When the coronavirus pandemic prompted Nasdaq’s operations to shutter offices earlier this year, it was not a completely unfamiliar scenario for staff. They had practiced how to deal with an abrupt shift in operations during a crisis—except when they practiced, the crisis wasn’t a pandemic, but rather an undetonated bomb in the center of Vilnius, where the group’s European operations has one of its biggest offices.
The Lithuanian capital, like many European cities, has occasionally had to contend with construction work surfacing undetonated bombs left over from World War II. Running a simulation like this, one of many scenarios Nasdaq uses, is part of the stock-exchange operator’s “business continuity planning.” It’s a common practice that helps global corporations test what would be required if operations needed to be transferred from one location to another, ensuring staff would be able to access systems, and establishing standards and routines to cope with crises.
Having a culture used to these kinds of rehearsals put the company in good stead when the coronavirus pandemic shuttered offices earlier this year, says Gunilla Hellqvist, head of Nasdaq’s European market operations. She’s based in Stockholm and oversees 230 people in half a dozen cities, including Vilnius.