Q&A with Rob Glenn, Vice President of Global Resilience
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is excited to welcome our newest member of the team – Rob Glenn, vice president of global resilience at the Corporate Citizenship Center. In this role, Rob will lead the Center’s disaster response and community resilience programming – overseeing initiatives such as our ongoing work with the business community during disasters and times of crisis, the Disaster Help Desk for Business, Resilience in a Box, our annual Building Resilience Through Private-Public Partnerships Conference, and more.
Describe your role here at the Foundation.
Although there have been roles focused on disasters at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation before, this role will be broader just as the need for resilience is growing in communities and the systems that support them in the U.S. and around the world.
Personal, business, and community resilience has potentially never been more important as the pandemic and the frequency and severity of disruptions and disasters continues to reveal. Our way of life depends on the reliability of systems and institutions to perform under duress, disruptions, and disasters. Unfortunately, this dependency and system interdependency is often forgotten until it’s on the eve of a disaster or in a crisis underway.
My job is to champion the cause of resilience by enabling strategic conversation, connection, collaboration, and creating optimal outcomes for Chamber Foundation donors and the communities they serve, including cultivating private-public partnerships.
This also means that I’ll be supporting endeavors to build consistent coordination in disasters and helping businesses with readiness resources – both tools and programs to increase their agility for thriving through disruptions. This will also allow an application of scale and capabilities in the U.S. and abroad to help people develop solutions that aid societal readiness for extreme events.
What motivates you?
Making things better. Serving others. Creating and building. Bringing the right players together to collaborate on common sense approaches to complex challenges. Working hard. Spending time with family.
What does business mean to you?
If a business is doing well, it must do good beyond providing the culture, compensation, and commitment to the good or service being produced or purchased.
The business community can make America more resilient and ready for global leadership in many ways that the government can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t do alone. Companies balance their short-term return on investment (ROI) pressures of the business with longer-term initiatives that have a return on resilience for their enterprise, which enables them to be a key player in doing good in areas where they are uniquely suited – by capability, geography, or innovation.
Economists and even kids that read comics (or did) know that “with great power, comes great responsibility.” Accordingly, big brands have opportunities to make a huge difference in how they interact with their customers, as well as their stakeholders in their value chain. Building capacities for operational resilience and crisis management are essential for companies to help their workforce and communities before, during, and after disasters.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
That’s an easy question and hard to answer, so I’ll share a few from mentors over the years:
- Do the right thing when it needs to be done, and don’t worry who gets the credit.
- Do no harm - there is a reason doctors for centuries have followed the Hippocratic oath.
- Read the Bible. Read Marcus Aurelius. Keep and read your own journal. Keep reading.
- Just good enough is not good enough if you are going to make an impact. Don’t settle.
- Confront facts – not fears – to drive your decisions.
- Keep making room for others at the table. We all have a place in the conversation.
- Consider second and third order effects.
What are you working on now as you get started at the Chamber Foundation?
Well, first, I’m listening to a lot of companies sharing their experiences and crisis leadership learnings from the pandemic. They have many ideas and initiatives on how to move forward making their enterprise and communities they serve more resilient. Additionally, our upcoming 11th Annual Building Resilience Through Private-Public Partnerships Conference will be taking place in late July. Registration will be opening soon. We’re building an agenda for the first in-person conference since 2019, and I’m excited to connect with colleagues and partners for the first time in a long time without a screen getting in the way.