So, I experienced a “I don’t think I’m in Kansas anymore moment” as soon as I got off the escalator and entered the baggage claim area of New Orleans’ airport. There, right in front of me, stood a gentlemen in a suit holding a sign with my name on it, waiting to transport me to my hotel. He quickly grabbed my luggage and escorted me to the Lincoln Town Car that I would be riding in. I don’t don’t think I’ve ever been in a Lincoln Town Car in my life and I’ve certainly never been chauffured around. Quietly, I smiled and laughed a little, knowing that my few days here in New Orleans were going to be quite different than my initial time spent here last year as an AmeriCorps NCCC member working for Rebuilding Together New Orleans.
While volunteering and helping out with this conference, I have assisted with a myriad of tasks, preparing for the event and ensuring that everything runs smoothly. However, more importantlyI have been fortunate enough to sit it on a number of sessions on Business Continuity. Business continuity is a vital part of every organization or business and ensures its sustainability in the event of a man-made or natural disaster, pandemnic outbreak or data breach incident. I came into this conference hoping to view disaster response from a business perspective and honestly not really knowing what I was getting myself into.
This experience has proven to be very beneficial and informative. I must admit, I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb as I am quite possibly the youngest attendee and the only one representing the non-profit sector. Nonetheless, I have sat in on sessions on public/private partnerships with regard to disaster planning, psychological first aid for compagnies affected by a disaster, how climate change affects risk management, lessons learned from the H1N1 pandemnic, what the next generation of business continuity professionals looks like and much more.
I would encourage any of you who may be reading to step outside of your comfort zone and as Eleanor Roosevelt once said “Do one thing every day that scares you”. Networking and interacting with top business professionals in this field and sitting in on advanced lectures on complex topics has certainly been intimidating. However, I feel like I have strengthened my interpersonal and networking skills as a result and more importantly I am coming away with an understanding of an entirely different aspect of disaster response and recovery.