Exclusive: Security from around the world – Part 6


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In the sixth instalment of the series, Matthew Porcelli, CPP catches up with several ASIS International Singapore Chapter members as they share their personal, regional insights and expertise for success for young security professionals, women in security and transitioning military/law enforcement in the private security sector:

  • Hwee Fong Yong, APP – ASIS Singapore Chapter Chair
  • Edison Shi Sheng Koh – ASIS Singapore Chapter Member
  • Marie – Helene Mansard – ASIS Singapore Member
  • Keith It – ASIS Singapore Member

A message from the Chair – (Hwee)

Stepping up from Vice Chairperson to Chairperson for the last lap of the two-year term, I am glad to say that the Management Committee (MC) showed commitment to bringing value to members during the pandemic period – 2020 to 2021 – through organising webinars, publishing quarterly newsletters and organising face-to-face events where possible under ever-changing safe management measures.

In 2022, where pivoting to endemic is the buzz word in this little red dot called Singapore, the MC switches gear swiftly and resonates with the nation-wide change in approach; more face-to-face activities are currently a work in progress to: Position the Singapore Chapter as the platform for uniform officers wanting to transit into private sector; Attract young people to consider becoming security practitioners; Encourage more women in security to join our association.

The work is not easy and I believe that with more members, new and seasoned ones, stepping forward to volunteer their time, the good work will continue and evolve to a better version.

Women in Security in Singapore (Marie)

I am quite new to the management committee in ASIS Singapore that I joined only two months ago. Nevertheless, I have been involved in Women In Security topics since I joined ASIS in 2020.

Last year was a bit difficult with COVID-19 as we were not allowed to meet in big groups, so it was groups of five to eight people having lunch together. What is impressing me is that some our male members are taking this Women In Security topic very seriously and do not hesitate to share their time and advice to female security professionals.

In Singapore, security companies are recruiting quite a lot, whether this be guarding companies, technology providers or services providers. The same applies to MNC for their security department. It therefore makes a lot of sense for companies to recruit men and also women.

Being myself a professional with experience in aeronautics, defence and IT, in addition to security and cybersecurity, I have seen the industry changing over the years regarding bringing more women to the industry. What I found important, and a key success factor to successfully integrate women in companies traditionally dominated by men, is to create a woman-friendly environment. This means for the company to be open and transparent about carrier and promotion and to treat everyone with equity. Flexibility in the company to ensure a good balance between personal life and professional life is also very important, for both female and male employees.

Another key success factor is to ensure there are enough female role models in the organisation for young female professionals to be able to project themselves into a fulfilling carrier. The message to them is: “Yes, this is a possible and desirable professional future for me.” Being myself now quite senior, I feel some people see me as a role model; this is the reason why I decided to mentor people to help them thrive. It is a way for me to give back to society the same level of help I received when I was younger.

For us in Singapore now, we have the opportunity to come back to physical and social events, so we are considering having one dedicated to our female members to give them the opportunity to share and learn. I hope this will be fun!

Young Professionals in Security in Singapore (Edison)

It is probably due to Singapore being a ‘safe’ country – whereby a generation of Singaporeans have not faced any terror attacks before – that many take security for granted.

The general mindset of Singaporeans is that security officer jobs are for those who are into their retirement or for not highly educated individuals. This means that security careers are not highly sought after and often looked down upon. However, when one faces an incident or requires assistance, only then will they remember the unsung heroes. Additionally, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, many industries were affected, causing some to do a temporary or mid-career switch into the security industry until the economics improved.

To attract young professionals into the security industry, the Security Tripartite Cluster has announced a marked increase in the monthly salary of security officers from 2024 onwards as well as driving the industry towards a 44 hour work week, further reducing the overtime that security officers have to work, thus creating a better work-life balance. Young professionals may also refer to Skills Framework for Security to get information about the industry, career pathways, skills and competencies to carry out the role and training programs for upgrading and learning.

Looking back, I started off my career as a Security Officer in 2012, slowly rising up the ranks over the years to the Security Consultant I am today. I was introduced to ASIS International by my mentor as I am hungry to prove my worth, to prove that if others can do it so can I, to be extraordinary and most importantly – for personal mastery, to gain knowledge and apply it to my daily work.

I wouldn’t say that I have reached the pinnacle, but along the way as a Young Professional people will tend to doubt your capabilities. They will tend to talk you down to prove their worth. Nevertheless, it is good to take constructive feedback from them on how to improve so that you can grow from strength-to-strength and ignore unnecessary remarks that will demoralise you. Be humble, gain experience and learn from others, so that you can change and modify it to be uniquely yours.

Lastly, embrace lifelong learning.

Military/law enforcement transitioning to private security in Singapore (Keith)

After spending more than ten years in government, I made the switch to corporate security. If, by now, you have decided to move out of public service and are wondering how to adapt to the private sector and contribute meaningfully, I hope you will find this short sharing useful.

The skillset one may develop throughout a career within government is directly applicable to the corporate world. Organisational planning, stakeholder management, project management, problem solving and people developing are qualities which are common between public and private sectors.

Just as working in government requires one to devise plans to enable organisational effectiveness, collaborate with multiple parties both within and outside the organisation, bring people and processes together to deliver an outcome, devise solutions out of problems and identify and create opportunities to hone and elevate knowledge and competencies, one also needs to demonstrate these qualities in the corporate world.

Beyond transferring and applying these skills, it pays to develop a commercial mindset. The private sector is certainly more risk taking and bottom-line driven. While a security unit is a cost centre, commercial acumen means maintaining a perspective of the capital expenditure and recurring cost required as well as framing one’s recommendations for projects in terms of service and operational deliverables.  

Corporate working titles are also different from government titles and seniority. Different organisations adopt different nomenclatures. It pays to focus on the job scope rather than the title. And, for those transiting out of uniform service, refrain from getting hung-up on one’s previous rank and seniority. In the corporate world, respect and rewards are aligned with output.

Transitioning from the public sector to private sector appears daunting. But, with the right attitude and perspectives, a career in the corporate world provides an exciting opportunity to navigate new grounds and enhance one’s professional growth.

You can connect with Matthew on LinkedIn here

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