Meet The Tutor – James McAlister

18 Sep 2023

Welcome to our new series, ‘Meet the Tutor’. To begin this exciting new series, we are opening with our tutor James McAlister. James delivers a large portion of our live online courses, in particular our sought after CBCI Certification Course.

“Hello, I am James McAlister. I am the owner of an organisational resilience company called Crisis Prepared Limited. I have been a trainer for BC Training for eight years.”

What interested you to get into the world of BC?

“I was a police officer for thirty years, so you could say I have been working in the wider resilience world since 1984. During my career, I worked in some of the most exciting areas of policing specialising in public order, firearms, counter terrorism, emergency planning and business continuity.”

What was your first job in BC?

“I was seconded to the Association of Chief Police Officers in 2004 preparing for the release of the UK Civil Contingencies Act which requires organisations with emergency functions to conduct business continuity planning. I spent two years developing the BC doctrine which is still in use in the UK police service today.”

How many years have you worked in this industry?

“Its either almost 40 years if you include what I did to ensure we could respond to incidents and emergencies before business continuity was defined as a term or almost 20 years if you don’t.”

How did you get into your tutor role at BC Training?

“I am a very active member of the Business Continuity Institute since joining in 2007 and have had volunteer roles such as UK Northwest Region BC Forum Chair, Global Membership Council Chair, Vice Chair and in 2016 Chair of the institute. I have spoken at every BCI conference since 2009 and contributed to numerous Good Practice Guidance updates, research papers, webinars, videos etc and because of that experience, BC Training asked me to join their training team. I think it also helped that I am a fully qualified higher education teacher, coach, and assessor.”

Have you attended any big events since entering the world of BC?

“It depends on what you mean by events. If you mean incidents, I have responded as operations lead to some of the globes most catastrophic emergencies including one of the world’s deadliest earthquakes and the most powerful typhoon to ever hit the earth. If you meant conferences then I have been luckier, by having spoken at many great events including my favourite BCI World and conferences in Qatar, South Africa, and Hong Kong.”

Have you won any awards?

“I have been very fortunate over the past few years to win a number of resilience awards from organisations including the Association of Chief Police Officers, BCI, Continuity Insurance and Risk, Corporate Vision, ACQ and Acquisition International.”

What are your hobbies? / Do you have any hobbies?

“I have two very beautiful daughters with an age gap of twenty-two years. The eldest has flown the nest, however the youngest occupies huge amounts of my spare time taking her to swimming, dancing, brownies etc. My wife is a yoga teacher who tests all her new routines on me. To keep fit, I cycle every other day on a Concept 2 bikeerg and I am ashamed to say that I love gardening.”

What do you think are the positives and negatives of working in BC?

“When I moved from specialist firearms operations into business continuity many people asked me whether I had gone mad. As some people’s perception of BC is that it’s boring. However, it’s the most fascinating discipline I have worked in. You get to meet brilliant people and see things that you would never normally see. You get the opportunity to work at all levels of the organisation and get involved in discussions well above your paid grade. You can really make a difference for your organisation, employees, and customers. I generally haven’t found many negatives as it’s our job to turn resistance or lack of budget or resources into positives by influencing key people and thinking creatively.”

What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career in BC?

“It’s a great career if you are the right type of person. If you are timid or your ‘get up and go’ has ‘got up and gone’ then don’t  bother. You need boundless energy and enthusiasm coupled with huge amounts of tenacity and creativity. It helps if you are personable and diplomatic, but you’ve also got to have courage at times to fight for what you believe in. If you have these attributes, then BC is going to be a rewarding career as its exciting and can be well paid.”

If you were a delegate, which BC Training course would you enrol onto, and why?

“There are too many brilliant courses to choose just one, but I will give you my favourite three in no order. The CBCI Course is brilliant as it gives the participant a solid grounding in all things BC. Even for experienced BC Managers the course challenges their current beliefs and opens opportunities for wider professional growth. The Incident Response and Crisis Management Course is a great course especially if the participant hasn’t been involved in a serious incident before. The purpose of building a BC Management System is to be able to effectively respond when the ‘big one’ happens and this course prepares the participant and therefore their organisation for that fateful day. The final course on my ‘wish list’ is the Designing and Delivering Effective Exercises. Exercising done properly is hard, as it puts a huge amount of pressure on the designer / facilitator to get everything just right. The course teaches the participant how to develop and conduct their own well crafted, intelligent and stimulating exercises.”