At TPSO we love success stories!
It is always great to hear about men and women who quite literally start from the bottom and rise to the very upper most ranks of the Security Industry. When we find these people, we tend to lock them in a room and refuse to let them out until they have told us their story and the secrets of their success…
TPSO Interview with: Rob Kennedy BA(Hons) MSyI.
TPSO: What lead you to enter the security industry in the first place?
Rob: A combination of many things. I used to work in the Night Time economy. I worked for a brewery and went in to problem pubs as a landlord to “tidy them up”. I have also studied martial arts since I was 6 years old, so it all just converged together. The security work I ended up doing in pubs, combined with my martial arts background naturally lead me towards the security work.
TPSO: What were your first roles in Security?
Rob: I did static security on building sites and event security. I started at the bottom basically, which is great because when I talk to my security officers now, they can’t believe that I started off doing just what they are doing!
TPSO: It seems that you have put a lot of effort in to self development throughout your career. What drives you?
Rob: I have a thirst for knowledge, and I’ve been catching up for what I didn’t do at school. When I started my adult training qualifications I realised that school had failed me, or that I had failed school. There’s only one learning style in school and I was always looking out of the window. I imagine that a lot in the security industry are the same as well. I didn’t enjoy learning until my early 20s.
TPSO: How did you find the attitude of the people you worked with in your early days in security?
Rob: On building sites, I was working alone a lot of the time, but when I started doing event security, I hit lucky because the camaraderie, the team ethic and the culture was really really strong and really really good. That stuck with me from the beginning. If you get the culture right you are two thirds of the way there! This is what I love about SecuriGroup, everyone pulls in the same direction. It’s a joy to behold. (Any more plugs and we’ll have to invoice them for advertising….Ed.)
TPSO: You spent a lot of your early career doing close protection work. How did you get in to that?
Rob: Through my martial arts, and I was for a while a professional driver, making me a handy guy to have on a team. I also chose a great CP training course. There were only a few back then and they were for a full month, sadly unlike today. I also had a few contacts that were ex military that got me in to my first few jobs.
TPSO: Are there any stories from that time that you are allowed to tell us about?
Rob: It’s not meant to be interesting. Boring is good in CP work. There are huge challenges, but you are there to turn mountains in to mole hills. You sometimes have to deal with ‘fixated’ individuals, which is always a challenge, never underestimate them! Or you might just be protecting the image of the principle. I’ve had the odd occasion where we have had to revert to plan B, or even plan C. In London, transport often causes an issue. I’ve had to take some hugely recognisable faces on the ‘Tube’ before. Luckily people in London don’t notice anything, so as long as you are discrete and the principle knows what is required of them, it works well. By the time anyone realises who they are, they have gone.
TPSO: When did you decide to study for a degree and what motivated you?
Rob: Round about 2010, I believe that part of the ACS compliance process at the time, stated that all security managers, without Police or Military experience, had to hold, or be working towards a foundation degree. I looked around at the available courses and eventually I chose the Security & Risk Management course at Leicester University.
TPSO: How did you find the course and what was hard and what came easy for you?
Rob: Honestly? The FDA (Foundation course) I hated about three quarters of it! It was a real struggle. Time management was a huge issue. The security industry is not 9-5, probably not even as little as a 48 hour week. Trying to get to grips with academic writing and trying to think critically, just the whole academic thinking was new and strange. My highest qualification to that point was probably my Close Protection qualification, that was level 3. Suddenly going to level 4 and level 5 and upwards is a big ask. Towards the end of the FDA I starting to like it. When I realised that I could use the knowledge in the workplace. Basic criminology and such, are things I could put in to practical operation to make working life better and easier. It all just seemed to click into place.
At this point I decided that it would be stupid NOT to go on and gain the full BA degree. It was only an extra 18 months of study. I always said that if I get the BA degree, I don’t need anything else after that…. But the learning bug bites! I had about a 6 month gap, then decide to carry on and study for my Masters Degree.
TPSO: How did you juggle work and study?
Rob: Social life goes out of the window. Any social life I had would have been poor as I was spending what little money I had on books anyway. It’s just about making sacrifices. You are in at weekend studying. Keeping your mind on the goal!
TPSO: So now you are going for a Masters degree. What are you studying and why?
Rob: As things were going so well, I just decided to continue at the University of Leicester, on the Security and Risk Management course. I want to go as far as I can. It’s a personal issue now. Mainly to prove my school teachers wrong! Personal pride as well.
A few years ago there was a high level table top meeting in London, that I attended, and I felt out of my depth. I’ve been in many such meeting since, and I’m not out of my depth any more!
TPSO: We met at a Security Institute function. What motivated you to join the SyI and what do you feel you are getting out of your membership?
Rob: I discovered the Security Institute via the University of Leicester. On our course we received free student membership. I would recommend anyone doing any kind of academic study in this field to join the Security Institute and try it out. It’s a great way to see what is going on in the wider security industry. I attended numerous Professional Development events and it is a good networking opportunity. I really can’t hold the Security Institute in any higher regard than I do. The CPD scheme is THE way to evidence professional development as far as I’m concerned.
TPSO: I know you have a major new role at a very high profile client with your new employer, SecuriGroup (Just stop it now!…. Ed.) what is your new role?
Rob: We have just mobilised a huge new London contract which we are looking to stabilise and build upon now. It’s a really good opportunity as I’m currently working with the client to provide a new residential training package. Staff are going to be taken away for a couple of days to receive some absolutely top notch training.
TPSO: If you could go back to the start of you security career, would you do anything differently?
Rob: I was forced on to the academic bandwagon because of the compliance issue. In retrospect, I would have liked to have started my academic studies much earlier. The value of learning can’t be overestimated.
TPSO: Once you have completed your Masters degree in 2019, what are you plans or aims?
Rob: Simple really. I believe knowledge is to be shared so I will try and pass that down through to my staff and clients, to make their lives easier, and operations more secure. Obviously I’ll try and convey my knowledge to my employer to help them provide the best possible standard of service. I just want to give it back. It isn’t “my little secret”. It has to be shared.
TPSO: Can you give 3 pieces of advice to someone just starting on the Front Line in the Security Industry today?
1) Do not impose barriers upon yourself. Don’t think that because you are from a civilian background, that you can’t do things you think are best suited to ex Police or Military. Break through the barriers!
2) Always look to develop yourself and keep evidence of that development. Even doing some kind of small course every year or something to that effect, to put on your CV to demonstrate that you are continuously moving forward, and improving. That always looks good when I look through Cvs…
3) Look for a company that genuinely values you as a person! It feels good to be a part of an organisation that you know values the individual. (NO. I refuse to mention SecuriGroup again…. Ed.)
TPSO: Can you please put a good word in with you HR Dept for me? (Seriously?….. My office!……. Ed.)
Rob: Um? Possibly…. .
But any genuine professional out there that wants to talk, see the website: www.securigroup.co.uk
Rob Kennedy is a motivated and determined security professional currently studying the MSc in Security and Risk Management with the University of Leicester. Rob is a regional Manager with SecuriGroup, an engaged member of the Security Institute, and a growing voice in the UK physical security industry.