Planning for Senior Executive Mishaps that Affect the Corporation
By WILL GUNTHER
Every business conti- nuity manager devel- ops contingency plans for fires, floods, earthquakes and other disasters. The focus of these plans is to protect life, limit damage, and maintain business functions.
One of the most overlooked concerns
is that of a critical person becoming ill or
missing while visiting remote or austere
regions of the world. Traffic accidents,
falls, heart attacks and other illnesses are
far more common than major catastrophes
but are often overlooked. Of course there
are the more notable but less common
instances of corporate kidnapping or aircraft accidents like the disappearance of
American businessman and adventurer
Steve Fossett in 2008.
As a business continuity professional,
one must be aware of the nature of travel
used by senior executives. This will
assist in determining the types of locating
devices and flight plans filed by the pilots.
Fossett owned and operated the plane he
was flying. His plane had an emergency
locator transmitter (ELT) but no signal
Senior executives should be encouraged to maintain their own personal
40 DISASTER RECOVERY JOURNAL FALL 2009
locator beacon (PLB) that transmits
a satellite signal to identify the registered owner’s whereabouts. Some of the
latest models also transmit a GPS location. These devices can be manually
activated by the owner or anyone else
(such as the security detail) in the event
of a serious incident. Once the signal
is received by the satellite, the satellite
company contacts the number provided
by the registered PLB owner. This would
allow corporate executives to begin the
emergency response process and make
the necessary critical decisions. A PLB
could be effective in locating a kidnapping victim as well.
The time and cost necessary to recruit
and hire key personnel often is very long
and very expensive. However, both of
these issues pale in comparison to the
potential financial cost and loss of reputation because share holders lose confidence in the company’s profitability due
to the unknown whereabouts or health
condition of critical personnel. In these
situations, there can not be the slightest
appearance of a lack of business continuity planning. The following recommendations can help limit this potential
In general, we think of maintaining
communications to mean a cellular phone,
pager and a good contact number at the
hotel when key personnel are traveling.
However, in times of disaster these methods of communication don’t always work.
It is a good idea to maintain a satellite
phone that may be used from anywhere
in the world. In addition to just having
the phone, dialing instructions should be
maintained at the office and with the user.
These instructions should clearly explain
how to use the phone in various locations
in the world and vice versa.
In addition to disasters and other emergencies it is good to keep a satellite phone
when traveling to less-developed nations.
For example, sometimes in West African
countries, the phone system will go down
If a senior decision maker is out of the
communications loop that long, it could
mean the loss of hundreds of thousands of
dollars due to an inability to provide timely
decisions on various projects. There are
several different satellite phone systems
that provide various services, capabilities
and coverage. Some phones can even provide the user with their current geographical coordinates or enough bandwidth to
use the Internet.
In the event of a serious traffic accident or major illness, business continuity managers must make sure there is