Chief Security Officer at Everbridge Tracy Reinhold lives and breathes security. In his role with the company, a critical event management software-as-a-service solution supporting more than 550 million people worldwide, he is responsible for advancing Everbridge’s enterprise-level security strategy.
Reinhold collaborates with Everbridge’s customers and partners to ensure they are optimizing their organizational approach to managing and responding to critical events—be they natural disasters, pandemics, terrorist attacks, or any other unexpected disruptions to daily operations. His experiences, which range from executive leadership in security management with Fannie Mae and Walmart to 22 years as a Special Agent with the FBI, have primed him for his expertise carrying out his current responsibilities.
On July 23, he’ll be serving as a panelist for a webinar on “Organizational Resilience in an Uncertain World,” hosted by UVA McIntire’s Center for Business Analytics and Center for Management of Information Technology. We spoke to Reinhold about the subject and how his history of handling disruption has prepared him for the ambiguous future we face today.
In assisting Everbridge’s customers to respond to critical events, he notes that one of the most significant challenges concerns the ability of the crisis team’s ability to articulate value to the core business.
“Oftentimes, resilience and security are seen as things that an organization must have to meet a compliance need, and the true value is not recognized by leadership,” Reinhold says. He explains that the lack of understanding is often due to a lack of effective communication, wherein security and resilience professionals have difficulty relating what they do to ensure sustainability and daily operations.
The second most crucial issue stems from technology, or rather, what he calls “the underutilization of technology in addressing both security and resilience needs.” Reinhold says that relying on outdated models and manual processes that could be automated fail to meet the rigorous demands of an ever-changing business landscape, something that became particularly obvious since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Back in late March, when we spoke with Everbridge CEO David Meredith (M.S. in MIT ’03), he mentioned that companies were relying on Everbridge’s systems to reduce risk from the pandemic for traveling employees and to monitor disruptions to their supply chain. Since coronavirus has become a longer-term health risk rather than a passing “critical event,” Reinhold says that Everbridge now provides an effective platform for addressing the risks and concerns for organizations with personnel stationed out of the office.
“Duty of care obligations have taken on a whole new significance since the vast majority of the workforce is working remotely. The ability of organizations to communicate effectively with their employees while working remotely is critical, and Everbridge allows them to do that and to be aware of existing or emerging threats in real time,” he says.
As a result, his organization prepares security teams across the planet to safeguard their fellow employees who are working from remote locations.
Security by Design
As CSO for Fannie Mae, Reinhold created and managed its enterprise resilience strategy. He insists that it’s important to be a student of the business at any organization to understand its leadership’s priorities, knowing what aspects are necessary for proper operations to function, and then knowing the order in which things must be recovered.
“I found it very helpful to develop executive champions in the company who provided both visibility and credibility to the resilience program. They could champion the process with the board of directors, influence key stakeholders in the company, and provide the executive presence needed to ensure the program was a success.”
He says that success at Fannie Mae was measured by being able to rely on a sustainable program that addressed the firm’s critical capabilities as defined by the leaders in each area of the company. Also of importance to determining success: recovery time.
“Normal metrics were also employed relative to how much time we could shave off of a business disruption,” he says.
Serving as an FBI Special Agent for more than two decades clearly provided Reinhold with experiences that informed his approach to security strategy, offering the space to learn and practice methods of organizational resilience. Yet despite the tactical lessons one might expect to discover, he says that one of the most important lessons he carried with him concerns remaining calm in the face of a crisis.
“If an organization is looking to you for leadership during a business disruption, feeding into the crisis by being disorganized or overwhelmed will result in panic throughout the organization, followed by bad decisions.” Reinhold says emotionally charged choices can be avoided if everyone is properly prepared by holding realistic exercises on a regular basis.
“Involve senior leadership in the exercises—as well as the line folks who will manage the multitude of actions required during the crisis. Additionally, designing an approach that is threat or risk agnostic is critical. This step will allow the team to respond in a calm professional manner that assures leadership that the crisis is being well managed.”
He believes that individuals at any level can help their organization during critical events, as Reinhold says that resilience and security are the business of all employees. He adds that those processes can be enhanced by having all staff members expand their knowledge to range beyond their specific roles and responsibilities to be mindful of the essential business operations that protect the survival and success of the firm.
By learning about the most crucial operations, he says, employees, “are better able to understand the impact of specific actions or risks and develop mitigations strategies to assist the company during times of disruption.”
Interested in more insights about security strategy? Register for “Organizational Resilience in an Uncertain World.”