Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Building Fortresses with Andrew Lawton- Interview

From very early history to modern times, walls have been a necessity for many cities. Protecting your livelihood and practising your defences was, and still is essential . We may not put walls up around all our lives and business in the literal sense, but what will you do to protect your business under threat? 

Build your Fortress of course! Inspiration is everywhere, and this time I welcome

Andrew Lawton to RISKercize

With international experiences in an array of fields including  risk management, Information Security & Compliance, Andrew is paving the way in Building Fortresses with that personal touch and reminding us what really makes recovery a success. People!  Read, enjoy and be inspired.

Your first job?
My very first job was actually picking potatoes which paid surprisingly well for a 16 year old. It was a summer job in Devon and I went on to work in an ice-cream factory helping to make choc ices.

I never used my degree in Microbiology but went straight into sales, selling insurance. It was definitely not the most glamorous of jobs but certainly gave me a good grounding in hard work that has stood me in good stead ever since.

What does Business Continuity mean you?
To me, Business Continuity planning is basic good practice that every responsible company director should ensure is undertaken for their business. Even outside of regulated industries it is an essential process of risk reduction and mitigation.

Your most memorable BC/DR situation that you were involved in?
My most memorable moment was when I was in the final stages of negotiation with a well known telecommunications equipment manufacturer aiming to implement a business continuity service for their Sun Microsystems server. 

I had dropped off the contract with the company and the Finance Director (they did not have CFOs in those days) had taken the contract home with him and was going to sign it over the weekend. 

That Friday evening at 7:01pm the IRA set off an enormous truck bomb at South Quay station, just a couple of hundred yards from their office, opening their building up like a tin can.

Your inspiration to start your own recovery site?
Much has changed in the business continuity market in the past 20 years. 

Now many organisations look to cloud services, either public or private, to provide their disaster recovery provision for their IT. There are now many providers delivering good DRaaS and Managed Services and I felt that I wanted to partner in this area rather than compete.

What you cannot put into the cloud of course is people and so there is still a requirement for work area recovery (WAR).

The size of WAR requirements has reduced due to the greater flexibility that staff have these days to work from home. This has taken the size of WAR contracts below the radar for the bigger global business continuity service providers who are focusing as businesses on Managed Services, Colo or DRaaS.

However, I am finding that there is still a core of approximately 10% of a company that needs to work together to be efficient, make faster and more effective decisions and to speed up communication. This is even more the case at the time of a disaster.

Although the number of work area positions needed by companies has reduced and the values have correspondingly reduced businesses still want to feel that they are valued and important customers and that their service provider is flexible and attentive.

So it is into this market that I am going to be opening the new recovery centre, to answer this need. 

 How will this be different to other recovery sites in the market?
The recovery centre in itself will be remarkably similar to others in the market. It will be newer of course and have the latest tech.

The difference from Fortress will be in the delivery of that service and the value that is wrapped around it.

What I have found is that many of those with BC responsibility in mid-tier businesses have BC as only a part of their role. As a result they are looking for someone to come in and take the problem away, to help them address their organisation’s needs as quickly and effectively as possible.

To this end, we have reviewed the aligned vendors in the BC space and evaluated those that are most relevant to our key customers. These include vendors providing DRaaS, Cloud Backup, Crisis Communications, Crisis Transport and Business Continuity Consultancy services.

We will provide our customers with our research and they, if they have the need, will be able to incorporate the services from these vendors into the one service agreement with Fortress. The aim is to deliver a complete business continuity solution from one source.

Fortress customers will also receive a free Crisis Management and Business Continuity Workshop for their executives to review and understand their current position, where they need to get to and how to get to that point. The aim is to instil an understanding of the risks and potential mitigations at board level and to gain buy in across the organisation for the business continuity plans thereby raising its profile.

 Expected Live Date?
The site is expected to go live at the end of October. 

Advice for anyone else who wants to start their own business?
The key to starting your own business is really understanding your market and validating your opinion against the opinions of others. Listen particularly hard to those people who do not agree with your point of view to understand why they think that way.

Get a good mentor, someone that has built a business before, preferably in the same market. Take their advice.

And when you have clear plans, understand the market have validated that your customers are real and really want to buy from you - go for it. 

RISKercizing until next time..