Exclusive: Security from around the world – Part 11


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In the eleventh instalment of the series, Matthew Porcelli, CPP catches up with ASIS International United Kingdom Chapter members who share their personal and regional insights and expertise for success for young security professionals, women in security and transitioning military/law enforcement in the UK private security sector:

  • Letitia Emeana CPP, PSP – ASIS United Kingdom Chair/Board of Director & Executive Officer
  • Arevika Stepanian – ASIS United Kingdom Chapter DE&I Director
  • Tim Molden – ASIS United Kingdom Chapter Board Director of Membership & Awards
  • Richard Brooks – ASIS United Kingdom Chapter NextGen Board Director

A message from the Chair (Letitia):

ASIS UK aims to “Grow, Retain & Support” all members and we use these pillars to guide our resources and budget. We operate with primary Board positions of Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer and Secretary; however, the working groups and key momentum is driven by our Board Directors in the blow domains:

Industry Liaison – operates CPE days, works with sponsors and industry to ensure educational content, industry bodies and security sectors are aware of ASIS UK

Membership & Awards – is the liaison with our membership on making the welcome when we have new joiners, liaises with membership if they become on hold members, reaches out to members when the achieve certification and develops initiatives to help members achieve maximum value from their membership with “how to” advice.

Comms & Marketing – is the central role of governing the messages, content and cohesion between our media partners our membership E-News and social media platform. Develop connections with events teams and merchandise. This is a fundamental role to ensure the regularity, transparency and awareness continues to be harmonious, consistent and professional.

Education, Training & Development – this involves the development of awareness of the ASIS certifications, the benefits of professionalisation, the training requirements and outreach to keep members aware of how to develop, what ASIS offers and grow the numbers of membership who retain the membership post certification and continue to support the value statement propositions.

In our Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity dimension we have a dedicated Board Director for Next Gen (Formerly Young Professionals) who you will hear from below and the wider ED&I Director who will also comment below.

With these roles we operate successfully four seasonal seminars, many smaller ASIS networking events and attendance to industry events, expos and charity partners.

ASIS UK has also begun to develop a Transitions Program to support military and law enforcement personnel into the security industry. It is commonly, currently believed that with a military or police background, corporate security is an “easy” transition to undertake and that requires support and guidance which may require additional training.

As the UK Chapter Chair I have a pure corporate background and my day job is the Global Security Capability Manager of Unilever. I feel this has some major benefits to running the ASIS UK chapter which are the business acumen for business operations and professionalisation of documentation, the customer service lens to generate and retain business, the leadership roles that help develop team cohesion internally but also generate passion for the subject and enthusiasm to grow membership and finally the communication skills coupled with experience at each level of security maturity of the wider security journey.

My personal super-power is being a “shape-shifter”, highly adaptable to my environment and usually able to converse and fit into most situations with relative ease.

I do not know it all and every day is a learning day; that is why having a highly skilled, motivated Board of Directors allows the creativity, productivity and engagement to make our Chapter the success it is.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in security (Arevika):

Like many others, I joined the security industry (in 2017) by accident rather than by design. Whilst it was not a conscious career choice, I had recently graduated from university with a burning desire to learn, progress and “make my mark” in business. Without a law enforcement or military background, it was important for me to quickly learn what was important in this particular industry. The challenge was how I could best use both my skillsets and personality to advance.

Being young and inexperienced, my first role was relatively junior but enabled me to observe those who were successful and identify what made them different to others. It quickly became clear to me that those who progressed were those who were able to think beyond their “day job” and add real value to the organisation for which they were working. Continuous individual improvement, with an understanding of (and focus on) business priorities were critical in my personal development programme.

After four years and two promotions, I was appointed Head of Marketing and Communications for STM Group. This enabled my first real exposure to the wider security family, in which I am now lucky to be a Board Director for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at ASIS International UK Chapter as well as Director of Customer Experience for STM, through which I chair the Voice of Women (VOW) internal working group.

I am also a member of the Working Group of The Security Commonwealth Group as well as the working group of the ED&I Charter by Women in Rail & Railway Industry Association. I am also proud to have also recently been appointed a NED role with Skills for Security, who are the largest apprenticeship training provider in the UK in the fire and security sectors.

Reflecting on my short but fulfilling career in the industry I have come to appreciate that there will always be challenges. Some of these challenges are self-inflicted, as a direct result of seeking new and improved ways of delivery. Others are reactive challenges, arising from the inevitable consequences of operating in a people industry. I also appreciated that, as a young female, arriving form a different country, the male-dominated sector I had joined would not always be willing to accept me as a peer. I quickly learnt that there were different ways of overcoming these challenges, sometimes seeking compromise as opposed to confrontation, but always with a view to ultimately achieving the aim.

My personal experiences quickly taught me to look at each challenge in an empathetic way, but with a determination to promote the optimum solution in a fair and balanced way. I quickly developed a passion for Equality, diversity, inclusion and belonging, with a willingness to always challenge views which were clearly wrong, whilst actively representing a fair and balanced environment

I also believe that it is all driven by how we, as individuals, view the environment in which we are operating. Focusing on the positives can help put individual challenges into perspective. Everyone should feel sufficiently empowered to make a difference. Self-development and self-promotion (in a controlled way) are critical to self-fulfilment. Endeavour to take control of your own destiny by taking matters into your own hands.

Take every opportunity to stand out from the crowd; volunteer, whether by joining internal groups, becoming a member of associations, or helping with specific projects. Raise your profile by attending industry events, and networking with industry professionals (within security or outside). This will encourage and enable a broadening of the mind, a better understanding of different perspectives and the building of a solid network, which can support along what can be a both a challenging, but also a very rewarding journey.

Keep going, have confidence in your own ability and never give up!

Military/Law Enforcement Transitioning into the Private Sector (Tim):

I made the difficult decision to leave the job I loved in policing in 2016 for an opportunity in the luxury hospitality sector as Director of Security at The Savoy Hotel, London.

Leaving a 16-year career in the Metropolitan Police was challenging as I wrestled for a while about leaving all I’d ever known and the job security that the public sector afforded. To start a new career at 36 was daunting and, although I was confident in my own ability, there were moments leading up to it that I certainly questioned regarding whether I was doing the right thing.

I made the conscious decision to network and join ASIS a year prior to transitioning. This gave me exposure to other security professionals and was important preparation as I made the transition from the public to the private sector. One of the main issues that I personally tackled was leaving something that was like family to me and somewhere where I felt I belonged. The police are all about teamwork and I was concerned I wouldn’t have that close of a bond in a corporate environment.

Working out simple etiquette and how to conduct yourself was important to me and I spent my first few weeks and months in the role navigating my way through that.

Joining ASIS prior to transitioning was invaluable. It gave me the opportunity to have honest conversations with peers who had made the transition from police or military and to get their advice on how to approach it myself. My advice to others is to be proactive and join an association like ASIS and seek out members who have made the transition already. Offer to buy them a coffee and bombard them with questions that you have; you’ll be surprised by how many people are willing to help!

ASIS and the network I’ve built helped me take the next step in my career where I’m now Head of Security and Licensing for Capital Arches Group, McDonald’s. Six years later I now consider myself fully transitioned but still have very fond memories of my policing career and am committed to helping former colleagues as they make the jump, either at retirement or earlier like myself.

Young Security Professionals (Richard):

My decision to enter the security industry was not necessarily a conscious one and I often state I ended up in the industry by accident. Upon entering the work force, I was unsure as to the path I wished to follow and trialled several different sectors before taking a short term role in frontline security operations. Immediately, something about the industry strongly resonated with me and I felt a close connection to the aims and objectives of the security sector.

The decision to transition from frontline operations to a management role was a mixture of both luck and judgement as an opportunity presented itself which I pursued relentlessly to show I was good enough. After spending a short term in this role, I started to look for further opportunities within the security sector and to develop as a physical security professional.

Joining ASIS many years ago significantly aided the transition and development into specialist physical security roles and the opportunity to pursue certification, which I still passionately advocate today. One of the biggest challenges many Young Professionals face is to be heard and to be able to demonstrate competence at an early stage. Membership of ASIS opened doors in terms of mentorship, networking and understanding how corporate security operates within a wider organisation, which was invaluable at the time.

Since joining ASIS, I have completed all three certifications (CPP, PCI and PSP), have been heavily involved with the NextGen (formerly Young Professionals) community in the UK and have seen my career take off to a position where I am now responsible for managing Physical Security Operations across Northern EMEA for one of the most recognisable luxury goods retailers in the world.

The connections that ASIS has helped facilitate, and the educational opportunities presented, have been critical to aiding my transition and continued development within the security sector and I would encourage anyone looking to either enter or develop further within the sector to take the plunge and join ASIS, get involved with the local chapter and seize every opportunity to get involved.

You can connect with Matthew on LinkedIn here

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