Meet the speakers at this year’s Continuity Insights Management Conference, then click here to learn more about the 2023 event.
Business Recovery Managers Association
How did your career choices lead to where I am now?
Looking back on my career, it seems to me that everything, good or bad, lead me to this moment in time. I ended up being a continuity professional because while I passed the written exam and a good portion of the obstacle course, I couldn’t get over the 5-foot wall required by the Portland Police Department to become a Police Officer. During college I had been led to believe that the most amazing job opportunities would await upon graduation. As it turned out, I ended up opening new accounts at a bank. I was very frustrated and decided to try out for the police department. Since that didn’t work out, I saw a job posting for a Contingency Planning Analyst. I applied and got the job, and the rest they say is history.
What career mistake has given you the best lesson?
The biggest mistake I have made in my career isn’t really a mistake as opposed to a time when I didn’t act. When faced with challenges, I tend to persevere, believe that I am completely responsible my circumstance, and I must manage my way out of a situation. When in fact, I could have taken a more assertive position, spoke truth to power, and I would have had a completely different outcome. That is the road not taken. I no longer operate this way.
What was your first “win” that made you confident that you were doing the right thing?
My first win that confirmed that I had the skills to work in the continuity space, was after my role as a Contingency Planning Analyst at US Bank. I was promoted to Assistant Vice President at age 25. My boss wanted to promote me to Vice President, but I was worried that I would alienate my colleagues that didn’t report to me but were part of the cross functional teams I managed for disaster recovery, some had been at the bank for many years. So, I suggested the lesser title.
What was the best career advice you’ve ever received?
At my first job as a Contingency Planning Analyst, I had the fortune to work for an amazing boss, Wally Fisher, who was a VP at US Bank and he taught me so much. My role was one of developing, managing, and testing disaster recovery plans. I managed cross functional teams in the planning and execution of the tests. He taught me about managing people. My favorite nuggets were:
- Managers do very little for employees, one of the most important things a manager does is performance management, recognizing and rewarding good performance. Always do performance reviews on time, with care and consideration.
- Loyalty is a function of appreciation expressed. This means if you want loyalty from colleagues, you must communicate your appreciation for their efforts and contributions.
These two items have differentiated me in all the management roles I’ve held including executive roles such as VP. I have made it a point to complete management reviews on time with thoughtful and accurate details relaying employee contributions. And I have made it a point to thank people. In situations where there were no funds for material forms of appreciation, I would simply write an old fashioned thank you note. People do not get thanked enough. And I found my colleagues would post the thank you notes on the walls of their cubicles. By following Wally’s advice, I have built high performing teams, who are engaged and happy in their work.
To learn more about Tonya’s session and to view the full conference agenda, click here.