This is the 24th instalment in a series of articles for the readers of Risk Xtra where we shine the spotlight on NSI-approved businesses for the benefit of risk and security managers who purchase security guarding as well as systems-focused solutions. Answering our key questions this time around is Mark Hobden, business continuity and compliance manager at Bidvest Noonan.
Risk Xtra: Can you briefly describe your business’ activities and what you consider to be your USP as an organisation?
Mark Hobden: Bidvest Noonan provides a wide range of services which include security, cleaning, reception and mailroom services. We are a team comprised of over 20,000 passionate and customer-focused people.
We’re very proud of the customers we support and the people we employ. Our people deliver services to many of the most iconic buildings and best-known companies across the UK and Ireland.
Our business is structured to support our key sectors. We employ dedicated teams and expert managers for each one. The sectors we support include property management, corporate, retail, life sciences and education.
We’re a highly imaginative business. We challenge the status quo and find better ways of working. Our ability to look beyond ‘the way in which things have always been done’ and leverage insights enables us to design solutions that deliver better value to our customers.
Risk Xtra: What do your clients value most about the services you deliver?
Mark Hobden: The security and safety of our clients’ people, property and reputation is at the core of the service we provide. We’re therefore proactive in the way that we deliver our services, offering advice and proposing solutions that demonstrate value for the security spend.
A security service also has to be reactive at times, responding to incidents appropriately when they occur. One of our most valued services is our incident response process. If there’s an incident we will respond. We have a 24/7 management structure in place so we always have experienced managers at work who can respond, assist and advise at sites during an incident. This capability is supported by our flat management structure which itself is underpinned by agreed escalation and communication procedures for each contract.
Trust is very important to our customers. We work hard to earn their trust and to keep it. We do the basics well and ensure all our people are well trained and motivated to do their best work. Our clients know they can count on us to deliver a great service and to be ready for any and all incidents.
The other side of security is the customer service aspect. While having skilled professionals to deal with incidents, the day-to-day work is the meet and great function. There are many layers of customer service training we provide to our staff. We aim to constantly provide a safe, secure and welcoming working environment for our clients.
Risk Xtra: How do you feel accreditations have assisted your company?
Mark Hobden: There are two main ways in which accreditations assist the business. Our ISOs in Health and Safety, quality and environmental management along with our Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) registration are essentially contractual requirements for a large percentage of our clients. Without them we wouldn’t be compliant for most tenders. They don’t win us contracts, as such, but not having them would impact on our ability to retain and win new business.
We have detailed, accurate, adaptable and tested procedures in place for all aspects of our organisation. We currently hold management system certifications in the following: ISO 9001 (Quality Management Systems), ISO 14001 (Environmental Management Systems), ISO 22301 (Business Continuity Management Systems), ISO 27001 (Information Security Management) and ISO 45001 (Health & Safety). We’re also forward looking and currently considering certification in ISO 50001 (Energy Management).
We’re also audited against static and mobile guarding, key holding and response, CCTV management, the vetting of security personnel, event stewarding and crowd safety and door supervision. Our proven policies, processes and procedures support the practical delivery of these standards.
Our high standards in compliance also enable us to assist clients with their own British Standards and international standards. Recent projects have included us project managing ISO 22301 certification for several clients and an upcoming audit for BS 10012 (Data Protection) for a specific customer.
Mark Hobden: As an organisation we gain value from ACS registration and ISO 9001 as they demonstrate compliance and are often a contractual requirement for our clients. The benefits they offer our clients include the following key areas:
Validated procedures: We don’t just put plans and processes in to place. They are tested on a frequent basis and we’re audited on our testing and exercising regime
Improvements: We constantly look for ways in which to improve how we operate, not just in terms of security operations on our contracts, but also in relation to our back of house support services as well. We use the ‘Plan, Do, Check, Act’ model and this is evidenced through our process enhancement project
Risk: All standards are now risk orientated and this matches our organisation. Risk management at both a strategic and operational level is taken seriously with relevant mitigations put in place for highlighted risks. We also assist clients with their own risk management requirements. We highlight and then offer mitigations to those risks
Risk Xtra: In practice, what are the main differences between ACS registration and NSI Guarding Gold approval?
Mark Hobden: Forgetting the additional scoring on the ACS Workbook, the baseline for accreditation is approximately 80% of the ISO 9001 certification. At the lower level there is not much difference. The differences start to appear the higher your scoring goes. There are a few crossovers but not many. The main way in which I differentiate between the two is that the ACS is about the people and ISO 9001 relates more to the process.
Risk Xtra: How do you feel technology has changed the industry over the last couple of years and what do you believe will be the direction of travel in the future?
Mark Hobden: The use of certain technologies is a continuously evolving trend and can certainly assist the security industry. An innovation a few years ago was body-worn cameras. They are now almost considered the norm and have a much more realistic price than when first developed.
Lately, facial recognition is being discussed a lot more by both clients and colleagues. While I’m not against this it’s important to remember the legalities around camera software. There needs to be a legitimate and legal purpose for its use. If there’s any way of conducting the same task, but by processing less personal data, then we’re legally obliged to look into that method.
We believe technology has the potential to keep our people safer and to increase the value we can deliver to customers. We’ve established a Centre for Innovation at our head office and we’re investing to explore and develop news solutions for today’s challenges.
Risk Xtra: When it comes to negotiating contracts and responding to tender requests, what aspects are of most value to customers and how are these changing?
Mark Hobden: Insurance is an area which is frequently negotiated as you will find that larger multinational organisations such as ours will push back on the insurance types and values if they mention uncapped or unlimited liability.
Increasingly, contracts are being mandated by customers with negative tender evaluation scoring for any supplier objections or requested changes to the contract terms supplied with tender packs. In addition, we often see contracts and Framework Agreements with a non-reciprocal 30 days for convenience termination clauses.
oving forward, we’re beginning to see a shift in focus to Corporate Social Responsibility. I believe this will continue to become a crucial part of tender responses going forward, with companies asked to provide evidence of their local recruitment strategies and how they will support the local community. Well-being and mental health will also continue to increase in importance and is an area that we’re strengthening in our proposals.
Risk Xtra: How has Government legislation (eg the National Minimum Wage, the National Living Wage and changes to holiday pay) affected your business? Do you believe such legislation is a good thing?
Mark Hobden: The London Living Wage is certainly a good initiative. It’s a shame that it’s voluntary and not a mandatory scheme. Our business fully supports all Government initiatives and legislation particularly in the area of improved employee pay and benefits. Wherever possible we look to enhance these benefits and aim to provide positive working conditions and benefits for all our employees.
Risk Xtra: What are the most important attributes you look for in your security officers and staff members in general?
Mark Hobden: A passion for providing exceptional service. Customer focus. The ability to work as part of a team. Good communication skills. Honesty and trustworthyness. Intelligence and a positive work ethic. All of these things are of particular importance.
To ensure that our staff fall into line with contractual training requirements and to assist staff in their career development we have a comprehensive training and development package in place.
Risk Xtra: How can the SIA, the NSI and industry standards best serve the sector in addition to the needs of your company’s clients and the wider public interest? Will the planned introduction of business licensing be a positive step?
Mark Hobden: I don’t believe that business licence is happening any time soon, but if it helps to raise industry standards it can only be a good thing.
I have literally just read the SIA’s proposal for a Code of Conduct for licence holders, I know this is just in draft format at present, but I believe this is another positive step forward for the SIA in improving our industry.
Over the past year or so, the SIA seems to be more proactive with schemes and ideas. This perhaps reflects the direction of the Regulator’s new CEO.
Time in security business sector
I’ve served in the industry since 2007. I joined Wilson James after leaving Her Majesty’s Armed Forces and was fortunate enough to work on some diverse high-profile contracts for companies including Rio Tinto, Nomura, PwC and the Financial Services Authority (now, of course, the Financial Conduct Authority). In April 2012 I joined Ultimate Security, starting at The Shard, and then moved on to the business continuity manager’s role for the company operations team in 2013. In November 2017, Ultimate Security was purchased by Noonan and my role has really evolved since then. Prior to the acquisition I was predominantly working in the London corporate sector. Now, I work for other services in GB and the Republic of Ireland
Location of the business
Operational across both the UK and the Republic of Ireland, with the head office located in the City of London
Areas of expertise
Front of House, Control Room operations, security reviews, risk management, table top exercises, mail room, loading bay, emergency planning, CCTV management, static and mobile security guarding, key holding, alarm response and business continuity planning
Accreditations held by the company
SIA Approved Contractor, NSI Guarding Gold*, NSI Facilities Management Gold, ISO 9001 (Quality Management Systems), ISO 14001 (Environmental Management Systems), ISO 22301 (Business Continuity Management Systems), ISO 27001 (Information Security), ISO 45001 (Health and Safety Management Systems), SafeContractor
*NSI Guarding Gold approval includes static and mobile security guarding, key holding and response, screening/vetting of security personnel, CCTV, event stewarding and crowd safety and door supervision
About the National Security Inspectorate
The National Security Inspectorate (NSI) is a wholly-independent, not-for-profit company limited by guarantee and operates as a UKAS-accredited certification body specialising in the security and fire safety sectors.
For over 40 years, the NSI has served to protect businesses, homeowners and the general public alike, raising standards by providing robust and high quality audits of both security and fire safety service providers.