10 Questions with Coventry University Group
Scott Trim from Coventry University Group (CUG) is a pioneer for travel risk management in universities and has been leading a project team to implement a comprehensive framework for CUG. We fire a quick 10 questions at Scott to find out what his motivation has been, challenges he’s come across and what advice he would give others (hindsight is a wonderful thing!)
How many international travellers do CUG have?
What were your main traveller safety concerns before you undertook this project?
It’s really just knowing where people are and being able to respond to them if there is an incident or disaster in a country.
Why was it important for you to introduce a Travel Risk framework for CUG?
It was mostly about our Duty of Care. We had a number of incidents happen where we had staff in country at the time. We had a number of staff in Paris, for instance, when the Charlie Hebdo shootings happened. It's about giving our staff assurance that there are processes in place to make sure they are safe when travelling and we have an oversight of where they are and any risk activity.
The project’s probably been 3 years in the planning, about a year investigating the market and finding out what was there and about 2 years procuring and implementing the project.
What challenges did you come up against?
There’s a lot of people in the market who say they have a great product and there’s very few who have. However, the biggest challenge we’ve had isn’t external, we have had to overcome internal issues in terms of our data structure and IT systems. Managing our IT people to understand what we want to achieve, even now, can be a challenge to get access to the data structures we need for the integration.
How did you overcome these challenges?
We involved stakeholders from across the organisation very early on and it is an ongoing challenge for us as we still haven’t got full integration. We had a meeting with our IT people today and we’re nearly there now but effectively we are behind our schedule.
What do you see are the main benefits?
Travellers are very much more assured particularly when they are going to high and extreme risk destinations that we have oversight of them. The tracking and aspects of the geofencing and alerts have had really good feedback. We now know where staff are and they are following due process. We had lots of people before that would just book their travel totally off book and do their own thing and we have managed to tighten that up. But also, for some of those high and extreme risk destinations the consultancy that Securewest has given us to enable us to complete the risk assessments has been invaluable. We’ve had staff go to Afghanistan, on to the Syrian border, parts of Pakistan and the Philippines that we would have just never of gone to before so it has effectively enabled travel. The risk assessment support and the training has proved a level of engagement from staff we could have only imagined.
Do you have any advice for other universities currently undertaking similar projects?
Absolutely do your homework to what your expectations are of the service and what’s there. There are a number of products out there that claim to do everything and not everybody needs everything. And the other piece of advice is to start talking with your data protection, legal and IT teams as early as possible. We have also found that getting the commitment from people to attend the training is challenging, although once they do, they have found it invaluable.
What is the most high-risk country you have visited on business or leisure?
Tunisia, not very exciting I’m afraid!
What is the one thing you never leave home without when travelling on business?
My phone and my fake wallet.
What is your favourite travel risk story that you are allowed to share with us?
A member of staff from our recruitment and overseas business unit in Bangladesh sat there very anecdotally telling me how he was on his way to a meeting and someone started firing live rounds over the taxi he was in. He was very blasé about “it just happens” he said. He was going to the public square and there was some public disorder. Protesters were throwing things at the police and the police were returning fire with live rounds. He said they just whizzed over the top of his taxi and he thought it was quite exciting. I’m not sure I would have felt the same!
We offer a comprehensive range of Travel Risk tools to help your organisation PREPARE, SAFEGUARD & RESPOND. From one off projects to a fully outsourced travel risk management solution, our suite of services can be configured to meet your requirements and support your existing capabilities, budget and duty of care obligations. For further details please contact +44 (0)1548 856 001 or email us.