Back in 2011, The Worshipful Company of Security Professionals used its Royal Charter and the collective knowledge of The Security Institute to create a comparative standard for security. Eight years on, the post-nominals CSyP are now accepted as The Gold Standard for strategic leaders in the security business sector. Rick Mounfield outlines precisely why.
On the day I retired from Her Majesty’s Armed Forces and service with the Royal Military Police – on the ‘Palindrome’ date of 11/11/11 (ie Armistice Day), in fact – I was completely confident that I possessed the necessary skills in close protection, physical security and crime prevention that would be valuable to a civilian employer. I thought that my military career was all the validation I needed to succeed in my second career.
This belief was not unfounded, but while respected, it was challenged by an academic whom I had never met before. That academic was Dr Alison Wakefield who, eight years on, is now the chairman of the Board of The Security Institute and, therefore, my boss.
The debate that ensued in 2011 around the ‘experience verses learning and professional development’ argument made me realise that, as a veteran, I needed to quantify my vocational skills and enhance them with academic reinforcement. I researched many routes to achieving this and decided that it wasn’t enough for me to blow my own trumpet and tell people that I was a professional. Rather, I needed to have my experience peer reviewed and accepted as such. I then made two distinct decisions that eventually led me towards attaining Chartered Security Professional (CSyP) certification in 2016.
First, I joined The Security Institute in order to obtain the MSyI that I recognised on so many other people’s profiles. People whom I respected. Then I started a Master of Science degree in Security Management with Loughborough University. It was during this period that I first heard of the CSyP certification. Back in 2012, I wasn’t confident that I could evidence my strategic skills so decided to make it my mid-term goal and spent the next three years completing the MSc while applying my trade skills to the ultra-high net worth community. This balance of academic knowledge building and vocational experience really worked well.
Upon graduation in 2015, I turned my focus towards Chartered status. I had been a member of The Security Institute for four years at this point and had built up a great network of friends and mentors who helped me prepare to submit my application. It was my decision to wait until I had the MSc before applying, but it’s not an essential requirement.
My first application was returned with a request for enhanced information about how I offer strategic advice to a wealthy family. It was obvious to me, but I hadn’t explained myself well enough in the evidence. I was providing enterprise risk management to family groups, but those families owned businesses that were global brands with estates and assets to rival many FTSE 250 organisations.
Securing multi-generational families often with three generations active on a Board and in the executive of the business is a strategic role and, eventually, I was accepted for the interview phase of the process. My mentor through this was Garry Evanson CSyP, who reassured me that the ten-minute presentation was nothing more than a reinforcement that the interviewee was indeed the person who filled in the Application Form. It could be possible to have someone else write out your CSyP Application Form answers, but it’s not easy to talk with authority about something you didn’t write or, worse still, didn’t actually do.
I was interviewed by two CSyPs who understood my areas of (assumed) expertise, namely Grahame Bullock CSyP and Simon Dilloway CSyP. The time I spent with them went too fast. We had a wonderful conversation about my experiences and they pulled out the information with leading questions that challenged me to demonstrate how I overcame issues and influenced my clients. I believe we could have talked for hours. I’m now a CSyP interviewer and one among many. My expertise in physical security and close protection is accepted, but I cannot rest on my laurels. I’m obliged to maintain a regime of Continuing Professional Development, something which I take very seriously indeed.
CSyP: What it’s all about
The Privy Council sets the standards for Chartered accreditation and the highest levels of professionalism in given business spheres. Security is no exception. Attaining Chartered status doesn’t mean you’re an expert in all areas of security, though. That’s virtually impossible. Like Chartered Engineering, Adam may be a civil engineer building motorways and Eve could well be an electrical engineer constructing computers. They’re not the same, but both are Chartered.
In CSyP terms, Mahbubul Islam is a CSyP with the highest cyber security skills and Julia McClelland is a CSyP due to her specialism in nuclear security.
Reaching this level in security means that an applicant can often be in the later years of a successful career, holding a position of leadership that means they may soon retire and thereafter have no professional use whatsoever for the accreditation. That said, our business sector is now promoting younger thought leaders into these positions. It’s essential that such leaders demonstrate their capability so that our industry is recognised as a profession with career goals at every stage of development. My challenge, then, to those security leaders who hold applicable positions and knowledge is to step forward and be recognised by attaining CSyP status.
Our sector employs specialists with comprehensive experience and academic qualifications. That being so, the Chartered Security Professionals Registration Authority (CSPRA) accepts the fact that some leaders may not have degrees, but still accrue vast strategic experience and are therefore capable of attaining the CSyP designation.
Routes to attainment
There are two routes to attaining CSyP status: the direct route for those with degrees in security and an individual pathway for those without. While the individual pathway requires a written assessment (a research project, if you like), it’s still achievable. Accreditation is equal whichever route is taken.
The Security Institute manages the Register and its application process. We do not own it. That’s the preserve of The Worshipful Company. The CSPRA is presided over by Baroness Ruth Henig CBE DL, with the competency framework and admittance overseen by the Registrar, namely David Gill CSyP. The Board consists of senior Board members from The Worshipful Company and the two licensees: The Security Institute and ASIS UK Chapter 208. Either organisation can offer strategic security professionals personal one-to-one guidance and mentoring to help them achieve their goal.
Indeed, The Security Institute hosts monthly application workshops across the UK to assist applicants in navigating the evidence-based process which is arduous (as you would expect). The common mistake on application is that the candidate doesn’t sell their personal strategic influence as much as they do that of their parent company or team.
Isn’t that just typical of security professionals and our tendency to downplay our personal achievements, instead accrediting our teams with the success of a project?
Candidates should see past that desire and provide evidence of what they deliver on a personal level within the team. It’s their own knowledge and leadership that’s assessed.
There are five competencies that must be demonstrated, with evidence of work included to support a claim of strategic leadership. These are Security Knowledge, Practical Application, Communication, Leadership and Personal Commitment.
The CSyP standard is recognised by both the Security Industry Authority and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI). The latter holds registrants in the highest regard and, as such, lists CSyPs alongside Chartered Engineers on the Register of Security Engineering Specialists.
Further, CSyPs are invited to work with the CPNI on the security of Critical National Infrastructure, permitting attendance on CPNI courses (not available to anyone outside the realms of CNI security) and affording access to its Extranet where incredible resources and cutting-edge advice (that will, no doubt, benefit any security leader) is to be found.
With Government and the wider industry collaborating to create comparative career pathways and professional development, The Security Institute and the CSPRA are aligning to support this initiative. Chartered status is the pinnacle to which all should aspire.
Rick Mounfield CSyP FSyI is CEO of The Security Institute
The Security Institute’s View is compiled and edited by Dr Alison Wakefield FSyI (Chairman of The Security Institute) and Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI (Editor of Risk Xtra)
*If you believe that you can demonstrate strategic influence in security, feel free to explore an application for CSyP by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Further details on the Royal Charter and application process can be found on the CSyP website at www.charteredsecurityprofessional.org