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As we head towards the Flame Conference on the 28th June, ukactive have asked several of the top speakers appearing at the event a few questions on the premise of their talks. This week we caught up with former Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Maxine de Brunner, who took us through the role of leadership, diversity and continuous modernisation in developing organisations fit to meet future needs.

1. How important is it that companies continually modernise and adapt to the trends of society?

In today’s business world change has to be the new constant. We live in a digital world where fashions and favorites can change with the click of a button.

It is vital that companies constantly review, adapt and develop.

Whilst every company should have a long term strategic plan, these now need to incorporate the flexibility to accommodate almost instant change.

This need to change can come from many directions, some of them historically established such as budget and income, politics and location, others are still developing such as technology and threats to our security.

Today we are on the cusp of one of the most historical changes our country has undertaken in the form of Brexit – no one knows what this means for companies and our economy yet – but we need to be “one step ahead” of our competitors. Organisations must develop the ability to accept and embrace change to survive.

2. Why is diversity so important in any sector? How can the physical activity sector encourage a more diverse workforce?

Diversity is critical in any business it impacts the organisation’s ability to innovate and adapt in a fast-changing environment. Diversity is essential to growth and prosperity of any company because diversity breeds innovation. And innovation breeds business success.

Companies will want to look and feel like a community. Diverse groups and talents come from a range of sectors and all have a varied array of ideas. Without diversity companies are unable to be innovative, or truly forward thinking. A range of skills and experience is needed in every company, not a group of clones who all think and act the same way.

The physical activity sector can do much to help in this regard. For example – Develop a hiring and retention strategy to make your workforce resemble the community you operate in. Ask existing employees for referrals. Talk to community organizations to help find candidates. Provide diversity training in your workplace. Make diversity the golden thread that runs through you company.

3. Cyber-attacks are becoming increasingly common and high profile. How can companies best avoid cyber-attacks and protect their customer’s private data?

Firstly I would say that combatting cyber-attacks is about leadership. Is it always discussed at board level or is it something managed by your IT department? It should be a standing agenda item at all Board meetings and the CEO should always be asking for a situation report.

I have found a prevalent threat is the loss of data or unauthorised access to computers. I urge all business to secure internet enabled devices such as smart phones immediately and ensure up to date anti-virus software is loaded and effective. The easiest way into a company is through insecure channels, so criminals tend to target the easy stuff such as emails, mobile phones and laptops. These often do not have the same level of security or asset control as your work computers. This leaves all businesses vulnerable. If you have ever used your mobile phone for work purposes and you do not have up to date anti-virus software, you are risking the security of your business.

Further important considerations are staff training, testing security systems, review data policies, maintaining asset security and effective use of passwords.

Finally, and most importantly – have an action plan that you have tested. Make sure you know what you are going to do in the event of an attack and deliver the action plan immediately.