July 28, 2022
Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director, Resilience and Response, White House National Security Council
Managing Director, Public Sector, Marsh McLennan
President, McChrystal Group
Natural disasters across the nation, ongoing geopolitical conflicts in Europe, and a global supply chain crisis have made readiness and emergency management pressing subjects for leaders throughout the public and private sectors.
During Day 1 of the 11th Annual Building Resilience Through Private-Public Partnerships Conference, panelists Caitlin Durkovich, Senior Director of Resilience and Response at The White House, and Daniel Kaniewski, Managing Director of Public Sector at Marsh McLennan, joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to discuss how public and private sector leaders can help build national resilience through a commitment to readiness.
Private Sector Leadership Will Play a Key Role in Building Resilience
When asked about the path toward improved resilience, the panelists emphasized the need for private sector leaders to invest in reducing future disaster costs.
“If we expect the government alone to solve this resilience problem, [or] if we expect the government alone to reduce all future disaster losses, then we’re kidding ourselves,” Kaniewski said. “The next step … is not about state and local governments — especially emergency management agencies — acknowledging resilience. It’s about how the private sector and the public sector can work together to further enhance resilience.”
“In the private sector, the last two or three years have helped organizations realize that they need to put more money into building resilience,” added Durkovich. “They need to make investments. They need to take business continuity seriously.”
Effective Emergency Management Demands Ongoing Preparation
Organizations seeking to optimize their emergency management must integrate disaster readiness into their daily operational planning.
“There is a lot of opportunity to test and exercise on a regular basis,” Durkovich said. “The notion that we do these big exercises annually or quarterly has not been adjusted for the reality of the world that we live in.”
Durkovich added that the United States federal government is shifting toward a model where conversations about resilience and preparedness are integrated into daily operational planning.
“You’re not going to have advanced warning,” she explained. “Something could happen at any time and you have to continually be assessing the environment.”
Kaniewski underscored the importance of this ongoing readiness.
“If the last three years have taught us anything, [it’s that] what we’re planning for doesn’t really happen,” he said. “The more we prepare ourselves for it and have conversations about it, the better prepared we’ll be to respond.”
Leaders Must Take Collective Action to Build a Culture of Resilience
While both private and public sector leaders have gradually begun to adopt a more anticipatory approach to emergency management, building resilience will require greater readiness and cooperation in the future.
“I think that the events of the last two and a half years have certainly opened the eyes of the industry to the need to anticipate,” Durkovich said. “But I don’t think that has been sufficiently institutionalized.”
Kaniewski also cited the events of the last few years as evidence of the need for leadership to collectively commit to resilience.
“The pandemic has solidified that resilience should remain a priority,” he said. “Resilience needs to be our North Star. How and when we achieve that will be different for all of us … but if we share that goal of resilience, that will keep us on the right trajectory.”
“It’s going to be a long road to resilience, but that’s a journey worth taking,” Kaniewski added.