TPSO Newsletter Edition 1: Security Manager, how to future proof your career by Michael O’Sullivan

Professional development is now an essential aspect of career development. If Security personnel wish to be viewed as professional, they must demonstrate continuous learning or risk being left behind. They owe it to themselves and those they protect to be educated and operationally effective in equal measure

Rick Mounfield CSyP FSyI, Chief Executive The Security Institute

If you are serious about pursuing a career in security management then you need to be very serious about future proofing it. There is a plethora of qualifications available and the unwary can spend a lot of time and money training for them, yet still be unable attain the better management positions.

To be viable a qualification needs to be recognised, durable and portable.

Cutting to the chase, a degree from a UK university easily meets this criteria. You won’t have to explain to any potential employer what obtaining a degree involved, and any employer would accept that it represents effort and ability on the part of the holder.

Combined with industry, police, military or EMS experience and you have a potentially winning combination! So, when looking at training make recognised, durable and portable your watch words! There ARE NO quick and easy shortcuts to a security managers job.

Security manager is an incredibly responsible job. It follows that the person in that job needs to be able to meet those challenges.

Insider threats, theft, fire safety, health and safety, violence, vandalism, criminal damage, terrorism, police, local authority and statutory authority liaison, staff training, hiring and yes, firing, maintaining moral, reporting to the board and shareholders, threat awareness, risk assessment and much, much more, form part of the modern security managers responsibilities.

If the above list represents a challenge to you, then read on! People not up to the challenge will have stopped reading by now and gone back to the funny pages and slagging everyone else off on Facebook!

Obviously, an employer will want to know what qualifications a person has. Increasingly they are also asking what kind of person has those qualifications?

It is not all about training and knowledge. You will need strong interpersonal and people management skills, an ability to function effectively under pressure and the ability to make and implement decisions in the face of changing demands. You will need to be able to think on your feet and have the confidence to make decisions without the luxury of having the full facts.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. The problem of course is that we only benefit from it when its too late!

Bottom line, when the crap hits the fan the security manager is the one person who will be expected to step up and take charge!

I have fond memories of the building manager who never had a good thing to say about his security team, we were expensive and he didn’t see the need. That changed the day there was a serious problem, the building manager panicked and was running around like the proverbial headless chicken. The hated security manager and their team responded as trained (and practised) and things ended well.

The relationship between security team and building manager went from strength to strength from that point forward. It was noted that in order to respond effectively to the situation the entire security team ignored instructions from the building manager and followed our training. If we hadn’t the incident could have ended very badly.

There is no quick fix, but probably a mix of academic qualifications and professional certifications is the way to go. There are many worthwhile options but the ASIS International suite of globally recognised Certifications APP, PCI, PSP and CPP validate your security management expertise and elevate your stature in the profession, and the ASIS Certification Survey – April 2019, shows that ASIS certificants earn an average of 20% higher salaries than those without an ASIS certification. The IFPO ( CPO certification can also be a good place to start

Mike Hurst CPP FIRP MSyI, Director HJA Consult Ltd. – Mike is a Director of HJA Fire & Security Recruitment and co-founder of He is the Vice Chairman of ASIS International UK Chapter and a former Director of the Security Institute. He also sits on the BSI GQ/3 Committee. Mike is an Internationally respected and recognised thought leader and influencer in the security arena

We had an excellent security manager with many years command experience in the military, used to responding instantly to critical situations and fully aware of the benefits of ongoing training and preparation.

This is where we can start looking at people’s histories. Someone runs into the building and shouts that someone is outside with what looks like a petrol bomb. What kind of security manager do you want responding to that? Do you have procedures in place and have you practised them?

Ex-military, police and other emergency services may already have all these skills and experiences due to the nature of their jobs. Someone with a background in door supervision or retail security will have experience of responding quickly to sudden situations and other transferable skills. The list goes on.

Not all management positions are client facing however, so if interpersonal skills are not the best, this need not be a problem. If your strengths lie in access control or other office based skills you’ll spend most of your time at a PC, surveying equipment and communicating via email, producing reports and dealing with auditors.

Consider the access control problems that an organisation with thousands of employees face and you’ll see the potential for a ‘niche’ career. Its a very responsible and important skill.

Interpersonal skills aside, modern security managers are expected to be excellent communicators. Its no longer all about written reports and attending meetings. You may be expected to prepare presentations and video materials as staff education with a view to enhancing an organisations security culture by hardening the target from the inside out.

Critical thinking is vitally important. University training places a lot of emphasis on this.

I asked one training provider about the lack of a critical thinking focus on their course. The response was classic – I’m paraphrasing:

“yeah we don’t teach that new age rubbish mate”

Considering that critical thinking is the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue to form a judgement and, in the security managers case, form a plan of action, I don’t see anything new age about it at all. It is an essential skill, one which can be developed.

Security managers will develop views that need to be conveyed and they may find themselves needing to bring other people around to their way of thinking. Objectivity comes with research and analysis, cornerstones of critical thinking; strong opinions are often formed based on little or no knowledge.

In the workplace, when decisions count, its obvious what skill set we’d expect our security manager to have.

And your qualifications are not for today’s job market, you need to ask yourself where you will be in 10 years’ time? Hence recognised, durable and portable!

The security industry is mobilising itself behind the banner of professionalism. It is taking giant strides forwards. Security organisations are increasingly cooperating, sharing information, knowledge and experience and developing best practise approaches. The Security Institutes Next Generation in Security Initiative has already launched, other initiatives are in the pipeline.

The security industry faces many problems, internal and external. Employers often complain that they have trouble finding the right candidates. Some of this comes down to remuneration and retention. If you are not prepared to pay market rates, then it stands to reason that you are going to have problems recruiting. That aside recruitment is a challenge in all sectors of the industry.

My top tip here is to look at those employers who see security as an investment and not just an expense that they have to bear.

While a university degree and experience will put your CV at the top of the queue in many cases, obtaining one does take time, energy and money! They can be very expensive!

Fortunately for us in the security industry there are University accredited courses that shortcut the process and which can represent very significant savings in time and finances.

The Silverback Security Academy offer such a route. On their home page they state:

The Certificate and Diploma in Security Management are the first and second years of a three year course providing access to a degree level qualification for security professionals.

Dr Alison Wakefield FSyI, Chairman of the Security Institute has contributed an explanation about University Accreditation.

So, if you are serious about your career and future proofing it, find employers that invest in security and make recognised, durable and portable your criteria when investing in your own training!