Updated: Jan 4
In the security industry there is a stigma and the stigma is this, if you are not an ex-service member of whatever background, you are relegated to the bottom of the pile with no view to the top positions.
In the past this would have been true, and ex-services used to employ ex-services for one of two reasons. First the familiarity of another service person, cap badge or knowing them and 2 they understand the rigid management techniques used in the forces and the varying hierarchical structures.
Time however has moved on, and now the security industry as progressed from the boots on the ground, to a more business orientated, FM style service. The rigid controls of a military style management structure are still around in places, but for most, there is a fluid management style of inclusion rather than dictation. Security teams whether external or in-house are being accepted as part of the FM world rightly or wrongly, and this is for now is where the security industry calls home.
So to answer the question (in my opinion) of how do I get on?
Pretty simple really, it is a mixture of know your industry and know their industry. You cannot be a security professional with no business acumen or business skills, not at the moment anyway. The requirement to be knowledgeable across a broad remit of security professionalisms and business etiquettes are paramount here. To delve into these areas you can take small micro courses in business to understand ledgers and costs and smaller courses to recap on certain elements of security management.
Security management knowledge is another key area and it isn't just a knowledge of how to put officers on post and rotate them every hour. If it were this then this is just logistics and you would be a logistics officer and not a security management professional. To be a true security professional you need to read periodicals, articles, books, attend courses and enhance your overall knowledge. Study crisis management, risk management, cyber security, the ISO's, the British Standards, the PSIA (private security act). Touch on health and safety and how it applies to the industry you are in, crime mapping, staff flow in buildings, counter terrorism etc. Understand what you require and then understand your clients business too.
I have mentioned this time and time again but you need to network at your company, online, build a social media presence, write for magazines, ask questions, tell your bosses you would like to be promoted (important). Get your career development on their radar because if you do not say then people will not know what your plans are.
Progression in the manned guarding area is down to business knowledge, client management, security knowledge and personality. I am not suggesting to run out and get yourself an MBA, or get in thousands of pounds of student debt that would be silly, unless you want to then that is fine. What I am suggesting is doing a few courses to enhance your knowledge in the business world so when the conversation starts you are not lost wondering what they are talking about with a glazed over look.
There is a cross over between when having a security knowledge requirement transfers to becoming a more business knowledge and that is when you leave site operations. Once you have left your site based role and become a part of the wild world of account management the gloves are off, and the spot light is on you. You are no longer being paid for and have become a cost on the bottom line of a company with already tight margins, so ensure you are providing a service and not a cost.
Enhance your business knowledge through micro-courses
Read articles, books and write on security management
Subscribe to business leadership articles like Harvard Business Review
Look at the job advertisements and the skills advertised and see where your knowledge is lacking
If you want professional qualifications check out Silverback Security Academy, Security Institute, University of Portsmouth. Just an FYI here, you can go straight on to a Masters if you have enough professional experience.
Make your aspirations heard in the company