So. You want to be a Site Security Manager? By John Sephton

Earlier this year I put out a meme… Yes, I crossed that line. Here it is:

It was a tongue in cheek effort suggesting that getting into cryptocurrency was a lot like getting to, and remaining in, security management. But I feel the words are true to this day. So what can we do to ensure they don’t become a reality, and everybody is more informed and stays afloat?

I have started with the most common question I get asked:

Q: How do I get into site security management?

BRANDING, NETWORKING, KNOWLEDGE

Site Security Management is the first goal for every budding manned security professional who has started their journey into security. Every security officer or supervisor I have talked to mentions that one day they would like to get into site management eventually, and they are looking for advice on how to get there. They also ask what qualifications they may need? How to apply for the positions, what to do in an interview, what to take with them to their interviews and how did I get there?

I start by getting people to look at the available job roles that are advertised and ask, how much of it can you demonstrate? How much can you do? and what skills keep cropping up that you need to learn?

This is especially relevant when people are transitioning from the Forces into security, which is another article. Right now, we are concentrating on the grass roots security officer / supervisor getting into a management position.

The main thing is not to get stuck down on a site, or company, with no progression, and ask to get involved with projects to enhance your skillset. If there is no scope for progression and you are ambitious, get out there and be seen, be noticed and network. These opportunities very rarely get handed to you. You have to get out and seek them!

Branding

Gucci, Kellogg’s, McVities, Ferrari, Nestle, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn these are all household names in their respective fields. In the security industry, you must be a known entity in yours and the company in which you work for, then concentrate on the wider security community. Develop a niche, a style a way of working that defines who you are. Get on your senior managements radar and add value, some of the best advice I was given was “always act like the next level up and have integrity and standards”.


Your brand is you and you are your brand!

It’s the impression that remains after you leave, that makes you memorable to others. Paraphrased from Jeff Bezos: “If you are acting like the grey man and coasting, you’ll be lost in the sea of security officers and not be noticed for bigger things. You need people to say, “I know somebody who is perfect for this role because of XYZ” and then send the person or opportunity your way”.

Top tips:

  1. Be you. Just be the real you. Not the superficial business you, the you that you are daily. You have friends and they like and respond to you so why not in business too?
  2. Consistency is key. Do what you do well, do it large and do it noticeable. Don’t make promises you can’t keep and work at a higher level every day. Consistency drives results and people’s perception of you.
  3. Find your WHY! Simon Sinek said: “people don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.” They will always opt for more informed and passionate, over anything else.
  4. Online Presence. Start your own blog, website or dominate your own LinkedIn space and contribute to groups. Get noticed as a contributor and start discussions, leave replies, and help people. Write articles on things in your field and publish them, Amazon even lets you self-publish.

Networking

This is another skill, or necessary evil, that all security professionals need to embrace. Yes, it is awkward, and yes, I get it isn’t everybody’s thing, but to get on you need to get out and go to these events. There are various events you can go to and the City of London Crime prevention meetings are great. The Security Institute host some great networking events which are formal and informal, and I am sure a quick internet search will bring up such events.

A little suggestion: If you do go networking, get some business cards made up and potentially have a QR code for your LinkedIn account. (There is a big feature elsewhere in this edition that looks at this area in detail……..Ed.) I am sure LinkedIn has a nearby feature where you switch it on and it locates the nearest person with the same function on.

Top tips:

  1. Always be polite, professional and humble when you are first starting out. Introduce yourself and listen. Remain professional and ask questions where appropriate and say its your first time at an event. You will be surprised at who is willing to guide or introduce you to people once they know it is your first time.
  2. Don’t be a wall flower. You are there to meet people, and unfortunately, being out of your comfort zone comes with the territory. Try talking to the other wall flowers then make a team to venture into the abyss and start a conversation with somebody.
  3. Be natural and patient. The more relaxed you are when meeting someone, the better the interaction. Just be yourself and you will find people respond to the genuine you. Networking takes time and eventually it will pay off. But once you start collecting business cards of new contacts, try not to inundate them constantly with requests for coffee and meetups. Just keep it cool and calm and things will happen. The more you attend these events the more people you will know when you get there.

Knowledge

The words “what course should I take to get into security management” come out of every mentee mouth I have had the privilege to guide. My answer is this:

Make sure any management course you take is accredited. Don’t waste your money on courses that cost £30-60 and expect the contents to rock your world or employers to know what they are. Those short courses are good for guidance, but a real qualification will have accreditation by a reputable organisation. The even better courses will have university credits attached to them so pick wisely, and always check the content to see if it strikes a chord. I would go as far as suggest having a cyber element as the world is progressing and the management of security is changing all the time.

Please note this next bit, because it is really Important…

If you have significant experience in the industry, you can go straight to a master’s degree”

I wasn’t informed of this gem of information until I was 2.5 years into a Bsc, had I known this I would have completed a MSc first, but my discovery is now your guidance. I started my BSc at 30yrs old, so you are never too old to start, again this was because I researched and wasn’t guided. There are various options for student loans, but some people are figuring out a personal loan has a better APR than a traditional loan, but research carefully.

Another course I would potentially look into is a business continuity course, the BCI (business continuity Institute) do an in depth course in this area and covers the process behind it. When you pass this course, you get the post nominals of CBCI. More employers are looking at business continuity as an add on to their security management needs. These courses do carry a cost and if you start off with an introductory course you can use it as a stepping stone in professional development and list it on your CV as such.

To summarise: Getting into security management can be a minefield, but once you are there, it is down to you, but you aren’t alone. Learn, ask questions, network and navigate through your career how you want it. Be the sheep who is constantly jumping up and down in the pack and get noticed. Publish articles, raise your profile, write things for your companies’ magazine. Anything that raises your profile is great. Also, review job adverts for the roles you want, for the skills you need to work on, and work on them! The jobs are there. The opportunities are there. You need to be prepared to go for what you want, learn from setbacks and do not give up.

John Sephton MSyI


John Sephton MSyI

John is a Senior Security Manager, business continuity and risk professional, with 18 years experience. Specialising in improving, managing and innovating security contracts, he is a finalist for the prestigious OSPAs, ‘Outstanding Security Manager’ 2018 award.
Innovation is always top of his agenda, as is empowering teams to work smarter. He is also an active member of the Security Institute sitting on the Validation Board and is responsible for the Young Members Committee, social media output.