HR Tech Interview with Christopher Kenessey, Chief Executive Officer at AlertMedia

Journey into Tech

Hi Christopher, Welcome to our HR Tech Interview Series. Please tell us a little bit about your role and responsibilities in your current company. How did you arrive at AlertMedia?

Thanks for having me. I’m the CEO of AlertMedia, which is the world’s fastest growing threat intelligence and emergency communication provider. A big part of my job is meeting with current and prospective customers, both to solicit feedback and share our vision for how AlertMedia can support their organization’s employee safety, security, and business continuity goals. I also work closely with our senior leadership team to ensure we’re doing everything in our power to support our customers’ efforts to keep their people and businesses safe during emergencies. Prior to joining AlertMedia in March 2022, I spent roughly 20 years in executive leadership roles for various tech and fast-growth software organizations, including NetMotion, The Foundry, and Cisco.

Could you tell us more about AlertMedia? What are your core offerings?

AlertMedia’s mission is to help organizations keep their people safe during emergencies and other critical events. The company was founded almost exactly a decade ago after Brian Cruver, AlertMedia’s founder, saw the devastating impacts of events like the Boston Marathon Bombing and the Newtown School shooting. At the time, there was a major gap in the way that organizations received information about threats occurring near their employees and facilities, which impacted their ability to reach people in harm’s way quickly.

Over the past decade, we’ve developed a very powerful but intuitive emergency communication solution along with an in-house threat intelligence offering to help our customers monitor, detect, and communicate about any number of incidents that pose safety, security, or operational risks.

Our Global Intelligence Team—comprised of experienced analysts and meteorologists work around the clock to monitor thousands of data sources, filter out false alarms and misinformation, and deliver the most relevant information about emerging threats occurring near our customers’ people and assets. From a map view, our customers can see emerging and active threats anywhere in the world that may impact their employees’ safety or business continuity. In seconds, they can identify employees in the vicinity of an emergency and send multichannel alerts to ensure the right information reaches the right audience.

Additionally, we recently announced a new solution called Travel Risk Management, which enables organizations to evaluate the risk levels of travelers’ destinations, monitor active and emerging threats near their entire traveling workforce, and quickly reach them in the event of an emergency–all within a single solution.

Recommended: HR Tech Interview with Purbita Banerjee, SVP, Head of Product Management at Korn Ferry

How important is employee safety monitoring in the current era of uncertainties? How do customers use your platform to stay alert about their employees and their safety?

One of the harsh realities of emergencies is that we don’t get to control how, when, or where they happen. From severe weather to public violence to economic uncertainty, today’s crisis climate is rapidly becoming more intense and unpredictable. As such, it’s no longer a matter of if but a matter of when a significant emergency will impact an organization’s people or operations.

Many of our customers have multiple locations, workers in the field, or a dispersed remote workforce, making it incredibly challenging to monitor all employees’ locations. Most organizations are not adequately staffed to monitor the growing number of active global threats intersecting with their ever changing employee population. For our customers, having the ability to quickly identify a threat such as an active shooter or an unexpected tornado, and alert employees within seconds, has saved lives countless times.

Our platform integrates with top HRIS systems and constantly pulls a live feed of employee data to identify what segment of the employee population is near a threat. HR, safety, security, and business continuity teams can easily see all employees working locations and any threats near them on a map view. Advanced automation capabilities allow our team to alert customers of threats within seconds and allow system administrators to quickly notify all impacted employees with a few clicks.

What does your recent research report say about workplace safety? What kind of threats do employees face at their workplace?

Unfortunately, employers everywhere are dealing with an increasingly volatile and severe risk landscape. Severe weather events have become more frequent, impactful, and unpredictable. We’ve seen an increase in civil unrest, which impacts both safety and operations for businesses with a large geographic footprint. And tragically, many organizations are dealing with skyrocketing rates of workplace violence in recent years. In fact, there were 392 homicides and more than 37,000 nonfatal, intentional injuries caused by another person in workplaces around the U.S. in 2020 (the most recent year for which this data is available).

Our recent report on the State of Employee Safety highlighted the extent to which these trends are weighing on the minds of employees. Across all industries and generations, the research found employees care deeply about feeling safe at work—no matter their location. However, 75% of employees say their company’s safety efforts have not been very effective, and 71% say their employers are not following through on safety promises.

The good news for employers is that what employees want when it comes to their safety is fairly straightforward. They want more frequent and better training along with better communication before, during, and after emergencies. These simple steps are both powerful retention tools and have proven to positively influence employees’ perception of safety in the workplace.

Recommended: HR Tech Interview with Rosa Finelli, Executive Director, L&D at Kaplan

Are employers aware of their options when it comes to providing a safer workplace to employees beyond hygiene components?

We hear often from employers that they know they have a technology gap when it comes to employee safety, emergency communication, and risk monitoring. Specifically, many have homegrown or legacy solutions that are insufficient—either because of cumbersome software that results in low adoption or piecemealed solutions that make it difficult to quickly get information out when it matters most.

During an emergency, seconds matter. Everything is urgent and information is often imperfect, which is why it’s critical to have tools and processes that you can trust. For that reason, we’ve spent years building solutions that are natively built, fully integrated, and designed specifically to help organizations save time and communicate faster.

Has the hybrid working system put employees at higher workplace risks?

There’s no question that remote and hybrid work makes it harder for organizations to meet duty of care obligations.

As mentioned, the increase in severe weather events alone—combined with a more dispersed workforce—means that employers now must account for risks occurring hundreds or thousands of miles away from their corporate offices. Other operational risks like power outages are also occurring more frequently across the country, which can cost organizations hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in lost productivity and downtime.

No matter the situation, the ability to quickly communicate with employees during an emergency sends a powerful message to your workforce that their safety and well being is the top priority. There is no stronger way to demonstrate your values than showing up and helping employees during a crisis.

Recommended: HR Tech Interview With Alison Martin, Founder and Managing Director at Engage Mentoring

What should employers do to attach financial resilience to employee safety initiatives?

In 2021, the top 10 workplace injuries cost businesses a total of nearly $59 billion. From fall protection and respiratory safety to natural disaster preparedness and workplace violence prevention, investing in maintaining a safe workplace helps minimize liability and can also help organizations obtain more favorable insurance terms.

Organizations that prioritize employee safety and build it into the framework of the company’s culture also experience lower turnover, higher morale, and increased productivity overall. When employers invest in employees’ wellbeing, it boosts feelings of trust and support overall and becomes the foundation of a healthy, resilient organization.

Your take on the future of AI-powered apps in threat intelligence and employee safety notification:

When it comes to identifying threats and responding to emergencies that have potential to cost lives, human empathy, discretion, and verification will always be essential. There are many examples of poor crisis communication leading to significant brand and reputational damage. While AI-powered technology will clearly continue to improve, I fully expect crisis management teams and threat intelligence analysts to play a vital role in helping organizations protect their people and businesses for years to come.

Thank you, Christopher! That was fun and hope to see you back on HR Tech Series soon.

[To participate in our interview series, please write to us at

Christopher Kenessey is CEO of AlertMedia, the world’s leading emergency communication and threat intelligence provider. As CEO, Christopher oversees all aspects of corporate strategy in support of AlertMedia’s mission to help organizations protect their people and businesses during emergencies.

Christopher has more than 20 years of executive leadership experience at various tech and fast-growth software organizations. Prior to AlertMedia, he served as CEO of NetMotion, a leading provider of remote connectivity and security solutions used by thousands of leading brands around the world. During his tenure, Kenessey successfully led the company through a sustained period of rapid and profitable growth, resulting in its acquisition by Absolute Software in July 2021.

AlertMedia is the world’s leading emergency communication provider. Our award-winning, two-way multichannel messaging system, threat intelligence, and 24/7 employee safety solutions help organizations protect their people and business through all phases of an emergency. AlertMedia supports critical communication for thousands of leading businesses—including DHL, JetBlue, Coca-Cola Bottling, and Walmart—in more than 130 countries.

AlertMediaEmployee SafetyExecutive LeadershipHRIS systemsRemote and hybridremote workforcethreat intelligence