<< view all News

Who is our Crisis Management expert?

At the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) we have 18 thematic clusters including Crisis Management. Crisis Management is crucial to all organisations and companies. Dive in deeper with our expert, Mr David Horobin, and learn more about his upcoming executive education course in Singapore on ‘Crisis Management: Navigating the Storm’ in partnership with S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS).

Tell us about yourself:

Name: David HOROBIN

Current Job Title: Crisis Management Cluster Leader

Education: BSc, MSc (Transport Engineering) Imperial College, London; EU High Level Coordinator; Kidnap Management specialist; People, Leadership and Management certification

Contact information: d.horobin@gcsp.ch

Why did you choose to enter this field?

I have been involved in operational crisis management, security and emergency response for more than 25 years. I started my career as a logistician in the commercial sector and then I moved into the humanitarian response field for both governments and International Organisations. I worked on large scale emergencies, responding to the multiple-challenges faced including damaged infrastructure and complex security risks. In the work I am currently doing, I am applying extensive field experience to the evolving crisis management theory and sharing best practice to assist leaders. My aim is to enhance their skills, form effective crisis teams and navigate through the complexities of crisis management.


What is your role at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP)?

As the GCSP’s Crisis Management cluster leader, my role is to design and implement crisis management adult education courses. The courses are targeted to practitioners and leaders from governments, military, International Organisations and the commercial sector. In the courses, we undertake thematic and case study research and develop real life simulations for maximum impact. We have proven that this interactive way of learning enhances leadership skills and prepares leaders for the behavioural aspects of crisis management and decision making.


Tell us more about the courses you run.

GCSP’s crisis management courses explore with participants and experts the anatomy and characteristics of high impact crisis and how to better prepare, mitigate, respond and learn from different type of events. Participants learn about the importance of risk analysis, how to build and develop trust and how to use customised processes to guide the various steps needed for successful crisis management. Participants learn about their own style of crisis leadership and enhance their practical skills through specially designed simulations.  


How do you see Crisis Management shaping the future?

In today’s complex and fast moving world, organisations and leaders will face more and more crises that move quicker than ever before. Any leader or crisis management team will be scrutinised both internally and externally regardless if the event is managed well or not. Post-event criticism is unavoidable.

It is important that such leaders increase their awareness that most crisis emanate from poor management or lack of preparedness. Being equipped and prepared for crisis management allows leaders to better understand what is, and what is not, a crisis.


What have you learnt from the participants in your courses?

Often the first simulation is a major challenge and the teams do not work well together. By day five, the progress is remarkable and the participants feel it too. Depending on where participants come, from the level of understanding how to identify what constitutes a crisis or not is often highly revealing. Many participants only know their own internal processes and yet don’t know who is going to “push the button” to activate the Crisis Management Team (CMT)- additionally many have never run any tests on their crisis management process nor undertaken a risk register. Having mixed groups from governments, military, banks, NGOs etc. provides a great dynamic on sharing knowledge and experience as well as lessons learnt.


What is the best piece of advice you were ever given?

As a crisis leader you need to develop trust in your team---this can takes years to nurture and seconds to loose. Know the job of everyone in your team.


What’s the next challenge for crisis management?

The famous “golden hours” of crisis response no longer exist - nowadays you may have only minutes- and CMT’s need to adapt to this. One of the most important and growing challenges is around information management, especially through various social media or citizen journalism channels. Fake or inaccurate information can severely impact decision making, as well as, the mass of data that you may need to quickly analyse and make decisions on. This problem is recognised but there are no simple solutions so awareness is currently the best mitigating measure- we are researching more deeply into this.


What’s coming up next in crisis management at the GCSP?

We are developing a new course for government officials who may need to deal with situations when their nationals overseas are caught up in a crisis situation such as a serious pandemic, natural disaster, air crash or terrorist incident. Many governments operate in different ways and there is often little sharing of lessons learnt, however, the GCSP is a world-leading centre in research and identifying best practice in crisis management.


Apply for Singapore course