When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Canada, many people realized how little they knew about dealing with a crisis. Not Kyle Klein. He graduated from The Chang School’s Disaster and Emergency Management certificate program in 2014 (now the Emergency Management and Response Planning Certificate), and he has seen a significant increase in employer interest in people with his skills this year.
“COVID has exponentially accelerated the visibility of emergency management and the need for business continuity,” he says. “[Companies] want someone there who can not only help with what’s going on right now, but be able to build for the future and be able to plan for these things down the road.”
The Case for Continuing Education
Kyle decided to pursue continuing education in emergency management while he was running a business that contracted emergency services, including security and medical response, for events. His clients were engaging him to work on bigger events and beginning to ask him to develop emergency plans for them.
“I already had a university degree in business. I was running my own business. I was looking to just gain a little extra knowledge out there, head a little bit more towards that industry and [learn] how it could connect to what I was doing. Continuing education just made sense,” he explains.
Kyle chose The Chang School’s program because it would provide a quick, efficient overview of the field – and, because the program was brand new, he ended up being its first graduate.
“The foundations of that program stick with me in everything I do, even today.”Kyle Klein
He explains that emergency management starts with an assessment of the impacts on an organization: if a company depends on computers, an interruption in the supply of power could have a significant effect. “Once you know what your resources are, once you do these assessments on your business function … you can start planning ahead without knowing what’s coming,” he says.
Charting a New Course
As it happened, the decision to delve more deeply into emergency management changed the path of Kyle’s career. He wound down his business and accepted a full-time position overseeing emergency management and security for a university in British Columbia. Then he took an opportunity to move back to Ontario to be closer to his family with a new job as manager of emergency preparedness, parking and security for a hospital. More recently, he moved into the private sector as a security lead at Shopify, and has started providing security and emergency management consulting services on the side.
He enjoys the challenges of “every day being something different, a very fast-moving environment, a complex environment.” And, while acknowledging how difficult the pandemic has been for so many people, he also recognizes that it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to apply all of his education and work experience in a very tangible way.
“What’s pretty amazing is to see the number of job postings in the industry that have spiked up since COVID,” he adds. “COVID has really shown the need and the value of a dedicated role, whether it’s emergency management or business continuity or a lot of companies are calling it resiliency … People know bad things happen. We need a way to mitigate them from happening, respond to them when they do happen, and … continue providing service.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alison MacAlpine is an award-winning writer and editor based in Toronto. She contributes regularly to The Globe and Mail and, through her company AM Communications, develops everything from brochures and newsletters to presentations, speeches and web sites. She is also an enthusiastic lifelong learner who has benefited from many classes at The Chang School over her 25-year career.