The art and science of crisis management

PwC alumnus Daniel Laufer reveals
how companies should plan for and
learn from a crisis.

Image:Daniel Laufer

Daniel Laufer reflects on the challenge of staying one step ahead of a crisis.

With no shortage of corporate challenges in the news, Daniel Laufer is a popular guy these days. An expert in crisis management, he’s frequently asked to speak on the subject and provide commentary to national news outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, CNN and the Associated Press. His ability to examine issues through multiple lenses — business strategy, consumer psychology and marketing, to name a few — has helped him build a successful career that bridges the gap between academia and industry.

Laufer started out as an auditor with PwC’s Buffalo office in 1991. He left to pursue an MBA at the University of Texas at Austin, and in 1993, he returned to PwC as a senior consultant in Houston. He later went on to establish his own international consulting firm and received a PhD in marketing at the University of Texas at Austin in 2002. Since then, he has been conducting research in areas relating to crisis management and has been teaching courses at the university level for nearly a decade.

Laufer is currently an associate professor of marketing at Yeshiva University in New York and also leads executive seminars on crisis management. He spoke with Keyword recently about how companies in all industries, including technology, should prepare for and respond to a crisis.

How did you first become interested in the area of crisis management?

Laufer: My interest goes back to my early days at PwC. In Houston, I worked with the firm’s Dispute Analysis and Corporate Recovery group, which handled, among other things, fraud audits and forensic accounting. I worked on the litigation side, which has a connection to crisis management. For example, PwC might be hired to estimate what sort of damages have been caused to a company as a result of a business transaction gone bad or what kind of harm was caused by fraudulent activity. A lot of these damages occur as a result of a certain crisis, such as the breach of a key contract or embezzlement by employees. Events like these also relate to risk assessment, which is directly connected to crisis management.