“Failing to plan is planning to fail…” That’s a famous quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin, of course, who was known as the ‘father of time management’. It sums up the way in which Rick Mounfield believes the security professionals of today need to consider their future pathways. These wise words should also resonate with security businesses, in-house Security Departments and, indeed, the manufacturers of security products.
As a veteran of Her Majesty’s British Army, like many others I’m well aware of another, somewhat more crude adage based on the 7 Ps (prior planning and preparation prevents a p**s poor performance). So, why is it that so many individuals resident within the security industry believe themselves to be professional when they don’t plan to enhance their knowledge or capability, and particularly so when the threats are continually evolving into a more complex and challenging landscape?
In my role as CEO at The Security Institute, I routinely meet the most professional security experts from a multitude of disciplines across many countries. Unfortunately, I also come across too many who believe themselves to be experts, despite the fact that they have not professionally developed themselves for years. It’s my firm belief that our industry can no longer tolerate such complacency. In the past 18 months, I’ve witnessed a sea change of opinion that would appear to suggest I’m not alone in this belief.
I use the term ‘industry’ when I relate to the security scene because I see energetic and devoted activity across Government and the commercial spaces. The aggregate of work, scholarship and ancillary activity in the principal subject of security. We do have a security industry. Within that industry there must be a systematic approach towards progress and innovation that can only be manifest through personal Continuing Professional Development. The professional development of groups of individuals within the security business sector will then realise a collective capability that advances innovation and more effectively addresses threats on a larger scale.
At The Security Institute, our strategic planning process has invested considerable thought leadership and finances into providing the tools our members value. Our members join the Institute to become better at what they do. To have access to mentoring and professional development opportunities that can only be realised when a collective group of professionals share their expertise and knowledge. Our plan continues to develop with clarity and purpose. Let me share some of our priorities with you, the dedicated readers of Risk Xtra.
Special Interest Groups
Twelve months ago, we realised that our members had no direct route to voice their opinions and wishes to the Board of Directors. Admittedly, many long-term members would know who to speak to but, generally, ‘average Joe’ member didn’t have a voice.
That being so, we created a Membership Management Advisory Group that now has a cohort of 40-plus members who advise on key benefits and activity. One of their greatest achievements is the revision of our Special Interest Groups offer. Following a survey of the membership, 13 special interest topics were identified as being attractive to the members. This realised the reinforcement of several existing Special Interest Groups and the development of many more. Members can now identify with a focused group that’s addressing development in a narrow topic alongside the wider industry development.
To date, Special Interest Groups have been created to develop the following areas: the built environment, nuclear security, security education and training, business continuity, resilience and crisis management, close protection and travel security, CCTV and ‘tech’, cyber and heritage and faith. Many more are in the development stages.
Each Special Interest Group has terms of reference and governance applied to ensure that they’re working towards a common goal of competence and education.
Next Generation of Security
It’s widely acknowledged that our industry is dominated by second career military and police personnel. There will always be a place for such expertise, of course, but the time has come to address our shortcomings. We know that considering complex risks requires a diverse collection of opinions. When everyone giving their opinions emanates from similar backgrounds and training regimes, the output is more likely to be narrow and stagnant.
At The Security Institute, we have long debated the balance of gender, ethnicity and disability. None of these are well represented in the security industry. The fact is that, in today’s landscape, security is no longer about reactions to attacks in isolation. It’s about prevention and resilience as well. It has also become a connected/converged landscape wherein risks need to be considered in a broader spectrum.
We have also come to realise that the balances cannot be addressed adequately in the short term. We need to prepare for the next generation and inspire the teenagers of today to be the security leaders in ten, 15 and 20 years’ time. While we ‘home grow’ these capabilities, we can educate the teenagers that the industry is open for any sex and cultural background as well as catering for many disabilities because the industry is vast and covers every academic and labour skill conceivable.
On 28 November, the first group of young people (aged 16 to 18) will be welcomed to the International Security Expo and introduced to employment roles that require engineers, design technology, electronics, public protection and disaster response skills, etc. There are roles for the academic and non-academic. The youngsters will leave Olympia in London realising that, wherever they see their employable strengths taking them, there is a pathway in the security industry. This initiative will be hosted by all of the major security events in the UK. The next will be at held Security and Counter Terror Expo.
The initiative will be perennial, returning each year with a new cohort of teenagers. We’re now seeking more companies willing to reinforce interested individuals with a few days of work experience to really cement their plans.
Chartered Security Professionals
The Chartered Security Professional… It’s not a new concept and, hopefully, this isn’t the first time you’ve heard of it. Every plan must have a goal and, if professionalisation is your driver, the ‘Gold Standard’ should be Chartered status. The Charter is owned by The Worshipful Company of Security Professionals, but it’s The Security Institute that manages the qualification.
Both the Security Industry Authority and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure have recognised the standard as a strategic qualification. Applications can be submitted through the Institute or ASIS’ UK Chapter. It’s a personal qualification that recognises the highest levels of capability and ethical practice.
Never has there been a time where collaboration has been so active. Whether it be cyber, counter-terrorism or business crime, Government and the police are realising that they must seek to partner with the private security industry if they’re to really make an impact on countering future threats.
Plans are progressing and making a real difference, in turn improving research and driving the standards of protection beyond any results that could have been realised in their silos.
The Step Change Programme has developed multiple collaborative working groups that are each responsible for an aspect of business affected by terrorism. The National Business Crime Centre and the Police and Security Group Initiative, for example, are promoting closer working relationships between front line officers, the police and the business community. The results are remarkable.
The Security Industry Authority has been reinforced by the Home Office review of its licensing activity and is now engaging with its customers in every aspect of their business. It’s all about earning what the industry wants, listening to what the industry has to offer and leading with confidence to improve licencing, while also recognising good performance from businesses and individuals alike.
The Security Institute is involved in each and every one of these initiatives. It was in our plan to assist, connect experts and raise awareness of opportunities and be involved in all the collaborative activities on offer. The membership of this organisation has stepped up to the mark on every occasion.
More than a network
The Institute is more than a network. It’s more than education and development. The Security Institute has become the place where members gain access to the wider arena and projects that are not directly linked to their job. Those that engage inevitably raise their profile. The business that employs them gains recognition as a market leader.
The Institute raises standards and brings the collective skills of almost 3,000 people to bear on any given security problem and across every discipline of security.
If you wish to develop your skills and knowledge and meet and collaborate with professionals in order to be recognised as one of them, the solution is simple. Make sure you build engagement with The Security Institute into your current and future plans.
Rick Mounfield CSyP FSyI is CEO of The Security Institute