WBCM Spotlight: Maira Zahur, CBCP

Maira Zahur is an International Development professional with experience in Emergency Management (EM), Crisis Management (CM) and Business Continuity (BC). She is a recent recipient of the DRI Foundation’s Women in BCM Scholarship, and as a result, has earned her CBCP certification with DRI International. 

What is your professional background? How did you get there?

I’m an International Development professional from South Asia with experience in emergency management, disaster risk reduction, and climate change adaptation with focus on gender and inclusion issues. I have not only worked at the grassroots, but have made valuable contributions in policy circles at national, regional and international levels. A lot of my work revolves around identifying vulnerabilities and addressing risks with the help of data, research, partnerships and networks.

I moved to the U.S. six years back. For the first five years, I balanced raising a family and doing some consulting work across the globe. Around a year back I started looking for opportunities in the U.S. around emergency management. This journey of networking and learning pointed towards the business continuity field.

What does DRI certification mean to you?

All my EM experience is in the public sector, particularly in South Asia. I was looking for guidance and handholding. I’m extremely grateful for DRI’s leadership for this opportunity. It will give me an avenue to pursue coursework/certification and also introduce me to the networks to learn from and grow with.

What made you interested in business continuity?

COVID-19 has not only exposed the root causes of exclusion and vulnerability, it has also brought out the resilience of societies and communities. It has shown us how we can come together in unprecedented times. It has encouraged continuity and out of the box solutions. I feel that in the backdrop of COVID-19, BC is the need of the hour for both business and public sectors. It’s important for the world to look for win-win situations and solutions.

Do you have any life experience that makes this field especially compelling?

During South Asian Earthquake of 2005, I was part of a team that worked 24/7 to bring relief to the affected communities. It was an extremely enriching experience, both personally and professionally. My major takeaway from that experience was that people should be part of the decision making and structures/processes must facilitate it.