Corporate Security: The quieter professionals

Tony Security Leave a Comment

This week I want to talk about the higher end of the security market. It’s an area I have worked quite a bit in over the past 18 years both in the hospitality and corporate environments. I recently spent some time designing security policies for a luxury hotel and have just this week trained with one of the best corporate security teams in the country. This level really is a different beast and it has to be treated as such. Not everybody can do it and not everybody will enjoy doing it. It can however be lucrative for security operatives when done correctly and there are some excellent opportunities to develop within it. 

What is corporate security?

Corporate security is any area where security is provided to a corporate or executive level customer. This could be in a workplace setting such as financial services, technology or government sectors. It can also be in a leisure capacity such as luxury hotel security or conference centres. The difference between corporate and many other security roles is usually the level of financial investment by the customer or organisation in the security function and the level of expected service which runs alongside this investment. 
For example if I am paying a large amount of money to be at a corporate conference I expect a commensurate level of security while I am there. Similarly for many large multinational companies who invest heavily in security they expect a high level of service from their security team. Compare this with a venue who hired security based solely on the cheapest cost and you see the difference in service provision. 


Corporate Security Ethos


My aim when providing corporate or executive level security training is that ‘security should be felt and not seen’ . What I mean by this is that customer and staff should feel safe and secure and know that there is a security presence in place if it is needed. That security presence should not be obvious, intrusive or get in the way of the client or customer. Security should be streamlined to fit seamlessly in with other functions. Sometimes this means having less hard access controls than we as security professionals would like to have but enhanced soft controls to balance the issue. What I mean by this is that we have less locked doors and physical barriers in general. We replace this with vigilant staff, technology systems and advance verification systems. These steps ensure that the customers or employees who we are given to secure can gain access and move freely without too much obvious infringement by security. If the need arises however, security are in a position to step in at any point to identify, deter and manage those who appear out of place or not to be allowed access. 
This approach to security requires staff to be highly trained, exceptionally vigilant and excellent communicators. Not all security staff can operate with this level of communication skills and awareness and as such this role isn’t for everybody. There is also a downside to the role which makes it unsuitable for some. That is that the role can be quite sterile and boring and may not involve a  lot of interaction with the public or other staff. This can be difficult for some who come from areas such as doors or retail where informal chats are regular and even encouraged. The lack of activity and interaction can lead to boredom which in turn can lead to complacency. When there aren’t as many hard access levels to fall back on then complacency can be disastrous for a corporate security function. All it takes is a single breach to cause untold reputation damage to the establishment. 


Reputation management



The essence of providing corporate and executive level security is reputation management. Where we normally discuss safeguarding assets such as goods, information or people in security,  the greatest asset for corporate bodies is their reputation. Protecting this reputation requires tact and discretion. It also takes a significant amount of restraint and patience at times. There will be times where highly confidential meetings, information sharing  and visitors will pass through and security must ensure that they are handled discreetly and professionally. There will also be times when people who present a threat to the venues reputation present themselves. These should also be handled with discretion and care. In the social media society which now exists the sight of a corporate security team being heavy handed or excessive with members of the public can be hugely detrimental to a venues reputation. It only has to happen once for it to have a long lasting effect. The ability to deal with potential or escalating situations quietly and efficiently often takes a lot of restraint (not the physical type) from security staff. It often requires quick thinking and outside the box problem solving to mitigate potential public damage to the venues brand or indeed harm the business by damaging a client relationship. Both of these are at the core of what corporate businesses are built on and are at the very top of the risk register.


Corporate security operatives


We have already discussed the discretion  and tact attributes of corporate security as essential qualities. There is however much more. The security operatives must have excellent standards of appearance and be able to blend in with both the backdrop of the location and its customers and staff. They also have to trustworthy and be able to maintain very high levels of confidentiality. Due to the type of technology used to assist in soft access control the security operative also has to be quite technology capable and able to use and understand these systems. They also have to be physically fit not due to the physical exercise or manual labour involved but for the ability to remain standing or on patrol and alert for long days and/or nights. All of these attributes mean that not every person is suited to the role. It isn’t as easy as standing around a lobby or a gatehouse and looking pretty all day. 


Summary

Corporate security can be a good gig. It can very quickly turn into a good career as well. From my experience in both the luxury hotel and multinational company perspective there is plenty of opportunity to earn good money and develop in the industry. The reality is that you will work hard  for it though. There will be awkward employees, egos, and difficult issues to deal with as there are in any security role. They just need to be dealt with in a slightly quieter way. Like any area of security there are those who will be good at it and those who wont. Its no better or worse than any other area of security in terms of ability or job satisfaction. Its just different and those entering this sector need to be aware of it. 

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