2015 Risk All Star: Michael Payne

All the Right Moves

Call him the mover. That essentially was the challenge, in a nutshell. To relocate the Annapolis, Md., headquarters for iJET International.

Michael D. Payne, Organizational Resilience Manager, iJET International

Michael D. Payne, Organizational Resilience Manager, iJET International

The kicker: iJET had less than a year to make the move. Not terribly complicated, you say? The important detail to keep in mind is that iJET specializes in helping multinational enterprises identify threats and mitigate risk. They are there to respond to customer emergencies in single-digit seconds. Such a company could ill afford 10 seconds of disruption to its services during a move. Not only could it destroy its reputation; it could impart unintended risk to clients.

In this way, a seemingly pedestrian facilities move became proof of concept to external clients, and a true test of the organization’s new internal risk management efforts. The goal, then, was to have one shift of employees finish up in the old facility, and the next shift begin in the new site, with zero seconds of interruption, including the Global Integrated Operations Center, the firm’s client-facing, incident-responding nerve center.

And that’s exactly what happened, thanks in large part to Michael D. Payne.

Typical reasons necessitated the move itself. The lease was nearly up. Bandwidth and electricity generation were becoming inadequate. The organization was growing and exceeding the physical space of the old facilities. And yes, that’s facilities plural; the headquarters consisted of a number of buildings spread out with perhaps a quarter-mile between them.

Payne was already working on an update on the organization’s crisis management, emergency response, risk management and business continuity plans, and he saw the logic of pairing the update with the move — a pairing most people wouldn’t have dared to take on.

“While it was a tremendous amount of risk, it was also a tremendous amount of opportunity,” he said.

The efforts were tested almost immediately in both internal and external ways at the new HQ.

Within six months of the move, while some of iJET’s top clients were onsite for an advisory meeting, the facility was struck by lightning. Outside utilities were down for two days.

In April 25, 2015, the Nepal earthquake occurred, taking more than 9,000 lives and injuring more than 23,000. Such an event is an “all-hands-on-deck” for iJET staff to respond to client needs, and they didn’t miss a beat.

Then within six months of the move, while some of iJET’s top clients were onsite for an advisory meeting, the facility was struck by lightning. Outside utilities were down for two days.

“That would have been a very embarrassing event,” Payne recalled — had the iJET facility gone dark. Instead, with the backup generator kicking on in milliseconds, he wonders if some iJET employees even knew that the lightning hit occurred.

He can laugh about it now — how his scheduled practice for the new BCP and emergency preparedness efforts were pre-empted by these real-world events.

Clients can rest assured, too, that Payne is also in charge of their companies’ responses to massive potential disruptions. In his position, he also serves as a global operations incident manager and leads efforts during significant “surge” events, like massive natural calamities, political strife and terrorist attacks.

Payne’s experience makes him well qualified. He previously oversaw the planning and implementation of risk-related programs for 17 nuclear power reactors, and spent 21 years with the U.S. Army and Special Forces, during which time he managed intelligence operations centers for U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed missions and trained the U.S. Marine White House Security Force.

For a professional with that background, what’s orchestrating an HQ move, right?


R9-15-15p26_Intro_Allstar4-2.inddRisk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, perseverance and/or passion.

See the complete list of 2015 Risk All Stars.

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