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Memories of a business continuity pioneer

By Paul Kirvan, FBCI.

In March 2014 the business continuity profession lost one of its founding fathers, Ron Ginn, (Hon) FBCI. Although Ron was in his 80s he lived a vigorous life and never lost his passion for the profession he helped create. For a fitting tribute to Ron’s memory, I have compiled thoughts and remembrances from several of Ron’s friends and colleagues, including myself.

As one of the few ‘foreigners’ in the early days of the business continuity profession in the UK and Europe, I became involved in an organization many of you will remember, called Survive! This was instrumental in the growth of the profession in Europe and North America and also in the founding of the Business Continuity Institute. During my many trips to the UK I had the pleasure of meeting Ron Ginn on several occasions. Ron was one of my early mentors and inspirations for my continued involvement in the profession. His enthusiasm was infectious; he really understood the direction that the profession needed to go and was a constant source of encouragement and challenge for all of us who were there in the ‘early days’. I last spoke to Ron during the 2012 BCI World Conference in London, and even in his 80s, Ron was still challenging me to do more in the profession. He was a true inspiration to me, and will be greatly missed.

Let’s move on to comments from some other folks who were inspired by Ron Ginn. First is Lyndon Bird, FBCI, a founding Fellow of the BCI, former BCI Chairman and Board member, and currently the BCI’s Technical Director and a member of the Board:

“Although many people will be thankful to Ron for his help and guidance over many years, I am probably the only BCI member who can thank (or blame) Ron entirely for my involvement in the business continuity world at all. When we were both ex-pat Brits living in The Netherlands he called me up one Sunday afternoon in 1985 to see if I would be interested in helping him set up a company to do consultancy in what he called ‘continuity planning’.

“I told him ‘no’ but wished him well. However Ron was never an easy man to dissuade from a course of action that he had set his mind on and by the following spring I had become interested in the potential for such a business opportunity, so I joined him to set up what we believed was the first such specialist company in Europe.

“Our formal business relationship only lasted a couple of years but we always remained friends and I was delighted to attend his wedding to Marianne, who I also knew well, in 1990. For me Ron was and always will be the man who totally changed the past three decades of my life. I will miss him enormously.”

Next is Jim Burtles, (Hon) FBCI, a founding fellow of the BCI, former member of the BCI Board and currently serving on the BCI’s Risk and Governance Committee:

“When I first met Ron Ginn, back in the early 1980s, we were both keen advocates of some interesting concepts which we had both stumbled across. At the time there was no common language or even a name for whatever it was we were pioneering. We immediately became close friends; it was a meeting of minds and souls. We shared lots of common interests and beliefs. Whenever I think of Ron I can’t help but use the word ‘we’ because a lot of me is rooted in what he gave me, taught me or showed me. He was a natural born leader who everybody turned to for advice, guidance and direction.

“Despite his obvious leadership qualities Ron always did a great deal of useful work behind the scenes; developing guidelines, preparing standards, compiling glossaries, setting down codes of conduct, devising specifications and drafting regulations.

“Ron arranged for me to meet up with his mentor, the legendary Norm Harris; the man who put together the first ever disaster recovery plan back in 1974.

“In the late 1980s, Ron published a book on ‘Continuity Planning’, which soon led to the adoption of the term ‘business continuity’ around the world. Over the next five years we worked together with Andrew Hiles and the recently created Survive! networking organization to establish proper recognition for members of this emerging profession. This led to the eventual creation of the Business Continuity Institute in 1994.”

Andrew Hiles, (Hon) FBCI, is a founding Fellow of the BCI, first Chairman of the BCI, and was the founder and Chairman of Survive!:

“Over more than 25 years Ron was a constant source of friendship, advice and ideas. Ron was among the first to join and participate in Survive! – the UK-based international business continuity user group I set up in 1987. Ron was a keen supporter of the Survive! professional certification group, started in 1993, which promoted standards and independent certification. It was from this group that the BCI was launched, with Ron taking over from me as the first elected chairman of the newly independent Institute in 1994.

“Ron remained a firm supporter of the user group, which continued to expand and it was partly through Ron's support and introductions that Survive! created a European presence and expanded globally to include North America, Australasia and Africa. Ron wrote one of the earliest books on continuity planning and despite the many changes since then, its principles still remain valid. Ron was too modest to dwell on his many charitable activities, for which he was awarded the Chivalric order of Chevalier. He will be missed in many places, by many people.”

Steve Yates, FBCI, is a founding Fellow of the BCI, member of the BCI Global Membership Council, and also the founder of the BANG professional business continuity group:

“My earliest recollection of Ron Ginn was at a Survive! meeting in 1990, the year after he had published his book on Continuity Planning which set the basis for what we now know as business continuity. As a member of the Survive! Special Interest Group (SIG), I was fortunate enough to have worked with Ron during a collaboration with the Disaster Recovery Institute (DRI), an activity that with his guidance led to the publication of our first set of industry standards.

“Those original ten ‘Standards of Competence’ defined the skills that formed the basis for evaluating the capability of a business continuity practitioner, which set the stage for the foundation of the Business Continuity Institute in 1994.

“Now in 2014, some 20 years later, we have lost one of the founding fathers and most respected figures in our profession. We should therefore look forward and say, “Well done, Ron, you will not be forgotten.”

About the author:

Paul Kirvan, FBCI is a founding USA member of the BCI, former member of the BCI Board, founding Board member and Secretary of the BCI USA chapter, and currently Vice Chair of the BCI Global Membership Council.

•Date: 27th March 2014 • UK/World •Type: Article • Topic: BC general

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