What does a disaster management consultant do? 

John Gawne is the Managing Director of Resilient Services. He founded the consultancy in 2018 with the aim of providing businesses with specifically tailored approaches to risk and disaster management, using his extensive experience in the sector to develop solutions for ASX Top 100 companies, government bodies and more. After spending almost 30 years working within the energy, construction and utility sectors, John’s exposure to and involvement in a variety of projects internationally has made him versatile and highly knowledgeable. We have had the privilege of John answering some questions to give us a better understanding of his role as a disaster management consultant. 

 

Could you give us an overview of what disaster management is? What does it cover? 

Disaster management is a combination of risk and resilience management. It involves analyzing risks in order to understand how they can be minimized or be prevented from occurring entirely. We then set plans to deal with emergencies that could arise as they occur. 

 

What attracted you to pursue a career in the disaster management field? 

During the time I was working in the electricity and gas industry, the emergency manager for the company I was working with left. Shortly after, I was asked if I wanted to take his role, but I initially declined it. After talking with management, I decided to give it a try for a month and to my surprise, I loved it. After working in a role that was beginning to become quite stale and repetitive, the variety that working in disaster management provided was a welcome change. One day you are visiting oil rigs, the next you are conducting interviews and then the week after that, you are conducting mock exercises or even managing a live emergency. No two days are the same, and ever since I had that first taste of the disaster management world, I never looked back. 

 

What is the value of having a disaster management plan in place? 

Having a disaster or emergency management plan in place means that, should such an event occur, we have already planned for how to avoid, respond, and recover from an emergency while having every resource available. Without a plan, you increase the likelihood that your organisation will have of losing control of the disaster, having threats to personnel safety and business security, which could ultimately lead to your organisation losing out financially. Imagine your business foreseeing a risk before it occurs, and instead of ignoring it like your competitors, you instead choose to act on it, and thereby minimise or completely avoid the negative impacts it could have on your business. It can provide a strategic competitive advantage, as you will likely be trading long before your competitors will. 

 

What are the key considerations you must make when creating disaster management plans for businesses? 

Having awareness of the likely threats that could impact your business is a key consideration, along with understanding your business’ resources and skillsets. A plan must be commensurate with both the threats to and capabilities of your organisation. BAU processes will not cater for an emergency, so create role cards or checklists that are easily followed, and ensure staff are trained with regular practice exercises. 

 

In the future, do you think there may be different types of disasters to prepare for that we might not have considered now? 

Pandemics are a fitting example of a known threat to worldwide business operations, but were considered to be highly unlikely until this recent turn of events. Sadly, new threats that we may not consider as likely to impact us are emerging such as threats to cyber security and the use of more sophisticated ransomware technology. The impacts of climate change and the potential of souring international relations also come to mind. While these international-level risks are a cause for concern, we cannot allow them to overshadow things like power outages, internet interruptions, industrial action etc. as these can also cause significant problems for both local and global communities. We must consider both the macro and micro risks when considering emergency or disaster events. 

 

Industries that are offered disaster management planning: 

 

John and our highly skilled team of consultants here at Resilient Services are here to help you and your business prepare for any kind of emergency, disaster or crisis. If your business is in need of a disaster management consultant, contact us today to see what we can do for your business.