LinkedIn is a great social media tool to keep in touch with colleagues in our industry. Currently, I have a little over 1,100 1st-degree connections - with a portion of those contacts originating from my first post-college job, over 25 years ago.
One of the features I enjoy the most about the LinkedIn service is the notification feed that keeps me updated with career changes for my 1st-degree connections. This notification process is how this article was eventually spawned.
I received an update that Jeff Hornung - a one-time colleague who I first met in 1993 - started a new position as the Vice President of Enterprise Resilience.
Jeff has continued to thrive in his career in Information Technology (IT), starting back when I was a Network Programmer and he was the Database Administrator (DBA) supporting the various database systems at what was then referred to as American United Life (AUL). The one I remember him supporting the most was Sybase running on Novel NetWare 3.x. This was back when the talk on the street was that the mainframe was going away.
Reading the announcement for Jeff's new position, led to me reaching out via LinkedIn's message system to ask some questions. Before I realized it, our conversation quickly gravitated into an interview format. Based upon the content, I gained Jeff's permission to share our conversation as a DZone interview - allowing him to share his vision of Enterprise Resilience.
John Vester: Upon noticing your promotion at One America, I became intrigued and must know ... what exactly is Enterprise Resilience?
Jeff Hornung: Ensuring the company can get back to its prior state (or at least an appropriately defined functional state) to meet the needs of our customers as quickly as possible following an adverse event. Our Enterprise Resilience program includes business continuity, emergency management, crisis management, and a tight link to IT disaster recovery.
What type of individuals make up the Enterprise Resilience team? What skills are involved?
They must be well trusted to have the best interests of the company in mind. Here at OneAmerica®, trust must include both character and competence. Skills and competencies we value include: certification as a Business Continuity Planner (CBCP, by the Disaster Recovery Institute International) and business-focused; a strong communicator, listener, and trainer; a relationship builder as well as a big picture, proactive thinker; willing to be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year; a consensus builder, but also ready to lead/direct when asked to step up; passionate, problem owner, delegator; able and willing to understand, relate to, and work with business lines; a critical thinker for the variety of events and situations that will come; and a high-impact event planner.
In general, funding a new initiative can be an expensive effort. Establishing an initiative which is not directly tied to a given product or feature set can be a tough decision to quantify. What made your corporation decide to create an Enterprise Resilience team?
OneAmerica is growing quickly. We take very seriously our promises to be there when our customers, clients, and policyholders need us most. That means that we need to make sure we can have systems and services available, in a reasonable period of time, no matter what comes our way. This new team allows specific focus on these topics so we can make sure the entire company knows what to do in an adverse event.
In your view, what is the biggest threat your group is protecting against?
Obviously, cyber events and natural disasters are both of high concern. We have plans for those events as well as IT outages, financial market issues, civil disturbances, pandemics, etc. We have to keep in touch with the changing business climate risks.
How closely do you work with business lines and other Information Technology resources?
Very closely. The ability to do business is the reason we are all here. We need to understand their risks, challenges, and needs in risk priority order. As we all know, very few business tasks get done without IT systems. We certainly do not do this alone. We have great business leaders and subject matter professionals that make all this work.
What core goals have you established for the Enterprise Resilience initiative?
Getting ever closer to the business units, knowing what events they are concerned about, how to prevent them, and how to respond if they occur. Also, making sure everyone in the company understands the program and why it is important.
We like to start with helping people prepare themselves personally for events that could affect them at home, then it is easier for them to relate to the business needs and actions. Most importantly, it is key that we are able to respond appropriately in a timely manner.
Of those goals, which do you consider short-term vs longer-term objectives?
Our goal, in general, is to make sure all the necessary plans are in place to protect people and property and to keep the business processes flowing. We practice continuous improvement as a key element of our program.
Can you tell me more about OneAmerica?
A national leader in the insurance and financial services marketplace for 140 years, the companies of OneAmerica help customers build and protect their financial futures.
OneAmerica offers a variety of products and services to serve the financial needs of their policyholders and customers. These products include retirement plan products and record-keeping services, individual life insurance, annuities, asset-based long-term care solutions and employee benefit plan products. Products are issued and underwritten bythe companies of OneAmerica and distributed through a nationwide network of employees, agents, brokers and other sources who are committed to providing value to our customers. To learn more about our products, services and the companies of OneAmerica, visit oneamerica.com/about-us/companies-of-oneamerica.
For the record, can we get your official title and current certifications?
I had a wonderful time catching up with Jeff. In his new role, I am certain he will provide wonderful services to OneAmerica, their family of products, and customers.
Have a really great day!