The close protection and executive protection industry in Ireland #My Opinion
This week is another guest article from a good friend and colleague (Lets call him ‘ Michael)’. Michael is one of the few people who work operationally in close protection both in Ireland and further afield on a daily basis. He kindly agreed to write a number of short articles for me on close protection in Ireland and some aspects of it that people need to be aware of before paying out large amounts of money on training. I would by no means call myself an expert on close protection but it is an area I have worked in and continue to work in on a semi-regular basis. I’ll let ‘Michael’ tell his story here and as usual I’ll jump in with my unwanted opinion in these coloured boxes from time to time. – Tony
I have been involved in the Security Industry in Ireland in various roles for over 23 years. I remember the first role like it was yesterday. I was 17yrs old, had no formal training, no induction to the venue, no medical knowledge and no idea of what was lying ahead for me. The security sector was a way of earning extra money for me while I was in full time education studying Construction Engineering. I was lucky enough to have a quick aptitude for the requirements of making a good door supervisor and quickly found my feet within the industry. I was never short of work. Networking was a key factor for mein those early days as I learned my trade.
Door supervision work was in my opinion a valuable learning ground for skills that I would later need when I progressed into the Close/Executive Protection Sector. Time Keeping, communication skills, situational awareness, ethics, medical skills, report writing, clothing standards and being prepared with the right equipment (equipment for grab bags).
In 2009, I took the next step in my career when I completed my SIA Close Protection training with NIBSSS and Dougie Durrant in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. The instructors were former British Military and PSNI CPU (Close Protection Unit) operatives who had operational experience in close protection theatres while serving and in the civilian sector both in a domestic and international setting.
The hard part
Once I obtained my licence, my next objective was to find work. This part was easier said than done. The debate will always run, civilian or military. I have worked with both in various theatres, the bottom line is this. In my opinion; there are some exceptionally good civilian operatives as well as military ones. There are some operatives from both backgrounds who I wouldn’t leave to ensure ice melts in the desert as they would find a problem with it. Start at the bottom and work up. Easy. You will learn valuable skills which will be advantageous to you further up the ladder.
There are a few things that will ensure that you get work in this sector of the industry,
- skill set,
- how you sell yourself on paper as well as in person
- a wee bit of luck.
I completely agree with ‘Michael’ on these points. I’ve met some brilliant ex military people doing close protection work. I’ve also met some brilliant people with civilian backgrounds on the job and some from both who were extremely incompetent. The point on building skill set is essential. You have to be constantly upgrading your hard and soft skills.This is what sells your services, especially for those who CAN’T rely on military or police experience. – Tony
Networking is key. Its not what you know but who you know. I have been fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time and made the right impression on those who could make things happen. Making the right impression first time round is vital. You only get one chance. HNWI (High Net Worth Individuals), VIP (Very Important People) and others who need protection are constantly watching. You look bad makes them look bad.
Ireland is a closed shop when it comes to close/executive protection work. There is work happening on a daily basis in Ireland and no doubt with Brexit happening there is potential for a lot more BUT unfortunately this work is only entrusted to a select few who have vast experience in this field and who have the trust of those who make the wheels turn. It takes time, investment and hard work to break into that circle for anybody starting.
To those who think the close/executive protection industry is all about fast cars, cameras, glitz and black sunglasses I’m sorry to disappoint you but its an industry where you need to be not seen or heard but have capacity to be there when you are needed. Application of the 6Ps (prior preparation and planning prevents poor performance) and the “ The Grey man” approach are essential skills. The reality of the job is 95% boredom and 5% action. It can be 18 hour days, eating on the go, trying to obtain information from staff members who are afraid to give it to you as they think they don’t need you. Planning for possible issues and how to solve them and trying to keep abreast of events which may affect your clients image and reputation, All of this while working on your tablet, drinking a coffee and getting the chauffeur driver to do what you need and not what they think is best.
We will do a separate article on the Grey man concept in a few weeks, Basically it’s the ability to be present but unseen and blend into your environment. An important concept in this area. I can also support Michael’s opinion on the less glamorous side of the business such as energy bars and coffee for dinner and 18 hours on ‘halls and walls’ duty. – Tony
Everything in this article is just my opinion and yours may be different. I’ve tried to explain the reality rather than the myths. If it’s something that Tony’s readers are interested in, I will gladly write some more. Thank you for taking the time to read my story.