Exclusive: Security from around the world – Part 4


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In the fourth instalment of the series, Matthew Porcelli, CPP hears from the following ASIS International New Zealand Chapter members as they discuss their personal, regional insights and expertise for success for young security professionals, women in security and transitioning military/law enforcement in the New Zealand private security sector:

  • Johan Janse van Rensburg, CPP – ASIS New Zealand Chapter Chair
  • Ngaire Kelaher, CPP, PSP – ASIS Regional Vice President – Region 15A
  • Andrew Thorburn – ASIS New Zealand Young Professional
  • Jennifer Vickers – ASIS New Zealand Member

A Message from the Chair (Johan):

For many years we had the perception of the age-old gentleman’s club when it came to security in New Zealand. In the last four or five years we, as ASIS New Zealand Chapter 148 in conjunction with the New Zealand Security Association, have endeavoured to change this perception. Through initiatives like Young Professionals, Women in Security and actively promoting and assisting with ASIS certifications and certification study groups. Gone are the days when you had to have served in the military or police to get into the security field.

What worked in the active services world does not always translate well into the corporate world well. Our chapter tries to bridge those gaps with monthly chapter, young professionals and study group update meetings and we also run a weekly study group in Auckland and Wellington. Women in security is an ever-growing field for us and I have the privilege of working closely with some of the best in the industry.

Our young professionals are a new breed of technology-savvy professionals starting out on this security journey with very little real-world experience. They see security as an IT-only function and don’t really understand how important the PhySec portion is to their overall success as a security professional. One of our biggest stumbling blocks with young professionals is to get them to accept PhySec as a critical security function in the industry. 

Whether you are a young professional, a military/law enforcement professional transitioning or thinking of transitioning into security, a woman in security or just in the manned services field, we all fight the perception that security is just a job, when, in fact, you can make security a meaningful career. Our chapter endeavours to be all-inclusive and we try to give people the opportunities to engage with like-minded professionals for advice, mentorship and personal development.  

Women in Security in New Zealand (Ngaire):

Hello fellow ASIS International members! Kia ora from New Zealand!

Speaking from a personal perspective, I used to think that in order to cater to our Women in Security community, an event, activity, strategy had to ONLY be for Women in Security or had to have ‘Women in Security’ in the title for it to count. That’s what I used to think.

Here is what has changed my perspective. Over time I found it difficult to define a purely ‘Women in Security’ event or activity, or strategy when a number of events cross over into other focus areas. For example, our strategies to drive and promote certification, our young professionals’ meetings and events, membership drives, and so forth. All of these focus areas cross over into the ‘Women in Security’ realm as they are obviously part of the target audience. So, if ‘Women in Security’ isn’t in the title does that mean it doesn’t cater to the WIS community? Of course not!

Our events that focus on Young Professionals meetings obviously include women in the industry, likewise for certification focused events which is also for all genders of the industry. Networking events and chapter meetings are again for all.

Events that we run which solely celebrate Women in Security is the annual ASIS New Zealand Women in Security event where we gather presenters who represent our women of the security industry to speak to industry as a whole. This event is held in honour of International Women’s day has been running for almost six years now.

The point of difference is that although it is prominently speakers who are women of our industry, the event is targeted to ALL of industry, regardless of gender. Listening to stories of inspiration and subject matter experts sharing their expertise in various fields would benefit the security industry as a whole. Because diversity and inclusion is something we as a chapter is passionate about, not exclusion.

So, in response to my first issue – for an activity, strategy or event to count, does it have to be solely dedicated to WIS? Answer: No. So, my advice to WIS liaisons who are trying to cater to their community, don’t get too caught up on titles or thinking other genders need to be excluded in order for the WIS community to benefit.

I used to also believe that success was based on numbers. To cater to the needs of the WIS community we had to have vast numbers engaged or attend an event or activity and if that wasn’t the case it was a failure. I have since changed my perspective in that regard as well. And what prompted this was individual conversations over time with attendees to some of our WIS annual events and online activities where they expressed how much they benefited and gained from attending. I realised I had lost sight of what the event was actually hoping to achieve which is to inspire others!

This has changed my view on a number of other activities as well. For the monthly Young Processionals meetings, certification round-up meetings or monthly chapter meetings, regardless of numbers the meeting will still go ahead where possible because the few that do actually attend are there for a reason – whether it is to be inspired, to make connections, gain knowledge, look for advice, share resources or even to vent – and if, as a chapter we can help and serve even just one or two people at that meeting or event then isn’t that a success story? Of course, there will be financial constraints that might make and event or activities rely on numbers but where possible, celebrate all of the ‘wins’. Look at what we are actually hoping to achieve and stick to that as being the measure of success rather than turning things into a numbers game.

New Zealand is not a very big country and the security industry is a small one. With that being said we find a lot of members tend be to members of other affiliative groups as well. We have the New Zealand Security Association, the New Zealand Women in Security Network, a number of special interest groups, the security network. By working with, supporting and contributing to other industry groups – rather than competing – we are in the better position to cater to our members including out local women in security community and to industry as a whole.

The New Zealand Security Association and ASIS New Zealand have hosted a number of joint webinars, activities and events. The New Zealand Security Association has provided sponsorship in the Women In Security annual events and has assisted the chapter in a number of ways over the years. The New Zealand Women in Security Network have also been a great support and a number of members of which attend the annual Women in Security event and various ASIS activities throughout the year.

My learnings:

  • You don’t need to have EXCLUSIVE women in security events for it to benefit the women in security community for it to count.
  • Yes, success may be a numbers game but don’t allow that to be your measure of success and focus on inclusion, not exclusion.
  • Work with industry affiliations instead of trying to compete when you are trying to service your members.

And last but not least, I encourage all our members to actively connect with the wider ASIS international community. Particularly with the Women in Security forum on ASIS connects – the networking and connections made there are priceless.

Heoi anō tāku mō nāianei.

No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa

Young Professionals in Security (Andrew):

In the context of New Zealand, there has never been a more relevant time to engage with the next generation of security professionals. To attract, and perhaps more pertinent, to retain through mentoring, coaching, continuous education and to celebrate individuals success’ along the way.

There are several key elements to consider when reviewing what it means to be a Young Professional, such as at what stage they are at, what skill gaps exist, how does industry best Support Young Professional’s and professional development,

Where are we?

Traditionally, the sector has viewed Young Professional’s as being just that, young. Young, as an adjective, meaning having lived or existed for only a short time; not fully developed. By default, we are led to believe that “Young”, is represented by those preparing to leave school or those completing tertiary education and entering the mainstream work force.

However, I believe “Young” should be replaced with “Emerging”.  Emerging because it is not uncommon for people to take a tangent in their careers part way or nearer the end of their traditional employment life. In addition, many public Sy professionals with backgrounds in law enforcement and defence force, often make the move into the private sector, which they learn very quickly is different to the public sector. Therefore, to truly reflect those that are willing and able to start a career in any of the Sy disciplines, at any stage of their employment cycle, the term “Emerging Professional”, seems to me at least, to be more germane.

There are much broader questions to be asked, but for brevity, responses to questions posed are as follows.

On reflection I think the major barrier to starting in any sector is ourselves and how we process the situations we find ourselves in. For me, like many teenagers, there was a sense of having to prove oneself to peers and customers. You want people to value your thoughts and output, sometimes before you are ready. That’s the “Young” part.

Growing up in a law enforcement family, there was a sense of self expectation to understand protective security deeper than one should at that point too, so self pressure was most probably the chief restraint.

Further to the above, there was little to no emphasis on formal training in the mid 1990’s outside of electrical apprenticeships or appliance service  training.  Security technicians fell into a void between. It provided great pay for Young people, but employer’s didn’t need to have staff with proven credentials, so they didn’t invest in them. Professional development was left to the individual.

Today, there is wider recognition of security electrotechnology specific trade certificates which also form part of new Govt. Agency, Ministry of Justice, industry legislation to support licensing. This is a positive for those entering the sector, and right now, for those hiring. The outcome is a more collaborative and strategic professional development pathway across all security pillars.

I see engaging and developing YP’s as a duty of care by those that have been handed the torch. Before passing it over, we need to ensure best practice is both understood and followed, ahead of short term profits. In addition, we must engage with a diverse range of individuals and organisations to have methodology challenged, in part because we operate in a constantly evolving threat landscape.

Globally, cyber is accepted as the greatest threat to organisations and CNI, yet we have a global shortage of skilled and experienced practitioners. There hasn’t been enough undertaken to engage and develop people. We observe several channels to support this. I don’t think it is reinventing the wheel or has changed too much. It starts when they are in junior school and developing an appetite for a security career. 

Therefore, in conjunction with school career liaison officers, implementing security education, whether it be personal online safety or community subconscious CPTED considerations, we can spark an early interest. This group is closely followed by LEA and Defence Force Organisational Development teams to bridge gaps and assist in transition from public to private sector roles. This provides industry an opportunity to learn from them too. Many have transferrable skills, very desirable in the private sector, but can be overlooked.

As technology becomes the foundation for so many modern day treatments, whether it be physical hardware or software,  we are observing a new wave of security professionals. They engage in a more informal manner, online, so our engagement has to align and compliment their world too. Just like how physical and information security converged many years ago, traditional industry groups engagement has to too.

No longer can there be one authority in the realm of Sy. It takes a village to raise a child and therefore I believe more collaboration with industry SME groups will help the transfer of skills, knowledge, whilst growing the pool of resources available to members, in turn, increasing the value of association membership.

Military/Law Enforcement Transitioning to Private Security (Jennifer):

New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has been honest in recent years about the challenges faced in ensuring transition to civilian life does not become another form of trauma experienced by Defence personnel. The Police Force is also becoming more sophisticated about the way transition works, but this too, is a work in progress.

With Guides and Plans as well as access to coaches, the processes in NZ are improving but more is still needed.

We often look way across the Pacific to the US and the experience of transition out of the US Armed Forces. We see more resources, more funds, more respect for those who served and, more options. However, we also still see many of the same stories echoed of struggles and issues experienced, by those who make the leap.

The physical and cybersecurity sectors offer military and police a wide range of next career options, sometimes too many and this itself adds more complexity to the transition journey.

Talking to a number of ex-forces and ex-police personnel about transition, we were directed to a range of resources:

  • The NZDF “A Guide to Transitioning from Military to Civilian Life”
  • The Returned and Services Association (RSA)
  • A multitude of associations and charities
  • NZDF Transition Coaches who can provide services for personnel up to one year post-release
  • Recruiters with a defence background

More intriguing and possibly useful were the interesting perspectives each person offered, which were not captured in the normal resources and which contained lessons which many wished they had understood earlier!

Here is the top 11 of those experiential perspectives.

Follow your heart and find your purpose

In the forces and the police, the question of your driving purpose and the place where you feel your work heart belongs is easily answered, with service.

On transition, it is really important to take the time to figure out where your life purpose will find a home and where you can be satisfied, valued and challenged. It may come as a surprise that many people in the workplace outside service have not found their own purpose or right tribe and consequently operate in a low trust and self-centred way which can impact on others around.

Sadly, many transitioners find themselves heading into the wrong tribe. Maybe savvy recruiters identify that they are what an organisation needs, with no regard for whether that organisation is a fit that is good for them or transitioners lacking self confidence grab at the easiest available comfort blanket. No one benefits from a transitioner ending up in the wrong purpose place

Who you are is not what you did or how you did it

For many in the services or police, the level of the commitment to their role is so great that they inadvertently come to define themselves by the role they had and the part they played. Knowing yourself is vital. This can be one’s most valuable asset as you learn the language which describes you and what you bring to a role, not just the role you had.

It is easy within the process of transition to forget, or not appreciate, how many service skills are highly regarded by civilians and hard to find. There are now many tools and resources (including advisors) who can assist with translating service roles, skills and abilities into business or civilian language.

One way of navigating this particular challenge, is to focus on service/life skills and knowledge already acquired in the services, and then relate them to the broader context of the civilian world. It is also about understanding your personal and professional support networks, in order to identify any needs, fill the gaps and create opportunities for achieving further potential.

There is no one size fits all “transition suit”-find the right tailor

While transition services are available off a menu, everyone has a unique style and approach and cannot be squeezed into a standard sized suit.

The advice is, if the process feels like it does not suit you, reach out, investigate and identify the one that does work.

Take control of the exit clock

There are usually only three methods by which service ends:

  • Exit is a surprise, neither planned nor expected
  • I am over this and out of here or on to the next…
  • Retiring at ‘X’ date is part of an expected trajectory.

Ideally you leave from method two or three but if your departure fits into method one still be deliberate about setting the departure clock to a timeline that is best for you. Sadly, at this unexpected departure stage what is in the best interests of the service is often not in your best interest and you need to quickly embrace self interest and be proactive in the final timetable setting.

Seize every [right] opportunity to learn and evolve

While you are in a service, a team of skilled and dedicated people are responsible for directing you or leading you to all the learning opportunities that serve your service (and hopefully you too).

That dedicated team disappears when you leave and you are largely on your own. Often you will not know what you need or what is out there but step one is developing (or keeping) a learning growth mindset.

A great start is training and support that is peer tested and free of charge and with pathways to a meaningful role.

The Fortinet Fortivet Programme provides free support and training for veterans to learn, train, practice and then move into cyber security roles. Jay Garcia, now Education Program Manager at Alteryx in the US, experienced the Fortivet programme from both the transitioner and the Program Manager perspective. We highly recommend following Jay on LinkedIn and looking out for his wisdom. His mix of compassion and tough love with realism, is a great suit to pick up and try on.

Take charge of your destiny, because no one else will

Sadly, no one is going to care about you and your future, as much as you after you walk off the base or camp for the last time. Mindful of this, plan and organise you timeline and transition plan, put yourself out there and evolve, in the same way you were guided within the service.

Seek out the right networks and role models

Recognising that everyone’s path out and their mental resiliency will be different, it is important to find a range of tribes and networks to support you. Just because a colleague found solace in XYZ veterans association does not mean that the organization and its members will be a healthy and useful option for you. Lots of first dates may be needed before you hit on the right place or places for you to network.

You do not need to actually know someone who looks like a good role model, mentor or occasional friend. The veteran communities across the world shine as beacons of best practice and excellence in reaching out, sharing and supporting. If the person you find on LinkedIn sounds right to you, just because they are on the other side of the world should not hold you back. Jay Garcia is a great example. He was adopted as a LinkedIn Military Top Voice last year which attests to his standing in and support of a global community.

The best day to start transition is the first day of service

Daniel Vincent of SoldierOn Australia shared this great mantra with us: “The best day to start transition is your first day of service and the next best day is today.”

Traditionally transition activities did not start until the end of tenure, sometimes a little before and for many after it was over and then too late. These days across the world, we are seeing the introduction of formalised transition processes once an end date is identified. Daniel and other enlightened Veterans’ supporters urge everyone to start that process very early, so you control your destiny to a much greater extent.

Many service roles involve downtime. Time spent training and learning will reap future rewards in a way Facebook or TikTok never will!

There has never been a better time to reach out for help

It takes a village to create a great service person and that whole village suffers when the burden of everything, becomes too great for a transitioner. There is more help now than ever before for you and your village.  A sad village is less able to move on and raise more great service people. This is not an outcome that delivers for anyone.

Family first is a major consideration

Typically, service families get dragged around the country and sometimes overseas during the transitioners career. Their sacrifices are huge and should not be underestimated.

To an extent, transition services try to consider the rights of families and recognise the sacrifices they make. This could range from the example of the Fortivet global Programme which is open to all veteran family members, right through to a footnote reminder to consider what the family might need or want. 

The advice from my veteran security industry sources, is to ensure your family plays a bigger role in your next step decision making, than they might have previously. The need to bring in a good income to keep the family comfortable could be a major factor. Despite the advice in item one, this may mean that at times this means a transitioner might take a job that isn’t necessarily values or purpose aligned. In this scenario at least be intentional in the decision making and chart the path to the next transition!

Listen and look out for the Feather, the Bat and the Bus

This great wisdom was shared by a transitioner who did not get the recommendations above and willingly walked himself into a place where the culture, the people and the purpose were lacking. He admits that the lure of the $$$ satisfied his need for financial stability but he ignored all the other, as it turns out, more important considerations.

He urges listening to the universe and the signals it is sending. The Feather is the gentle nudge, the uncomfortable feeling, the sense that all is not right. Sadly, it is easy to ignore the message from the Feather. The Bat comes with pain and is experienced when the signals are no longer subtle. This pain hurts. That pain is a great signal to re-evaluate and change course otherwise we are likely to find ourselves in the way of the Bus. Now that is the one that really hurts.

If on reflection you have felt the gentle touch of the Feather in this stage of transition take note and act. If on reflection, you can still feel the imprint of the Bat, take more urgent action because otherwise the Bus is coming.

If you have felt the force of the Bus already, there is a whole global community supporting veterans and law enforcement transitioners, which will help you move on to a different stop on a different route with a very different final destination.

Final thought shared by my sage contributors, was to OODA Loop yourself into a transition that works for you, not against you.

You can connect with Matthew on LinkedIn here

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