A day in Hong Kong
18th October 2016
6am: Working in crisis management for the last twenty-five years means that planning ahead is part of my DNA. So when I wake up at 6am in my Hong Kong hotel I know that the gentle butterflies in my stomach are not a sign that I am unprepared, but simply show that I care. I’d be more worried if they weren’t there!
The hotel rainfall shower ensures that I’m wide awake and I’m soon in a taxi dodging the early morning traffic making my way towards the Central business district.
7.30am: I arrive at the client’s office and the sights, sounds and smells of Hong Kong hit me. Even at this early hour the city is alive, full of energy and movement. I head up to the 27th floor where my client greets me. Today we are running a half-day cyber simulation for their senior management team and I have an hour to get everything ready. Realism and attention to detail are essential in a simulation so I make final checks to ensure that the materials – social media feeds, broadcast footage, mock emails and so on – are exactly as expected (though as a crisis manager, I have put in place contingencies in case the technology fails me!).
8.30am: The client team from across the region assembles. They quickly engage with the exercise and make decisions about how they will respond to the challenges unfolding before them. Cyber crime is an issue for many clients and this organisation wants to avoid being caught on the hop should the worst occur.
11.30am: The exercise is complete and we’re into the most important part of all, the de-brief. The real value of an exercise is in the learnings it reveals, allowing the client to improve its reputational resilience.
1pm: I’m back in a taxi taking me away from the frenetic activity of the Central district and 1,800 feet up to the Peak. From the top, I look down on the city and sea beyond. The sun is out and the beautiful vista is a stark contrast with the ground level view. My afternoon session is with a client that endured a major incident earlier this year. They asked us to facilitate this session to draw out learnings from their experience so they could prevent or respond even more effectively to any future event. Too many organisations fail to take this critical step.
Instead, they simply breathe a sigh of relief when a crisis ends and, without a pause, get back to business as usual. Unfortunately, ‘business as usual’ may have caused the crisis in the first place:without a proper review they’ll never know.
6pm: I’m back at the hotel and looking forward to a pleasant dinner and overnight stay before heading home in the morning. However, local TV news is reporting that Typhoon Meranti, one of the most intense tropical cyclones on record, is heading towards Hong Kong and may arrive by dawn.
Decision-making is a critical part of crisis management and I decide that my time in Hong Kong is up. I switch to an earlier flight and by midnight I’m 30,000 feet up and on my way back to the UK, potential crisis averted.
Article written by Jonathan Hemus, managing director of crisis-management agency Insignia