software may have a
vulnerability), the telecommunications provider, the ISP (Internet
Service Provider), the user? While this discussion is going on –
companies should do the best they can to protect themselves and
their clients. I think that this discussion will be going on both
in two years and in five years – it is a huge issue that I don’t
think will be solved in the short term.
are different groups of people working on different aspects of the
problems and challenges facing the industry. Some are industry
based; others government based and some have combined the talents of
both. There are international groups that have talented and
informed individuals studying the problems and have produced papers
addressing some of the issues. I say some as, as soon as one issue
is addressed a new one forms – that is the nature of the wonderful
world of computing.
Specific to telecommunications, since Sept. 11, Industry Canada has
been working with various sectors about congestion. It was
recently announced (early Oct., 2003) that “Industry Canada plans
emergency calling card to beat telephone congestion”. This will
take some time to implement but first responders and those entities
who are part of response plans will certainly be tracking the
progress of this new calling scheme.
advising CIOs and CEOs, where is the industry heading in the short,
medium and long-term in the areas involving your areas of expertise?
the changes in the telecommunications environment – where
competition is now a major corporate concern – company executives
and senior management have one eye on the bottom line and the other
on the competition. This focus sometimes may mean that anything
that is outside of those lines-of-site may not be managed properly
e.g. risks. The other problem as I see it is that there have been
so many recent events – that many BCP teams have only been able to
be reactive rather than proactive. This can be very stressful for
personnel and CIOs and CEOs need to ensure that their teams are
adequately staffed and all departments are engaged.
Where would our readership find the best resources in your areas of
expertise? Can you provide specifics?
There is no one-stop shop (yet) for BCP, Security or Disaster
Recovery. Conferences, academic courses, seminars and people who
are recognized in their field are great resources.
academic courses locally, the Justice Institute has a certification
program and great courses such as the Incident Command System (aka
BCERMS British Columbia Emergency Response Management System). SFU
has courses re emergency (tele)communications. There are a number
of Canadian conferences. The next one is Oct. 27-29, 2003 in
Vancouver; information can be obtained at
http://www.epconference.ca/. Many educational institutions
across Canada give courses – for municipalities there are a number
of courses offered out of Arnprior. Internationally there are
universities and colleges that offer courses – e.g. San Louis
Obispo. One would have to review the course descriptions to
determine if they are geared toward the public or private sector.
These are just a few sources.
Remember though that what you learn is the basis for more learning –
learn how to formulate the questions to ask, and then how to answer
them. Also know that people whom you learn from are knowledgeable
based on their experience. As an example in the mid ’90’s I spoke
with a fire fighter from San Francisco. He had experienced the Loma
Prieta earthquake, Oct. 17 1989. He had great stories to tell, but
he was years later, telling others that the only communication that
would work after an earthquake was cellular phones. In 1989, cell
phone technology was new and phones expensive. Not many people had
them – so there was no congestion then. We know now that with some
of the major snowfalls that we have had in the Vancouver area,
people driving home on the #1 Highway have had have a difficult time
getting through on their cell phones to call home to say they are
Considering recent news events, the state of global affairs, and our
current economic situation, if you were doing this interview, what
three to five questions would you ask of someone in your position
and what would be your answers?
Recent events – the Afghanistan ‘war’, the Iraqi war, the terrorist
problems, the power outage in the east, the heat wave in Europe, the
fires in Alberta and BC …..it has been an eventful year. The wars
and issues around wars are outside the scope of this interview as it
is such a large topic and I feel could be better answered by someone
closer to those events. Re the other domestic issues: the common
questions after any such event are “How could we have foreseen
this?”, “How could we have better prepared?”, and “How better could
have we responded?” These questions have been asked as recorded by
the media where people are asking about the deployment of
firefighters and equipment for the Kelowna fire.
are the answers? It is important to remember that not all people
have the answers unless and until an event occurs and even then we
can learn more with the next event. This is unfortunate but true.
These questions are basic to Business Continuity Planning and
Disaster Recovery – and can generate much discussion.
ignore these events just because your company wasn’t or you
personally were not directly impacted. For companies and
individuals – “What would you have done in any of these events?”
last question is probably ‘THE ONE’ that I as an interviewer would
ask. The long answer would be ‘Depends on the event’ and then
listing a number of things that one could do. The short answer is
that these events remind us that we should be prepared
individually. In the past, for my family and home, I have focused
on being prepared for an earthquake but not a wildland fire as a
threat to my home. So among other things, I’ve reviewed our home
plan, checked our supplies and talked with my family about all those
things that they don’t really want to talk about. For businesses,
it is an important reminder to review their BCP and response plans.
Thank you for taking time out of your demanding schedule to spend
time with us sharing your valuable insights.
are welcome, Stephen. The next ETR2A conference will be held June
2004 in Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK and for those interested check out
the website for One NorthEast, The Development Agency for the North
East of England
http://www.onenortheast.co.uk/ the will be posting information
closer to the conference date.