Education / Women in Business Continuity Management

Spotlight on Women in Business Continuity: Alexandria Brennan

The Women in Business Continuity Management (WBCM) group shines a spotlight on accomplished women across the field of business continuity and related fields.

For the first series in Spotlight on Women in Business Continuity, we have interviewed each of the members of the Women in Business Continuity Management Charter Committee on their experiences in the field. The leaders of WBCM come from a diverse range of industries, and provide unique perspectives based on their experiences in the field.

Brennan, Alex.jpgAlexandria Brennan
WBCM Charter Committee Role: Vice Chair and Development Committee Lead
Current Role: Business Continuity Analyst, at State Street Bank (Financial Services industry)

What business continuity related industries have you worked in?
My business continuity experience is in the financial services industry. My prior experience was in marketing and staffing.  At the bank, my focus is on the governance side of business continuity – writing and enforcing policies and standards, program management of business units’ continuity programs, and overarching incident management.

Tell us about your overall background and how you got into this field.
It is sometimes a cliché in this industry, but I somewhat stumbled into business continuity.  I was drawn to the city of Boston and was intrigued by State Street Bank, where I initially started in an administrative capacity. I was given responsibility for marketing our business continuity planning to the bank’s employees, to try to give all employees a base level of knowledge about business continuity and how to be prepared.  I was thoroughly intrigued by business continuity as an industry and a practice, and have transitioned over to the field.  I didn’t really know about business continuity beforehand, but the more I learn, the more I enjoy it.

What do you enjoy about your job?
I really enjoy the variety. No day is the same. The way I think about it is that every day is like opening a Christmas present – sometimes you get exactly what you hoped for, and sometimes it’s a surprise and you do the best you can with what you get.  Some days focus on the everyday planning and preparedness, and then other days we are focused on response to mitigating events.  Even looking at incidents, they often require very different mitigation.  We have to connect with new people across the organization, and find new ways of resolving issues.  I also love the after-action process, of looking at what we did well and what we can do better.  It’s a great way to learn and lets us focus on continual improvement.

The other thing I especially like about this job is the collaboration.   I’m in a tight-knit department that feels like family, and we gather together as a team to get the job done when there is an incident.  I like bouncing ideas off of each other, and knowing that we’re in this together.

What aspect of business continuity are you passionate about, and why?
My favorite part of this job is the ability to take care of people. I have always been interested in helping the community, and the life safety element of business continuity especially appealed to me.  I didn’t know beforehand how much this job would involve taking care of people and their safety, and that aspect is deeply appealing and satisfying to me.  Our overarching goal is to make sure that people are safe and able to work.  A job doesn’t get better than that.

I’m also motivated by the big picture nature of business continuity. Knowing that we are the driving force behind the success and continuation of a company of this magnitude is incredible.  Our bank has so many regulations and is entrusted with customers’ investments, and we help keep that secure.  Knowing that we’re a vital cog in that important wheel makes me feel good.

Thank you for volunteering as a member of the WBCM Charter Committee.  What are your hopes for how the WBCM group will impact people or the industry?
I believe strongly in the need for mentorship, and am passionate about giving back to the community through volunteer work.

Mentorship is so important to allow professionals to learn and share with each other, in a two-way exchange.  My manager suggested I seek out a mentor, and that was great advice. I benefitted so much from the conversations with my mentor, and got ideas from her on how to deal with situations I was facing, and reassurance that other people face the same situations and decisions.  On the flip side, senior individuals still can learn from more junior individuals because there is a mutually beneficial examining of a situation, and input from a different perspective.  I can see the benefits of a two-way collaboration between strong women in the industry, and my goal is to be a champion of mentorship in business continuity.

I would like to promote volunteer work within WBCM.  I worked with DRI’s Veterans group on designing and filming an awareness video, and I was impressed both by DRI’s dedication to those who served our country, and was impressed by the way our veterans came together in a group and found ways to give back to the broader community such as sponsoring individuals for training and certification. I’d love to see WBCM do something similar. We have real opportunities to give back to the community and build our continuity community at the same time.  Volunteering can be benefit an individual, and also a long-term investment in the industry.