From February 18 to March 1, 2014, political tensions in Ukraine escalated following months of bloody anti-government protests and the subsequent “annexation” of the Crimea region by Russia. Violence spread throughout the capital city of Kiev, threatening to shut down businesses and impact the safety of employees and expatriates. WorldAware’s “Prepare, Monitor and Respond” philosophy was in full force, giving clients early warning, intelligence and analysis in order to mitigate potential exposures to travelers and ensure business continuity. Once the recommendation to self-evacuate was made, WorldAware’s security experts and on-the-ground security team personnel initiated protocols regarding primary and alternate communication plans and client contingency planning. WorldAware responded by assisting clients to safely self-evacuate remaining expatriates out of the country within hours after the gunfire had begun.
As tension in Kiev began to ramp up in early March 2014, WorldAware identified clients in the city and surrounding areas and assessed their exposure to risks, as well as business continuity plans. All clients were contacted and advised to begin proactively preparing for a possible deterioration of the security situation. Daily telephonic and email communication allowed clients to understand the scope and breadth of the unfolding situation. Maintaining 24/7 contact with WorldAware’s security assets in Kiev was crucial in identifying current events and in effective planning next steps with clients at risk.
Some client offices were tagged as being “too close” to the protest sites within the business district of Kiev. WorldAware worked closely with clients to implement “work-from-home” contingency plans to reduce risk exposure. Personnel were advised to stockpile 3 – 5 days of food and water at the office, home and/or hotel in case shelter in place became necessary or required by local authorities.
WorldAware coordinated with clients to ensure a proper communication tree was established to keep company leadership informed on the whereabouts and status of employees. Additional client advice was provided to identify company proprietary/confidential information. Ongoing contingency planning then provided an effective means for safeguarding sensitive information in a manner that would facilitate a rapid recovery to business operations when safe to do so. WorldAware also coordinated with clients to be familiar with commercial flight schedules and a pre-approved purchasing process in order to facilitate a rapid evacuation of remaining expatriates within four hours via commercial air after the gunfire started.
The WorldAware “Prepare, Monitor and Respond” approach served our clients well in Ukraine. Our efforts to work closely with our clientele began weeks before the collapse of the Ukrainian government and this helped to “Prepare” clients to be ready to enact contingency planning. We continuously had to “Monitor” the situation to effectively advise our clients when to implement their contingency plans. We were able to “Respond” with on-the-ground information; this support was instrumental in protecting our clients’ most valuable resources (their employees) and in mitigating corporate exposure. There was not one report of injury or harm; all expatriates were safely evacuated within hours and business operations rapidly returned to normal once Kiev stabilized.
Providing the client in Ukraine with best practices, advice and assistance, and being fully prepared to step in and assist using in-country assets if needed, highlights WorldAware’s ability to provide maximum value. Close interaction with clients greatly assisted them in meeting their duty of care to their employees by providing them with individual protective measures to survive the dangerous government collapse, and a swift means to safely self-evacuate essential personnel out of country in a timely manner, saving both potential reputational damage as well as costs associated with almost inevitable litigation.
WorldAware solutions enable organizations to operate globally with confidence by helping them prepare, monitor and respond to threats that could impact operational performance. Contact us for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.