Company awarded for preparedness during 25 January uprising

A Cairo-based call center company has received an international award for its preparedness and emergency management strategies employed during the country's 25 January uprising in 2011.

Xceed, an outsourcing company that mainly provides call center services for clients abroad, received the "2011 Business Continuity Team of the Year Award" from the Business Continuity Institute, an international institute that works to promote guidance and support for businesses in emergency management and continuity of services.

The 25 January uprising and the ensuing political turmoil dealt a serious blow to the country's economy. During the 18 days of protest, and the ensuing weeks when police withdrew from the streets, many locally and foreign-run businesses closed their doors, and some foreign companies pulled out completely. Safety fears climaxed when looters raided shops in the city's wealthier areas.

In order to continue to operate during the security vacuum, Xceed provided beds for shifts of 800 people to sleep in the office, and fed the employees staying in the office breakfast, lunch and dinner. The firm also provided transportation for employees and gave them the option to stay home.

"Continuity of operations is the ability to keep employees safe, information safe, and still continue to offer services in the case of unforeseen events," Walid Yasser, information security supervisor at Xceed, said in a press conference last week.

In spite of the circumstances, Yasser said the company continued to provide call center services for nearly all of its clients.

Xceed would not have been able to continue working without serious emergency planning and dedicated employees, said Khaled Embaby, the IT service control director.

This was the first time the award had been offered in the Middle East. The firm beat businesses from all over the region, including Bahrain, Iran, the Palestinian territories, Syria and Yemen. It was awarded on the basis of the company's performance and the thoroughness of its emergency plans.

"This award shows that customers can trust in Xceed, and not only in Xceed, but in Egypt," said Embaby.

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