Our editor Lauren Gow reflects on the Christchurch massacre, urging risk managers to take lessons from Prime Minister Jacinda Arden on how to handle fear in the face of adversity.
There is no glossing over the horror of the Christchurch massacre. For a city that had already faced the unrelenting force of Mother Nature’s earthquakes twice, it seemed despicably unfair that a crisis should once again face this beautiful, peaceful land.
Our correspondent on the ground in New Zealand, Dan, who originally hails from the UK told us: “People are quite shaken. New Zealand is such a peaceful place this sort of thing never happens. It is shocking.”
And yet, one shining light shone through for me from this horror in the strongest leadership I have ever seen from any world leader. I may only be in my mid-30s but I have been an adult through every major world event from September 11 onwards. The majority of my adult life has been spent in London where terrorism is a constant threat, particularly in the Square Mile where I was based.
What my time in London lacked was strong, unwavering leadership in the face of a crisis. And yet, here is New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, a fellow full-time working mother only three years older than me who is leading her country with utter grace and dignity through what is thankfully a most unimaginable situation for most.
I have spent the past week trying to find the words to justifiably express my grief for this situation with Australia’s closest ally, but words have failed me until now. But it is through you, my readers, that I can finally express what I am trying to articulate.
As risk managers, you deal with crises every single day. Some may be as small as a simple operational issue but for others, you have dealt with the horror of mass casualties as a result of plane crashes or environmental disasters. This is the 2am phone call you have spoken to me about many times. There is no worse day for a risk manager than when your 2am phone call becomes a reality. I have heard from many of you first hand the horror of a crisis in full swing and I continue to tip my hat to your professionalism.
For those risk managers who have thankfully only scenario tested the worst day of your lives, I am sure you remain grateful. But I also implore you to take lessons from Prime Minister Arden on how to handle a crisis with the type of leadership that all of us need in a crisis.
Yes, she may be the equivalent of a CEO in your business, but you as risk managers, know the business inside out. Be sure that you are as prepared for that 2am phone call as you can be. Look to other leaders as an example of what to do/not to do in a crisis.
I truly believe the best lessons are those learned in a moment of crisis. Eleanor Roosevelt once said “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’