Travel Risk Media interview Richard Savage, Global Emergency Response Security Manager at Save the Children

Ben Cooper, Travel Risk Media   •   Aug 2018

Richard, it’s great to see you again, the coffee is here and I know you don’t have long so lets get into it.

How complex would you say the travel risk profile at Save the Children Is?

Save the Children in itself is a very complex organisation with a large global footprint and a substantial global workforce positioned across more than 130 countries. Travel for us doesn’t just mean planes, it means utilising many forms of transport such as buses, trains, cars and motorcycles, boats and ferries to get to the places we need to. Staff mobility allows quick response in rapid onset disasters – This obviously makes for a complicated travel risk management profile.

With that being said, how many of you are there with a specific remit to get involved with travel risk?

Travel within Save the Children International ‘SCI’ falls under the immediate responsibility of the Director of Global Safety & Security and the SCI Travel Manager. Many functions contribute to the effective deployment of staff, with HR, Finance and the Legal team all being key contributors to the travel system and internal management. SCI utilise an external travel management company Diversity Travel, to arrange bookings and assist staff and travellers with their upcoming travel.

You delivered a great talk at the Borderless 2018 conference, for those not familiar, that’s the annual humanitarian travel risk conference, and in your presentation you mentioned 121 travel risk responses in 2017, that’s huge, which was the most memorable? 

Correct! Save the Children International responded to over 120 international emergency responses of varying levels. SCI utilise a category scale to define the severity of the response – Cat 1 being the most severe. One of the stand out responses that took a great deal of coordination for staff travel and movement specifically was Search and Rescue conducted in the Mediterranean sea.

And can I ask which was the most challenging?

I think it is fair to say no single emergency response stands out as the MOST challenging. Each response brings its own unique challenges and issues. Being prepared for this and learning from previous experiences definitely helps set the tone for whatever issues we respond to, whether that be a major conflict outbreak or a natural disaster

What’s the most interesting place you’ve been during your time at Save the Children?

That’s got to be a toss-up between Mongolia and Palestine. Mongolia was such an experience to see the lifestyle of the herder families and the impact the weather has on them was quite the eye opener. Seeing and understanding the Palestine situation first hand was a very humbling experience.

What’s the one tool or service related to travel risk you would never want to be without?

We utilise an internal online Travel Authorisation request (TAR) booking system that links to our travel management company Diversity. This tool that was designed and developed internally has proven to be one of the most effective travel systems for both staff tracking, training and financial management.

And give us one piece of advice for someone new to travel risk in their organisation? 

Ask questions! Understand the facts of where you are going and what you may face when you arrive.

Finally, what hot topic should we definitely not fail to include at this year’s Borderless conference, and will you be joining us again this year Richard? 

I will indeed be joining the Borderless 2019 conference, it’s on my calendar as a must attend event. We at SCI are putting a lot of focus on staff travel for those with diverse profiles – gender being one of the main focuses. I’d like to see this area looked into more.