A Look Back at the First Season of Business, Interrupted


Business resilience professionals have learned a lot during the pandemic, especially that when it comes to day-to-day operations, we’re no longer defined by the old ways of “business as usual.” In fact, the concept of business as usual is challenged daily, and will likely continue for the foreseeable future.

In the season one finale of Castellan’s podcast, “Business, Interrupted,” Castellan’s CSO Brian Zawada and Cheyene Marling, managing director of BC Management, share some of their favorite moments from throughout the season, reflecting on great insight picked up along the way and what that could mean for the converging future of resilience management today and in the future.

Throughout the first season, Marling served as host of the “Leaders” episodes, chatting with industry leaders who shared insight and inspiration from their careers, including key takeaways applicable to modern organizations facing disruptions and other challenges to business as usual. Zawada spearheaded conversations for the “Scenarios” episodes, homing in on specific situations and topics influencing continuity and resilience as we know it, including offering resources and insight inspired by actual events and experiences.

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For Zawada, he said he had a hard time narrowing down some of his favorite podcast moments, a notion echoed by Marling who said she loved hearing stories from so many industry thought-leaders.

Many of them I’ve been friends with for going on two decades,” she said. “And just hearing about their interesting stories on how they got to where they are today, how they stepped up instead of stepping down, how they really use a lot of their soft skills, their personal brand, and all their just incredible stories.”

While both hosts enjoyed their time talking with others in the industry, they’re quick to point out that although some experiences may have been different along career paths, ultimately, there were some significant themes that emerged throughout the first season, including:

  • The benefits of prioritizing risk management over disaster recovery
  • The role of effective communication for operational resilience
  • The value and necessity of executive buy-in and support
  • The value of human capital and the importance of employee engagement and recognition
  • Why relationship-building and partnerships are key to success—both internally and externally (customers, vendors, partners, the public)
  • How to build scalable, flexible, and adaptable programs
  • Creating a crisis-ready culture that goes beyond just writing plans and waiting for “if” a disruption may happen
  • Understanding and overcoming program barriers
  • How to strengthen programs with testing and exercises
  • Understanding risk and how to prioritize mitigation and response
  • The value of cross-functional collaboration and diverse skill sets
  • The increasing importance of soft skills for continuity and resilience leaders

Key Takeaways

While it was difficult for both Zawada and Marling to laser-focus on their favorite moments, in the season one finale, both point key takeaways they garnered while working on the podcast.

At the top of Marling’s list was the conversation she had in episode three with Michelle Turner, Head of Global Business Resiliency at Amazon, about communication, recalling how important it is that once you’ve earned a seat at the table, to make sure you’re communicating as necessary, not losing confidence that you’ve earned that opportunity. But it’s not just about talking. It’s about being an effective listener and speaking up as necessary.

Similarly, Marling cited how in episode one, Larry Knafo, Deputy CIO for the City of New York during 9/11, talked about the importance of getting out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself as you grow your career.

And finally, Marling drew on advice from Eddie Galang, Chief Information Security Officer at the Port of Long Beach, in episode seven when he encouraged others to never underestimate their team and to surround yourself with champions, looking to grow your team upward, too.

I thought he had some incredible advice in looking at his entire team structure and challenging them and challenging himself as a leader,” she said.

For Zawada, some of his key takeaways resounded as themes throughout the season.

“Culture came up over and over again,” he said, adding that another theme throughout the season was about complexity and how it’s important to look at ways to remove unnecessary complexities from business models, which will ultimately contribute to resilience.

Zawada also drew on the concept of being more concrete, meaning, when we talk about scenarios, focusing on specific threats, plausible and severe scenarios, and then being empowered to role-play and test against those concrete scenarios.

“I say concrete because it made it real for people,” he said. “And by being real, it really reinforced the boundaries, if you will, of what we’re trying to achieve with resilience management or the resilience movement.”

And finally, one of the most important points reflected on from throughout the season is a consensus among professionals that we’re never going to be able to predict every scenario we may face as continuity and resilience teams. Therefore, we have to have a flexible and adaptive approach to our programs and plans, along with the situational awareness to understand what’s coming, how it might affect your organization, and what the consequences could be.

The Emerging Role of Soft Skills

One last point of interest they both agreed upon was the emerging interest in and reliance on developing and applying soft skills, for example, emotional intelligence or situational awareness to resilience success.

You can have all the hard skills, you can have all the experience in the world, but it really came back to me with a common theme of the soft skills,” Marling said. “You need to have those soft skills in order to recognize opportunities, in order to challenge yourself, in order to grow as a professional within your career, and also to look at how to improve your program. So it’s more actionable. All the industry leaders that I had an opportunity to speak to this season, they really emphasized and drove home to me that those soft skills, the emotional intelligence, to be able to communicate across the entire organization, to be able to influence situational awareness.”

While these were some great moments during season one, there’s more good stuff in the works. Season two of “Business, Interrupted” launched on March 3rd and features leaders from Zoom, Netflix, OnSolve, and more.

Would you like to hear more of our conversation with Zawada and Marling? If you haven’t already, before you listen to the final episode, check out the other 11 episodes for more insight. You can find them all here or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

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