1) Take BCM education at an institution of higher learning
2) Take BCM education at a training or professional organization
The academic alternative provides a means to receive a degree or certificate from a recognized institution of higher learning. The institution provides the ability to incorporate BCM into a larger context. BCM can be incorporated into a risk management curriculum with an emphasis on operational and enterprise risk. This provides for greater inspection of quantifiable effects and preventative measures that may provide the basis for return on investment (ROI) analysis. Additionally, there is the possibility of examining full risk transfer in the context of insurance (business interruption, contingent business interruption, extra expense, etc. insurance protection), as well as the mitigation components that will serve as a preventative measure in the risk arena.
BCM can also be incorporated in a security/emergency response curriculum with an emphasis on prevention in an all hazards environment. This would encompass the preparation, stronger emphasis on recognition, respond, and recover. The subject matter would have an emphasis on incident command systems, risk assessment, activity monitoring and deployment. This courseware would serve as springboard for understanding government responsibilities (federal, state and municipal, as well as international) and working in concert with operational protocols. This curriculum would be more likely to examine causes of interruptions and the immediate action to reduce those causes. Also there would be an examination of insurance coverage, but more focused on property and casualty insurance that would result from a damaged bricks and mortar perspective.
Clearly there could be a curriculum that would combine the above two disciplines providing for a more all encompassing approach. Higher education has great advantages in being on the leading edge of delivery of classroom materials. Whether it be in using the full resources of the institution in a physical attendance scenario or the greater use of faculty and technology in delivering information in a distance learning setting, the institution brings a great deal of benefit to the student. In fact several schools have created an integrated BCM degree that employs just such a curriculum.
Undoubtedly there is an advantage to being educated in BCM at an institution of higher learning. A degree or certificate from a recognized institution of higher education has a certain caché reflective of the academic status of the college or university. In addition, it may be more easily funded through corporate education programs that provide for reimbursement to the employee. Government loan and grant programs are more easily accessible through recognized and credentialed institution. For example, the Montgomery GI Bill provides for reimbursement for active duty as well as some selected reserve personnel. The Reserve Educational Assistance Program also provides education benefits to recognized educational institutions, as does the Veterans Educational Assistance Program for active duty veterans.
The additional benefit is one that is generally recognized as a significant reason for attending schools -- diversity. Diversity of individual background, diversity of work experience, diversity of culture, diversity of national infrastructure and diversity of thought help to make institutions of higher learning the perfect setting for the exchange of ideas, experience and perspectives.
One could reach the conclusion that there is no better venue for BCM than institutions of higher learning. The obvious cultural, education and financial benefits of taking BCM education sponsored by an institution of higher learning cannot be underestimated. It certainly represents the wave of the future as demonstrated by the number of two and four year colleges now providing such education. Estimates of the number of schools vary but it is safe to say that at least 25 percent of schools now have BCM as part of a degree or certificate program.
So why would anyone choose to take BCM education at a training or professional organization? The answer may not lie in the nature of the entity providing the education, but in the end result of taking such training.
Much of BCM training, as performed by various non-profit professional organizations and for profit training companies are a means to a more tangible end. The aim of this training is to prepare students for qualifying examinations that will lead to an industry recognized credential in BCM. The purpose is less lofty than those espoused by higher education, but certainly more pragmatic. The goal is to either provide credentials for entering the job market in a specific discipline or to gain a promotion or other advancement in an already existing employment. As the motivation for education, in any form, may be directly related to the advancement of a vocation, then the issue of whether institutions of higher learning on their own, and the degree/certificate acquired from the institution, will have a substantial effect upon meeting the career goals of the student comes into question.
The eventual judgment is not made by the institution of higher learning or the training organizations, but by the ultimate arbitrator – the employment market. While there is much to be said for certificates or degrees issued by institutions of higher learning and their relative importance in the employment market, their recognition has substantial geographic boundaries. The recognition factor is directly related to the range of influence that the school may have within a geographic market. This correlates to the recognition factor within the area, as well as the influence of alumni that completed the program.
In an era where an HR department receives hundreds of electronic resumes (as well as using the resources of Monster.com, Careerbuilders.com, Theladder.com, Hotjobs.com, et al), the impersonalization of the HR key word search is the determinant by which candidates are even considered for a position. Currently, the use of university or college program designations is NOT one of the search keys being used. This is partly because the programs have not been in existence for a long enough period of time for industry to determine their value. It is also because there are accepted and proven professional designations that do have a legacy of proven experience that the job market associates with value based training and experience.
The experience factor that is built into professional certification designation is not part of the degree factor also helps distinguish candidates for specific positions. Certification programs have multiple designations that correlate to levels and depth of experience, making it a more comprehensive guide for evaluation of applicants.
So how do we combine the inherent benefits of both the academic and the professional credentialing world? DRI International has been trying to solve this problem for the last few years and has created a low cost solution that will integrate DRI International’s courseware with the academic standards of institutions of higher learning. This enhances the value of the learning experience for the student and provides industry recognition to the school.
Currently there are a number of pilot programs being conducted around the country. Some are traditionally based classroom work, while others are being conducted using distance learning technology. By using proven courseware there is a consistency in the materials. This quality assurance is expanded to include the qualifications of the instructor corps. DRI International has worked with the academic institution to provide them with access to DRI International qualified instructors or has trained their adjuncts in the delivery of the materials. This combined with the ability of the instructor to have access to the full educational resources (instructors, case studies, reference materials, etc.) through access to DRI International’s director of education, creates a synergy that benefits the institution and the student.
One example of the program’s value can be seen at Adelphi University in New York. Adelphi has an existing graduate degree in emergency management that is recognized as one of the 234 national homeland security programs. Adelphi felt that the benefits of integrating a homeland security program recognized program in emergency management with a course in BCM, leading to a globally recognized industry certification, provides a more balanced approach. By combining the prestige of a nationally recognized University with the employer recognized certification in BCM (as is being done by such Adelphi University) the objective of providing the student with a quality education and at the same time making the student more appealing to the labor market can be met.
The flexibility of integrating DRI International’s courseware on BCM with existing emergency management, enterprise risk management, operational risk management and IT security allows students to maintain an academic concentration while seeking a globally recognized professional credential. The end result is that not only would a student get an advanced degree (or certificate), but by passing the DRI International exam, as part of their coursework, they would also be eligible to gain a professional certification designation by successfully completing the DRI International application process. This would lead to a new generation of college and university trained professionals that would be enter the marketplace with the knowledge to participate in helping public and private sector organizations prepare to meet the challenges that face the world today and tomorrow.
Alan Berman is a CBCP, MBCI, is a member of the ASIS BS25999 technical committee, a member of the Committee of Experts for ANSI-ANAB, a former member of the NY City Partnership for Security and Risk Management, executive director for Disaster Recovery Institute and the co-chair for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation committee to create the new standard for the US Private Sector Preparedness Act (PL 110-53).
"Appeared in DRJ's Spring 2009 Issue"