Courage under fire

10 October 2013
The importance of risk management in the procurement and supply chain profession is increasing. Indeed, it is one of the themes of the CIPS Annual Conference and Exhibition taking place in London today. And it was also a topic of discussion for many of the attendees at last night's CIPS president's dinner.

At the gathering last night, sponsored by Xchanging, Major Chris Hunter, a former army bomb disposal expert and now an author and motivational speaker, gave some insight into what risk management looks like in that world.

Hunter said he chose not to wear one of the protective suits, which will be familiar to those who have seen the movie The Hurt Locker, when tackling devices. This was prompted by the combination of the 50 degree heat of the Middle East and the reality that if a bomb goes off while you are trying to defuse it "you might as well be wearing a packet of crisps" for the protection it will give you. He also recounted the story of trying to deal with a car bomb that had been placed in front of a hospital in Iraq. Rather than trying to defuse the device by hand, he decided to use a robot, and so first entered the hospital to urge all those inside to move towards the back in case the bomb went off. Once they had done, he used the robot to approach the car. Expecting a small pop as the robot opened the car's boot, instead there was an enormous explosion (destroying the million pound robot in the process). When one of Hunter's colleagues rushed in to check on those inside the hospital he asked if anyone inside was injured. An Iraqi surgeon responded in cut glass English: "What do you think? This is a hospital." Hunter, who was awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal, also shared his experience tackling the IRA in Northern Ireland, dealing with suicide bombers in Gloucester, and being ambushed (and getting shot) while in a convoy in Iraq.
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