Global programme manager Jef Robinson looks after his company’s meetings and events. He explains how the software company he works for prioritises risk in its travel programme
We have a very robust risk policy and work with our security team on a daily basis. They take care of the management of policies and processes, and the information we have feeds directly to the security team regarding transient travel, and meetings and events; we inform them of the movements of every individual, and the booking data is integrated with International SOS.
International organisations need to invest in their own dedicated security or risk team. Smaller companies, however, shouldn’t try and do it all in-house; they shouldn’t try to take responsibility for the lives of travellers. We work with a larger company as it’s important to have professional back-up.
Security and risk management are the cornerstones of our travel and meetings policies, and this is communicated to all travellers and stakeholders at all levels and at every opportunity. Our executive level stakeholders and our finance vice-president, who is responsible for travel and meetings, send frequent emails to raise awareness of travel and meetings processes.
Our SVP chief security and information officer sits on the board of the executive leadership team and reports to the chief executive, which reflects the importance of security. As part of staff training, everybody has to take, pass and electronically sign mandatory online courses at least once a year, which include awareness of security.
Managing bookings below the radar is still our biggest challenge, however, with ongoing communication and one-to-ones with travellers and planners, out-of-policy bookings are now in low double figures.
Some of our travellers go to high-risk destinations, and it is important they have an understanding of the culture and an awareness of local dangers. They work closely with the security team and discuss risk mitigation. They have the option not to go – there is no mandate for travellers to travel where there is danger.
Culture also comes into play. If they do not understand customs and etiquette in somewhere like the UAE, for example, and inadvertently do something that will have repercussions, there would be fall-out for the company as well. This concerns reputation management and would be part of discussions with the security team.
Our travellers have access to International SOS and our security team contacts them before they travel. They also have a duty to mitigate risk by using the tools and processes we have in place.
As global programme manager for an international software company, Jef Robinson is responsible for meetings and events procurement, including supplier and contract management, as well as the transient travel category of spend