Chris Hunter QGM discusses the intense pressure of bomb disposal, overcoming fear and how lessons learnt translate to the corporate world.
Chris Hunter has had a remarkable career, for 17 years he has risked his life to safely diffuse bombs in the military.
He has worked with the UK Special Forces and as an attachment to the Security Service (MI5).
He is now a speaker for our client Harvey Thorneycroft Ltd. He talks to organisations about working under extreme pressure, and dealing with risk.
Thinking two moves ahead
Chris has had to face realtime risk management challenges as a bomb disposal expert.
“You’re putting your wits against the bomb maker and the bomb itself.” He explained.
Technology developments have made this more challenging. New gadgets and devices are being turned into complex weapons: “It’s a game of extreme chess where we’re continually trying to think two moves ahead.” Chris told yBC.
Some truly terrifying incidents have occurred in the course of Chris’s career. One evening his troop was ambushed in Iraq after a long day on duty:
“I wasn’t able to think straight. I wasn’t able to rationalise what was going on. I could just feel these bullets literally cutting the air in front of my face.” he said.
Fear and risk
These experiences gave him an interest in the more scientific elements of fear:
“I discussed this afterwards with some of the psychologists, and some of the people that really understand these responses. It was really interesting to learn how our body works in a high pressure environment.” He said.
While the issues and pressures executives are facing in business are not quite of the same nature as Chris experienced, the coping mechanisms and action strategies can be applied successfully.
“What we are sort of seeing more frequently [in industry] is the idea of using similar models that we use in the military, where we look at a complete cross spectrum of risks.” Chris said.
He told us he has noticed a recurrent fear in the corporate world.
“People I have worked with have had amazing potential, been hugely confident, and on the surface look like they were always destined to achieve success. And there were these two areas that seemed to curtail that. One was an inherent fear of failure, and in some cases also a fear of ridicule.” He said.
Preparing for the future
It is not just Chris’s extreme experiences that translate to business. His training in the military gave him the skill to drill down into information and extract intelligence. Chris said:
“We would use intelligence to look at the opportunities and the threats in the future as well, so that we could orientate our resources to bypass the threats, or deal with them head on.”
This is something all businesses could consider when looking at future risk and opportunity.