TPSO Newsletter Edition 1: An interview with Darryn Robbins MSyl

Hi Darryn, thank you for taking to time to help our readers by answering some questions. You leveraged your early experience in the security industry to eventually go on and set up a specialist recruitment and consultancy agency, Lima44 Ltd. How much value do you think experience in the industry, and working your way up through the ranks, adds to the service that you provide?


 
Darryn: I am a firm believer in experience as it cements working knowledge of specific best practices within our industry and allows us to move away from the “it has always been that way” ethos. Experience coupled with professional development such as vocational learning, seminars and institution membership allows a more professional career path, whilst also ensuring that our industry continues to drive forward security as a professional career choice that many industry leaders are aiming for. With margins being driven down by buyers of security, security providers need to be able to offer strong remuneration packages and a good work/life balance to retain their best employees. If you build a strong foundation of employees who have an ability to progress through the ranks, not only do you create a strong workforce that understand more areas of your business, you also build an engaged work force who can see career progression. Therefore, it lowers attrition and offers your clients a best in-class service – this can set you apart from your competitors.
 
What would you say the biggest challenges a client looking to recruit security managers faces’ today, and what challenges might they face in say 10 years time?
 
Remuneration. As security professionals ranging from front line security officers right through to the executive management team, security providers need to ensure that they offer the most experienced and qualified individuals to deliver their services. In order to do this, more and more security providers are looking to recruit those with university degrees or qualifications that sit within the framework for higher educational qualifications (FHEQ). University education is a large investment to individuals and to businesses that support their employees with professional development. Individuals that have invested in these qualifications, and indeed other security related qualifications such as CSMP, ISMI etc need to recoup their outlay.

I have recently seen “large” suppliers of security guarding offering just £35,000 per annum for a Regional Operations Manager who would have operational and strategic oversight for almost £3m of security provision, working a 60 hr week with most of this time being away from home – in my opinion, this is not a salary that represents a professional industry, 10 years ago, when I first left the military and embarked on my career within the security industry, there were roles offering this same remuneration for a supervisor working a 42 hour week. With the collapse of Carillion and the recent woes of Interserve, as well as the recent sell of VSG to Mitie, the drive to win business, at whatever cost, will only result in security providers looking at ways to reduce costs and one of the biggest costs being salary.

With the ever-increasing requirement and understanding for converged security there will need to be a shift in remuneration. If an individual has technical expertise, coupled with front line security experience, no longer will a below market salary be accepted. Positively this will require providers of security having to look at alternative ways to retain their trained and qualified employees which will have a great impact on our industry.

Would you agree with the general consensus that clients will be looking for degree qualified candidates for managerial roles?

I don’t always believe that this is the client’s decision. The need for degree qualified individuals working within management is a way for security providers to offer a best in-class service above their competitors. The introduction of the apprenticeship levy has allowed security providers to offer their employees nationally recognised qualifications within chosen fields specific to their sector, which has had a huge impact on our industry due to reduced profit margins. With NVQ qualifications ranging from Level 2 to Level 7 being on offer, this has also identified a different type of student who only needs to commit their personal time instead of the financial implications. The Apprenticeship Levy is a fantastic initiative that can only improve the professionalism of the security industry by offering higher academia for those willing and able to commit their time.

What are the advantages of a candiate approaching a smaller company like Lima44 Ltd?
 
I have been extremely fortunate within my career and have only had three different employers. I served with H.M Forces as a Royal Military Police Officer for nine years and secured a new role within manned guarding before I had left the Military. I then remained with that specific company (Knightsbridge Guarding Ltd) for ten years where I was extremely happy with my career progression and growth for a majority of those years.

When the time came to seek alternative employment, I made 217 applications via various recruitment web sites, agencies etc and only received a response from two individuals both of which were recruitment agencies. This was extremely frustrating and made me feel I was wasting my time. I have also experienced companies advising me of roles that were not real positions, which I can only assume, when I was contacted several months later for another role, was to hunt for CV’s – this type of practice needs to stop.

Personally, I found that larger recruitment companies have the network with their clients but have little or no time to respond to candidates that they feel do not meet the requirements, or perhaps their recruitment software algorithm hasn’t identified the correct wording in their CV. This is resulting in extremely experienced, competent and qualified individuals missing out on opportunities.

With Lima44 we speak with every candidate that applies to us via our webpage or via the various social media platforms we have, and we build a rapport with the individual. By taking a personal approach we are able to identify skills and attributes they have, which has proved successful to date, as we genuinely know our candidates. Lima44 have also purposefully ensured that our recruitment strategy isn’t too wide and varied. We specialise in front line security and human resources and at this stage we do not deviate from this. That’s not to say we say no to candidates who haven’t got this experience, as their skills may be suitable elsewhere (as has recently been the case with a placement we have made) but we deeply understand front line security and having risen through the ranks of security I am aware of what to look for in those I have recruited (very successfully) previously.
 
There is a lot of competition for security management positions. I’m personally aware of a number of cases where people have speant a lot of time and money to gain qualifications but who have still not gained the strategic advantage that gets them the more high profile positions. What advise would you give candiates when it comes to training and experience?
 
Experience has always been key for me when interviewing individuals for various roles, if this can be complimented with academia or a training qualification then it makes it easier for the individual hiring. Development both personally and professionally will allow our industry to be seen as a career choice rather than a stop gap.

The security industry offers such a wide and varied selection of career choices that are open to all walks of life. There are some fantastic security providers and in-house security teams who offer great opportunities to enhance your professional development. I am keen to watch how the Next Generation initiative progresses with The Security Institute. This initiative gives individuals, such as school leavers, an opportunity to understand our industry and see it as the career that it should be. More often than not “security” is seen as the supermarket security officer and not the career opportunities that really are open within our industry.

I am also an avid supporter of mentoring. I have personally had a strong mentor throughout my career who has always been there when I needed guidance. Their knowledge was invaluable and their support in my various roles has helped me immensely in becoming the individual and leader I am today. Professionally through Lima44, within previous roles and most recently through my involvement with The Security Institute, I believe that mentoring those who are seeking guidance at the early stages of their career is pivotal to their success and ensures that we share best practice and legislation, which further professionalises our industry. I am studying for an MSc in Security and Risk Management through Leicester University and find that the academia offers theory behind the experience I possess, making my decisions more credible as a security professional. Theory, experience and a willingness to listen and learn are the fundamental principles to ensuring that as we move forward in our industry, we as individuals and the security industry itself, become more professional.

Darryn Robbins – Managing Director

Having spent 10 year’s working within the City of London with one of London’s most prestigious manned guarding providers, Darryn has held several senior operational posts leading some of the largest security accounts in the U.K encompassing public, private, finance, media and corporate sector clients. His specialities and qualifications are focused within manned guarding, risk management, health and safety, GDPR and strategic & tactical leadership.

In 2008 Darryn transitioned from the British Army where he spent 9 years serving as a Royal Military Policeman operating in both hostile and peace-keeping environments. During his time within the British Army, Darryn gained vast experience in management, communication and leadership which he was able to utilise within his career to date.

One of his passions is looking to aspire others within their chosen field whilst consistently raising standards within the Security Industry by ensuring those he has actively recruited or worked alongside are given the right opportunities to progress in their careers, furthermore he has vast experience in providing support to those transitioning from H.M Forces into civilian life and securing roles that allow service leavers to utilise their skills and experience gained within their military career.

For further information on Darryn’s skills and experience, please visit his LinkedIn page at www.linkedin.com/in/darrynrobbinslima44