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Continuity Insights Management Conference: Meet Andrea Houtkin

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Meet the speakers at this year’s Continuity Insights Management Conference, then click here to learn more about the 2023 event.

Andrea Houtkin
Houtkin Consulting, Inc.

When did you know you wanted this job?

After the first disaster that I experienced at work, feet on the ground.

How did your earlier career choices lead you to where you are now? 

They didn’t.  I had a masters in medieval and renaissance music.  On my first technical job that I took to fund a film music career became an epiphany and I was hooked on technology

What career mistake has given you the biggest lesson?

I make mistakes every day – no matter how much experience I have because every situation has its own nuance that must be taken into consideration when creating safety, security, and disaster recovery processes and procedures.

What research did you do to prepare for this role?

None.  There wasn’t an industry at that time.  We created/performed process based on the company we were working in.

What was your first “win” that made you confident that you were doing the right thing?

  • Assurance the safety of 5 Colleagues stuck in a building for 5 days in London after an IRA bomb blew off the glass in the front of the building;
  • When I started creating and performing data center to data center switch/failover testing – practicing to the point where there were no major issues and hitting our RTO and RPO.  Thats when I realized I had a nack for this work.

How do you avoid being complacent in your role?

I am responsible for the ability of a business to continue or recover after a major incident.  I take that seriously. As well, the safety and well-being of those who I am responsible to.

What is the biggest risk that you’ve taken

  • Making assumptions that could have resulted in non-preparedness in facing the worst case.
  • We take risks everyday by the decisions we have to make.

What did you do at work yesterday?

  • Daily review of global issues and determining risk that could result in a disaster event.
  • Prep for business continuity and disaster recovery meetings for the day
  • Continued documentation for the disaster recovery plan including schematics
  • Creation of various presentations for Audit, Management, Senior Management
  • Daily review and revision of the dc to dc switch/failover process as it is a large document and it requires processes and procedures of the full stack
  • Planning for DR implementation and other RHELOS-related projects that I am managing
  • Checking work tickets for status and performing follow-up
  • Constant identification of action items and their status to complete the DR site or other technical requirements
  • Study/research of certain technical subjects
  • Prep and performance of weekly DR component testing and end-2-end process testing.
  • Researching safety processes and procedures for staff in global facilities

How did you set yourself apart from others who wanted the same job?

  • I have over 27 years experience preparing and responding to events that impacts both the business and
  • I have experienced over 15 incidents, feet on the ground where we had to figure it out as we went along
  • Creating solutions for continuity and recovery where there were none.
  • Understanding business and technical processes and procedures.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

There is a little bit of good in everyone you meet.  Find it.

What advice would you give to your younger self at the start of your career?

Study hard, be pleasant and learn about the psychological issues of experiencing a disaster.

What impresses you the most when you are considering hiring someone?

How realistic they are and how they are able to solve problems.  There is no cookie cutter solutions in dr – they are created by the environment

How do you, your team or company define success?

  • Completing all industry-required business continuity documentation and its approval by the business
  • Completing all industry-required disaster recovery documentation and its approval by tech teams and DR Teams
  • Good process that repeatedly works
  • Quality testing to visualize the solution both horizontally and vertically

What is the biggest challenge to achieving that success?

  • Being consistent in an ever-changing environment
  • Being humble
  • Being aware of everything going around you: market/terrorism/nature/weather and internal activities that could impact the health and welfare of the company and our related continuity and recovery processes and procedures.

To learn more about Andrea’s session and to view the full conference agenda, click here.

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