Hot Jobs: Business Continuity Manager

Job description: A business continuity manager (BCM) creates plans to keep a company functioning after disruptive events such as natural disasters, terrorism, crime and computer and human error. They do a detailed, companywide business impact analysis and risk assessment that includes IT systems, building facilities, personnel and supply chain, says Roberta J. Witty, a Gartner research vice president. Starting with Y2K, companies have become more aware of the need to have disaster recovery and business continuity plans, experts say.

ABC: An introduction to business continuity and disaster recovery planning

Why you need one: You need to have a business continuity manager, says Jim Lanzalotto, vice president of strategy and marketing at Yoh. "The cost of entry for any company is to have someone like this working for them, given the geopolitical and other risks," he says. Organizations that fail to conduct comprehensive business impact analyses and draft detailed business continuity plans could be in violation of regulations, especially in industries like finance. Plus, being unprepared in the event of a major disruption is simply bad for business. Companies have also had to expose their IT systems to the outside world via the Web, which creates a bigger security risk, says David Van De Voort, principal human capital consultant at Mercer.

Desired skills: Between five and 10 years in a consulting role, either internal or external, that has given a candidate a broad view of a company's processes. For example, a candidate from IT should have been involved in supporting specific units, like finance or operations, says Patrick Gray, president of Prevoyance Group, an IT strategy consulting firm. "You must be able to look at processes from an operational perspective and figure out what's critical, what needs to be duplicated and how to lay it all out," he says. A variety of certifications apply to this job, including those from DRI International (DRII) and Business Continuity Institute (BCI).

How to find one: Trade groups, such as DRII and BCI, are good recruitment sources, Lanzalotto says.

What to look for: BCMs must be good salespeople since they often encounter resistance. "Business continuity is a tough sell when everything is going fine and there are other priorities you could be spending your money on that might generate immediate returns," Gray says. So BCMs must be good communicators, think strategically and understand the company's operations.

Elimination round: Gray suggests asking, How do you achieve a balance between building a good business continuity plan and something that's unwieldy and overkill? The answer should reveal insight into the process a candidate would use to establish what's critical.

Salary range: $75,000 to $125,000

Growing your own: This is a job that really lends itself to growing one's own candidates because there is such a variety of certifications and training available that can be coupled with a deliberate career path, Lanzalotto says. "You can really build this person internally," he says. People with strong project management skills are good candidates, as well as those who have shown they can work across teams.

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