#130: Health, Safety, Intelligence & the Role of the Chief Security Officer – International SOS Sally Llewellyn, Kelly Johnstone & Dr. Mark Fischer

Wednesday December 06, 2023

The security challenges we face today are more complex, less predictable and faster evolving than at any point in recent history. When Fran Racioppi isn’t hosting the Jedburgh Podcast he runs FRsix, his security company. From this year’s industry trade show, Global Security Exchange, Fran sat down with International SOS, the global leader in health and security services, to dig deep on today’s biggest threats. International SOS cares for over 9000 organizations in 1000 locations across 90 countries. They field over 11,000 calls for assistance each day. 

Sally Llewellyn is the global security Director of information and Analysis. Kelly Johnstone served as the Chief Security Officer at Coca Cola. Dr. Mark Fischer is the Regional Medical Director for the Americas. They explain why intelligence is so important in the decision making process for executives of any organization.

They define Duty of Care and how it’s evolved as we’ve transitioned from workplace to remote work. They also explain the importance of developing networks of influence, whether that be for intelligence to understand what’s happening, or medical support to help people in their time of need. Finally, they break down the roles of the Chief Security officer and analysts and how the information they provide to decision makers is critical for the resiliency of an organization.

The world is evolving faster than ever seems to change on a minute-by-minute basis. Our job as leaders is to understand what’s happening out there, how it affects our people and our business, and then make decisions and bring in the resources that keep us successful, no matter the challenge.

Protection of our people starts with us as leaders. Take the first step today. Learn more on The Jedburgh Podcast Website. Subscribe to us and follow @jedburghpodcast on all social media. Watch the full video version on YouTube

Listen to the podcast here


Health, Safety, Intelligence & the Role of the Chief Security Officer – International SOS Sally Llewellyn, Kelly Johnstone & Dr. Mark Fischer

Kelly, Sally, and Mark, welcome to The Jedburgh Podcast.International SOS Kelly Johnstone, Sally Llewellyn, Dr. Mark Fischer join Fran Racioppi from GSX.

We’re glad to be here.

We’re back in the International SOS booth. I posted on Instagram, which is hard for me because I don’t get social media that often. I’m going to bring that up with you, specifically Sally, about social media. This is our second year up. We’re at GSX. Last year, we were in Atlanta. This year, we’re here in Dallas. The show is way busier and way bigger than it was last year. I’m excited for the opportunity to come back into the International SOS booth to talk about the value that the organization is bringing to a world that has changed in the last few years.

We’re all security professionals. We all talk about the evolving risks and threats. As we come off of this twenty-plus year of the global war on terror, where our focus was so much on certain regions of the world in the last eighteen months, we have seen threats emerge that we haven’t seen or thought of. I’ll put it that way because they’ve always been there. Now, they take the front page above the fold line in all of our newspapers and news every day.

I want to get into it with each one of you because we’re going to talk about medical, intel, and your experience, Kelly, leading a global organization, and how you tie all these things together. We have to start with each one of you. Kelly, let’s start with you. You joined International SOS about a year-plus ago and came off a twenty-plus-year career at Coca-Cola, where you were the Chief Security Officer. I’m envious. It’s an incredible organization. Prior to that, you served as a special agent in a variety of different organizations, including the FDA, Customs and Border Patrol, and NCIS. Talk about that trajectory for a couple of minutes. Why security and how cool was it to be the CSO of Coca-Cola?

Security was something that I didn’t choose. It almost chose me because I was going to be a lawyer. I wasn’t ready to go to law school. I took a little break. My dad was in the Navy. We lived on a military base. I walked down to the NCIS office and said, “I want to be an agent.” They’re like, “Why would we hire you? You’re just going to have a baby in a couple of years.” I’m like, “I swear. I’m not going to have a baby in a couple of years. Hire me.” They did.

Every time I thought about going to law school, I thought about giving up this career in law enforcement that I loved. I transitioned to other agencies. I went from foreign counterintelligence. I got into drugs and did the border drugs with customs. That was great. I went to the FDA and did more doctors and pharmaceuticals.

I met the Coca-Cola company doing a case for them. I had a relationship with them. When I was ready to leave the government, I went to work for them. I was with them for twenty years and eventually became the Chief Security Officer. It is probably the best company that is out there. I haven’t worked for a lot of them, but since I’ve retired, I’ve had some involvement with other companies.

It reinforced how I feel about that company. It’s a huge company. We’re in over 200 countries. There’s a lot going on, much to what you were saying about the threat. With the threats we’re looking at today, there are some similar ones, but there are other things that are more difficult to predict, which makes it even harder. The job was time-consuming but great.International SOS Kelly Johnstone, Sally Llewellyn, Dr. Mark Fischer join Fran Racioppi from GSX.

There are real decisions that you have to make. Those decisions as the Chief Security Officer, as an executive in any organization, but especially a company that’s in 200 places across the world, they’re dynamic and different in every region of the world, which is why I want to get into intel. Sally, you are leading the Intel Division here at the International SOS. You come from a background of intelligence as an intelligence officer in the Australian military. Talk for a minute about the importance of intel. Why is it such a tool critical for decision-makers in and out of the security organization to understand what’s going on where they have people? Why did you get into it?

If I start with why I got into it, the reason I started all of this was I wanted someone to pay me to travel. That was my goal in life. When I went up through university, it was like, “What am I going to do that is going to get me out there in the world?” I have 100% achieved that mission.

You’re also living in Dubai.

Along the way, I joined the Department of Defense in Australia. They put us rapidly through intelligence testing to find out, “Do you have the skillset to help solve complex problems and provide advice to leaders around how to make great decisions to keep their people safe?” I passed those tests. That was the beginning of my career.

I have the opportunity to do that at International SOS. My team’s goal is to quickly, as fast as we can, understand what’s going on in the world, share that information with our clients, and share advice around actions that they can take to keep their people safe, but also to keep their operations going at complex paces around the world.

We are a fantastic business enabler, as well as helping to manage risk. My team does that on a 24/7 basis, trying to understand what’s going on in the world, what might happen next, what the next 12 or 24 hours look like, and what the week ahead looks like to try and inform good decision-making. That’s the goal.International SOS Kelly Johnstone, Sally Llewellyn, Dr. Mark Fischer join Fran Racioppi from GSX.

When we look at the intel picture, we have to talk about the effect of the medical situation on our people all across the world. Dr. Mark Fischer, you lead the Americas here with the medical response capability for International SOS. Talk about the importance of understanding medical capability all across the world, wherever we have people. I want to get into why you joined International SOS. How do we develop a competent network of providers in many regions of the world, many of which we don’t know much about?

First, thanks for having us here. It’s wonderful to be with my colleagues here. Being at GSX security focus, I’m the token physician here. What I think it stresses is the incredible importance and interdependencies that medical and security have. Where there’s a medical case, there’s often security and vice versa. What Sally mentioned before about enabling companies to protect organizations and people is the key and goal here. Getting that intelligence helps formulate mitigating risk. We also know that mitigating risk doesn’t eliminate risk.International SOS Kelly Johnstone, Sally Llewellyn, Dr. Mark Fischer join Fran Racioppi from GSX.

Having that network of providers to understand what is going on locally, we’re a global company with many of the people that we represent traveling around the world, or they have organizations or companies that are in different locations. It’s important to understand those risks when we’re providing advice.

My role as the Regional Medical Director of Assistance within the Americas is to say from a physician’s side or with that lens, how does that care look around the world? The intelligence that’s important about whether it’s hurricanes that are coming up the coast, which may absolutely destroy hospitals within the Caribbean. What did the hospitals look like before? What does it look like now to the infectious diseases that may come? All that stuff comes in. We collate the information and collect it and say, “How are we able to protect our people?”

There’s a term that we use called duty of care. I use it a lot in medical. Kelly, you hear that a lot at the senior level leadership within organizations. Can you define the duty of care? Why is that such an important concept for us to understand when we build and run organizations?

There are different definitions.

I’m going to ask everybody here. You’re just first.

In my perspective, it’s doing the right thing, but that can be construed in different ways. It’s also understanding what the foreseeable risk is. Understanding what the foreseeable risk is to have that intelligence to say, “These are the things that we can expect going into a certain country or understanding with my organization. What can we do to mitigate that? This, from my perspective, is the duty of care. There is a whole range of we are doing everything in our power to protect our employees when they’re traveling, or they’re at home. Different people have different risk tolerances, but it’s understanding what those foreseeable risks are and doing the right thing.

When I think about the duty of care, it’s more of a legal definition for us. What the company’s obligation is to protect people from a foreseeable risk. Sometimes, people think you should be protecting them from an unforeseeable risk, and therein lies the interpretation. When I think about duty of care these days, I think about the way duty of care has changed since COVID.

[bctt tweet=”Duty of care is the company’s obligation to protect people from a foreseeable risk.” username=”talentwargroup”]

Duty of care prior to COVID was what happens inside your building and walls and if you’re on travel. Now with the workplace, boundaries going away, and people working from home in London in an Airbnb, the duty of care has expanded and it’s murkier. If you’re on a conference call in your car, do I have a duty of care if you get in a car wreck? If you’re at your house and you fall down the stairs, is that my duty of care responsibility because you have a home office now that you’re working three days a week? Duty of care has gotten muddy, murky, and more interpretive. People are trying to figure out what it means for us.International SOS Kelly Johnstone, Sally Llewellyn, Dr. Mark Fischer join Fran Racioppi from GSX.

Is there an answer? Have we found the answer?

No, but you err on the side of caution. More is better than less. If you say, “That’s not my duty of care,” it’s opening up our responsibility to do more to protect more people in different ways. To your point, everything is different and it’s just more.

It’s an incredible challenge because you talk about being in 200 countries. I think about my time at Snap, where we were in 26 cities and 19 countries, and you’ve got 4,000 or 5,000 employees. Am I now responsible for all of those offices, all of their travel, and 4,000 homes?

You are. If something happens and they feel that you were responsible and they can prove it in court, there’s your ultimate test of whether you were responsible. Let’s not get there. Let’s do the right thing on the front end so we don’t have to prove in court whether we should have been responsible or not. You look at things differently now than you used to, much more holistically.

Are we talking about writing policies and giving guidance for the workday at your house?

Yes. There are a lot of things like looking at HR policies and different policies that had to change since COVID because of the way we’re working now.

Sally, what’s your definition of duty of care?

It’s an interesting one. Every leader out there says their people are the most important thing. Without them, they cannot achieve any outcome in their business.

Special operations truth number one, people are more important than hardware.

Everyone has to have their employees performing at their best at all times to achieve their outcomes. Duty of care, for me, is the actual piece behind that grandiose statement at the top. You care about your people, their health, well-being, and safety, wherever they are, wherever you’re asking them to operate all around the world. I agree with Kelly and with Mark. It’s becoming even more complicated. The expectations of employees post-COVID have changed. The type of employees and the diversity of the employee population in organizations, LGBTQ+ is the most at-risk group of people that any organization employs.


That’s the nature of living in that community, certain places around the world, and here in the US, where it is more risky to be their full selves in that environment. Employers have a duty of care to provide an understanding of the risk environment, the ability to support if something goes wrong, and confidential advice on how to manage your risk profile in any location. That is a requirement to fulfill both the moral duty of care obligation and the legal one, depending on what market you’re operating in.International SOS Kelly Johnstone, Sally Llewellyn, Dr. Mark Fischer join Fran Racioppi from GSX.

If I could give a quick example of that, you have a traveler from LGBTQ+, and they’re going to a country. There was a conversation at one of the conferences here regarding travel and where it’s illegal to be a part of that community travel. There are locations where it is completely legal but culturally, it’s not accepted.

How does that impact the traveler from a medical perspective, a security perspective, and a mental well-being perspective? That’s understanding the information before you go into the foreseeable risk. What are you going to do about it if something happens? Is there 24/7 assistance to be able to provide guidance, having a person navigate that situation and make sure that there’s help regardless if they want to provide consent to the company or not? Those are the key things, and doing the right thing, that duty of care has evolved, but it’s something that you need to think about.

There’s also educating about it. We have to start with the fact that we need our employees. We need our leaders first in our organizations to say, “We have to proactively think about these things.” We need our employees to say, “Is this something I’m comfortable doing, understanding the risk?” Do they even know the risk? There’s a whole education piece around this.

One other piece is the confidentiality piece. Someone said, “In my organization, there are four in the LGBTQ+ community.” There’s probably way more, but you just don’t know about them. You’re traveling. You get into trouble, but no one even knows. You don’t want to out yourself. What do you do? Those are solutions that have to be offered. International SOS does have a solution, which is great, but a lot of companies don’t have solutions for that scenario.International SOS Kelly Johnstone, Sally Llewellyn, Dr. Mark Fischer join Fran Racioppi from GSX.

The tagline of the podcast is how you prepare today determines success tomorrow. I know you all knew that because you spent all night preparing and listening to as many episodes as possible. What I hear you each saying comes back to this idea of preparation and this thought process of what and how we need to do things proactively in order to be ready when we face you name it situation. What we’ll talk about is response versus reaction.

International SOS is an organization that’s built on response. Are we proactively thinking about all of these different things so that when it comes, we are responding, not reacting? I want to go there for a second with each of you from your own perspective. When you approach your role each day, and we’ll start with intel, How do you separate those two and move organizations into that response versus react mode?

Before I answer, one thing I would disagree with you about is you said international SOS has a response capability. I feel like International SOS spends more time planning and preparing for the response than we do responding.

I’ll give you that. That’s what I meant.

For my team, the message that I send them every day is that 99% of the time, you will figure out the problem before it becomes a problem. You will see it. That’s our job. We are required to go out there looking for the issues that are going to impact our clients but are also going to impact Mark’s team, who’s going to have to respond from a medical standpoint.

24/7, we are continuously monitoring the risk environment in which we, as an organization, are in a thousand locations around the world. There are a lot of places that we need to care about what’s happening in that environment. Our clients are operating in even more. Continuously understanding what’s happening in that risk environment, when something’s getting worse, what’s that trajectory, and what’s the trend?

[bctt tweet=”International SOS are continuously monitoring the risk environment.” username=”talentwargroup”]

My team is looking at the immediate for the next 12 to 24 hours, but I have another part of my team thinking about the next 12 to 18 months. What are the big-ticket things that are going to happen over that period of time? We traditionally know election periods are higher risk in certain places around the world. We know hurricane season is going to impact the US and the Caribbean. We know the impacts of climate change across Asia are increasing the risk to our clients.

We are informing the planning internally in International SOS. Our assistant centers are ready to respond. Our medical and security colleagues are working on what capability they are going to need on the ground in that location to be able to support them. If I think back to the Ukraine example, 6 to 12 months out from the conflict, my team was saying, “We have a problem. This is going to potentially get bad.”

We talked about it ten years ago in Special Forces.

It’s not a new problem. We looked at different scenarios as to how badly this could possibly go. We sent a team on the ground ahead of time to ensure that we had the right capability in the right locations across Ukraine. When that conflict happened, we were rapidly able to turn around and start evacuating people out of the country.

We were warning people to evacuate days before the conflict kicked off. For us, the more energy and effort we can put into the planning and preparation, the better the outcomes are for us as a business and also for our clients who are operating in those locations. My focus 24 hours a day is on how to get ahead of the next problem, which is hard to do, given the scale of the problem today.International SOS Kelly Johnstone, Sally Llewellyn, Dr. Mark Fischer join Fran Racioppi from GSX.

Hope is not a course of action. “Hopefully, we’ll figure it out when it happens” is never going to be the answer. Immediately fire leaders who tell you that. Mark, from your perspective, when we talk about the response, I asked this before in my long list of initial comments I made to you, but I’ll circle back because you didn’t answer it. I noticed. When we talk about developing and preparing this response capability from a medical standpoint, there are austere regions all over the world.

I spent two years of my career in Special Forces, working in and around Africa. There’s often not a hospital, as you mentioned. If there is, it’s not necessarily a hospital you want to go to, nor may there be a doctor you want to talk to for anything, even if it might be a small cut that could be infected. When you look across the world and you take the data that’s coming from Sally’s team to understand the threat picture, and you’re working with clients in all these regions, how are you vetting and identifying competent organizations that you can partner with to develop these capabilities?

We have a network services team, which is global. There are 26 assistant centers around the world. We leverage the expertise within those assistant centers that understand what’s going on from the hospitals, local physicians, and ground transportation, like ambulances, pharmacies, vaccines, and blood supply. All that information is brought together into a database that we’re able to review. We have over 100,000 providers, both medical security. Teams are regularly going out there to be able to vet, whether it’s a desktop or going in there and visiting the hospitals. It’s incredibly important to have a medical person walk through the hospital. What does the ICU look like? Do they have ventilators? What’s the radiology department?

Looking at it on a map and saying, “The hospital is a mile away from where we are, and checking the box is not the answer.

You look at the website, and they’ll say they have these 30 specialists, but they may be visiting once a month. They’re not there. That information is incredibly important because when I speak to the team, it’s understanding what’s going on there medically. We oftentimes can optimize the care from the onset that prevents those evacuations.

However, as you mentioned, there are some places that are incredibly austere. If there are certain significant medical conditions or trauma, we know from the onset. Let’s get them evaluated locally. What’s the closest airfield? What’s the ability to get them out, and where’s the nearest center for an upgrade in care?

We know from the onset the care is so poor that their ability to manage and treat the condition is limited. That’s what we do. We have a team. The team that I am responsible for is for the entire Americas region, where we’re regularly going and vetting that for those providers, as well as air ambulance providers and my security colleagues on the security side.International SOS Kelly Johnstone, Sally Llewellyn, Dr. Mark Fischer join Fran Racioppi from GSX.

We’re talking about it now in the context of remote areas and other countries. These things evolve and change even here in the US, and even things like economic conditions. My son, a couple of months ago, he’s three. If you have kids, you understand they don’t listen when you tell them to do certain things. We’re at dinner at a restaurant. We’re like, “Stop jumping on the chair.” Inevitably, he fell off the chair. It was one of those slow-motion ones where every drink was taken down. As he’s lying on the ground, the drinks are falling off onto him, and there’s the delayed screaming.

We go home, and I see him holding his arm. He won’t let go of his arm. He won’t use his arm. Naturally, I’m like, “It’ll be all right.” A couple of hours later, it’s still going on. I said, “I got to take him in. There are two hospitals near where we live in Connecticut. One of them is a smaller regional hospital. The other one is a level-one trauma center. It’s 11:00 at night because these things never happen in the middle of the day. I said, “If I go to the small regional hospital, they’re going to be understaffed because there’s a nursing shortage. If I go to the level-one trauma center, they’re going to be staffed.”

I was wrong because when I got home at 6:00 in the morning, there was one ER doctor at the level-one trauma center. The other hospital and I did some due diligence on this to understand if this ever happens again, they’re staffed at 95% capacity. We’re talking about North of New York City, where you would expect there to be the highest concentration of these personnel. Things like the economic impact will affect how quickly you can be seen.

My son fell off the monkey bars many years ago and had a fracture of his arm in Connecticut, and dealt with it. Imagine navigating that same situation, but now you’re in a remote area of Honduras, where we’re a far-off place in Argentina or wherever that is. The question from the security side is sometimes it’s more unsafe to go from a safety and security perspective to the hospital at night rather than saying, “Let me get information. Let’s wait until the next morning,” versus, “You need to go now.” What do you do next? Who’s placing the guarantee of payment at the hospital? Are you fit to fly? That’s like a Wednesday for us. That’s not the way we do it every single day.

Kelly, when you assess all of this at a senior leadership level, one of the primary jobs of the chief security officer is to serve as that advisor to the senior leadership team on all matters, health, safety, and security, how do you get leadership in an organization to understand that these are real factors, risks, and threats that our people face that we have to invest in, think about, staff accordingly, and resource accordingly, especially if we look at economic instability? I joke all the time. I’m in security. My wife is in marketing. The first two things that get cut in an economic downturn are security and marketing. We feel good every night.

There are a lot of parts to that answer. When I was listening to Sally and she was talking about all the things that they process on a daily basis, looking at risks, what’s going to manifest today, and what’s coming over the horizon, that’s what I have to do for the company. Look at where we are, what we’re going to do, what we’re going to sell, where we’re going to expand, and who we’re going to partner with.International SOS Kelly Johnstone, Sally Llewellyn, Dr. Mark Fischer join Fran Racioppi from GSX.

I’m looking at all that stuff and trying to figure out what’s going to cause us risk. What risk are we going to mitigate? What risk are we going to accept? What risk is intolerable? Putting together the facts in a way that my leadership can make those decisions. They can say, “For this risk, we’re going to accept. For this risk, we’re going to mitigate. Kelly, tell me how to mitigate it.” The lawyers mitigate it or finance mitigate it. Maybe it’s a different risk that’s not just a security risk, but it’s still a risk I can identify using intelligence because intelligence doesn’t serve you from a security perspective. Intelligence serves you from a business perspective. It’s a business enabler.

[bctt tweet=”Intelligence doesn’t just serve you from a security perspective. Intelligence serves you from a business perspective. It’s a business enabler. ” username=”talentwargroup”]

That’s what they’re there to do at the end of the day. This is important for people in organizations, whether they’re employees, leaders, or security professionals. Our job as security leaders is to not be an impediment to the business because that’s when we don’t get funded. We get cut out. The meeting starts and we find that there’s a meeting going on. Why wasn’t I invited? Our job there is to ensure that the environment is conducive for the business to meet its business objectives.International SOS Kelly Johnstone, Sally Llewellyn, Dr. Mark Fischer join Fran Racioppi from GSX.

You have to know what the business is. I hear many security people say, “I don’t need to know what we’re doing.” Yeah, you do because if you don’t know what’s important to the business, how the business makes money, and how the business is going to grow, you can’t protect that growth or you can’t protect what’s happening to enable that growth.

You have to look at it differently than just looking at security risks. It’s all risk to the business and using our ability to think critically, analyze large masses of information, get all these different intelligence sources, and process that in a manner that the company can make a decision, that’s what I have to do by the end of the day in these different areas.

Then you’re a value-added resource.

You’re a business enabler. You get that seat at the table because we critically think differently than other people. Don’t call me after it all gets messed up. If I’m sitting at the table, I can help.

When they do call you, you still often become that focal point to solve the problem.

There are many other problems that have nothing to do with security because they know you can solve a problem. You are the problem solver. You get the call on everything.International SOS Kelly Johnstone, Sally Llewellyn, Dr. Mark Fischer join Fran Racioppi from GSX.

It’s an empowering and awesome experience to be in those roles.

When you get to the point where they trust you and your decisions, and they want to hear what your opinions are, that’s when you know you’ve done a good job.

Could I add something to that? Being here at GSX, I had an analyst come up to me from a different organization and say, “I feel like no decision-maker is listening to me when I’m telling them that there’s a problem. I’m preparing my assessment. I’m explaining to them. I don’t feel like anyone’s listening.”

I said, “How much time have you spent understanding the decision-makers? What are they responsible for? What’s the business doing? Where are they going? What’s the decision-making cycle? At what point is your analysis relevant? If you haven’t spent the time to do that, no one is ever going to listen. You’ll be an analyst off in the corner, which is easy to ignore potentially and easy to cut.”

As analysts, we have to spend a lot of time understanding who we are speaking to, what decisions they are making, and what they are responsible for. We spend a lot of time doing that at International SOS. How much can we understand about the different clients that we support so that we’re giving them something valuable, relevant, and actionable?

That’s the term analysis. Analysis is not report generation. I don’t need my intelligence analyst to tell me what’s going on in the news. I can watch the news or read the newspaper. What I need them to tell me is why this event happened in this location. How does it affect me? Why do I need to know that information? What decisions now do I need to make based on that information? That’s the analysis. Your response is spot on. You can ask that analyst the question. Are you a reporter or an analyst? Think about that.

I want to go around for a second and ask you what you see as the biggest threats right now because we’ve thrown out a lot in this conversation. We opened It up with the world has changed dramatically in the last years. We’ve talked about terrorism, geopolitical, risk, and nation-state. Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un met. This is a significant event.International SOS Kelly Johnstone, Sally Llewellyn, Dr. Mark Fischer join Fran Racioppi from GSX.

President George Bush was here. We all sat in on his talk. He spoke vehemently about the need to seriously understand what’s going on in the world. America has to stand up with a new generation of leaders. We have to stand at the top of the world order again. We cannot be a passenger as the world order changes. I’ve spoken about that with New Gingrich and a number of other senior leaders. When you assess the world right now, what’s the biggest risk that you see?

Let me start because mine is going to be different from theirs. All of those are important. From the Coca-Cola perspective, we operate in all those countries. It’s critical to us what’s going on in all these different countries all over the world. The relationships between US companies and our presence in other parts of the world. All that stuff is important.

From a chief security officer or security industry’s perspective, what’s hardest is the unpredictableness of all of these different security situations going on. In the past, we used intelligence to look at trends and history. We try to make an analysis of how we need to get ahead of these risks. They were more predictable. We’re going to have a hurricane. We have terrorists out there. How do we harden our stuff?

Predictable, able to mitigate, go forward, and educate. It’s like we have people who are polarized and we can’t even talk to each other. You have people reacting in an aggressive manner. In the United States, we have places that people can’t travel to. None of this stuff happened. The unpredictability of these threats now makes it harder for us to mitigate and get ahead of them. It’s harder to tell our people what to do because we sometimes aren’t expecting what’s happening.

It’s unpredictable. People are acting in ways that we’re not used to seeing people act. It makes it harder to get ahead. All of these things are important, but the unpredictability of it makes it even more difficult to manage and try to stay ahead of. That’s the biggest thing for me if I was thinking about how I was going to protect Coke. It’s a little more complicated.

It’s going to require us to be more proactive in our thought process.

More way looking out like in left field. The things we never thought would happen, let’s think about that. Are we going to be a business that can’t operate in China in the future? Let’s think about that. We’re not shocked if it happens. We wouldn’t have thought about that ten years ago. Those are the kinds of things we have to try to get ahead of that are different than we’ve ever tried to get ahead of.International SOS Kelly Johnstone, Sally Llewellyn, Dr. Mark Fischer join Fran Racioppi from GSX.

I could talk about this topic all day. This is what I do. Let me try and be finite about what it is. You mentioned a lot. Geopolitical risks have changed in the last couple of years. The Russia-Ukraine conflict changed the game in terms of what we could potentially see in terms of geopolitics. Kelly here on an important point around geopolitics. You see for us the immediate risk of a conflict. We saw that in Ukraine. That’s the extreme end of what you can see from a security standpoint.

We had clients impacted all over the world by sanctions, food availability, and flight diversions. It’s those other pieces that impact business beyond those that were immediately impacted on the ground. If I think about all the geopolitical shifts, I think about the complexity of organizations operating in a sanctions compliance environment, which is beyond that immediate security piece. The other thing I’ll touch on quickly is natural disasters. I’m shocked every day that that is probably the number one thing. Mark will say his is number one. If I think about the breadth of client impact globally, it’s a natural disaster and response.

The unpredictable nature of natural disasters that Kelly is talking about. I think about the last couple of weeks. The fires in the resort town of Maui. We’ve seen the earthquake in Morocco. We got lucky with this hurricane coming up the coast. Newfoundland is getting a hurricane. When was the last time that happened?

The floods that they’re now saying were a hurricane. When did you have a hurricane over there?

Los Angeles and Southern California had a hurricane and an earthquake at the same time. I lived in California. We know they couldn’t handle it.

My team is dealing with the dam breach in Libya. We have a lot of clients impacted by that situation. A lot of people don’t realize how many organizations are still operating in a place like Libya. I want to mention terrorism. I’ll be brief. We haven’t seen the impact of Afghanistan yet. There’s an increase in militancy activity in Pakistan that we’re nervous about. The complexity of the drawdown of NATO forces out of the Sahel Wagner operations.

I don’t think we’ve yet seen the mid to longer-term impact of those changes. The other one is information. Polarization, the politicization of information, the future role of AI, and how fast the space is moving from an information overload standpoint. These are some of the things that I grapple with every day around being worried about the risk environment going forward.International SOS Kelly Johnstone, Sally Llewellyn, Dr. Mark Fischer join Fran Racioppi from GSX.

I told you I was going to ask you about social media. How has social media and this transition and digitization of the media cycle and news cycle because it’s instantaneous now and it’s unchecked, how has that changed the threat landscape?

I was an analyst before social media.

I was studying journalism when you still reported the facts.

I was an agent before we had cell phones.

When I look at the team today and how fast-moving information is and how the breadth of what is available, we use some incredible AI tools, which I think are a huge benefit in terms of getting across such a breadth of information. There’s no way a human brain can process all of that. That is extremely helpful.

The negative impact of that is you don’t know the reliability of that source potentially. There is so much misinformation and disinformation out there that it’s difficult to understand. Am I getting something factual? Am I getting a bot? Am I getting a politicized version of a real situation? We have definite examples of that in the US. We see it in Russia and all over the world.

Trying to get to the factual base of that verification is taking longer than it used to take. It’s important for us to provide our clients with verified information that they can trust. That’s part of the value of what we provide because we know they’re making real-world life decisions based on the information that we are providing. There’s a positive and a negative to how fast the social media landscape is moving.

On my end, I’m getting the phone call from my CEO saying, “I saw this thing. Tell me what’s going on.” I’m like, “I don’t know.” Even the people I rely on to tell me the reliability of that is taking longer. Everything is slowing down. Slowing down is not a good thing in the business world. It makes it more difficult.

All these points that you guys discussed are incredibly important. From my perspective, and this could be a long conversation, it’s organizations being resilient. If you’re not being resilient, things continue to evolve. That’s where you’re at risk. We talked about preparing, having a plan, and understanding what happens when you’re there, but things continually change.

[bctt tweet=”If you’re not being resilient as things continue to evolve, that’s where you’re at risk.” username=”talentwargroup”]

Whether it’s because of weather disturbances, terrorism, or new infectious diseases, things occur, and they happen throughout the fiscal year for different organizations. Being resilient and having places to whom you can contact to get that information and verify the information. What do you do with the information? Being okay to say, “This was our initial plan. This is our SOP.” That needs to change a bit. Resiliency is incredibly important.

International SOS Kelly Johnstone, Sally Llewellyn, Dr. Mark Fischer join Fran Racioppi from GSX.Of all places in the world where you’re going to get to experience everything out there, when we talk about security, this is the place at GSX because you can walk this floor, and you can see everything that’s out there. Next year, it’s in Orlando. I’m looking forward to that. I sincerely appreciate all of your time. It was an early morning on day three of GSX, but it’s wrapping up over here in the next couple of days. Everyone is going their separate ways.

I’m thankful for everything that you’re doing in each of your respective roles, what International SOS is doing for the broader community, and the value that they’re bringing to organizations. It’s incumbent upon all of us as security leaders to continue that message that President Bush talked about. We have to think about the reality of what the world brings to us every day.

We don’t live in a world of “Hopefully, nothing will happen.” It is going to happen. Are we going to be ready when it happens? Are we going to be ready across the full spectrum of everything that our organization does? Even though we classify risk, at the end of the day, it’s incumbent upon us to make sure that all of those risks are mitigated as best we can. We protect people, property, brand, and reputation.

A lot of times, when it’s mitigated properly, people say, “It’s no longer a risk.” They take the funding and mitigation. It popped up, and everyone was like, “What happened?” It’s because you stopped mitigating it.

Thank you so much for joining me.

Thanks very much.


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