Uniting security visionaries in Dubai

Uniting security visionaries in Dubai

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On 10 May 2023, the ISJ Leaders in Security Conference brought together 263 senior professionals from the Middle East and Africa security industry for a day of high level networking and insightful discussion.

Many of those who attended the ISJ Leaders in Security Conference 2023 – which took place at the Grosvenor Hotel, Dubai Marina, UAE – praised the fast-paced conference agenda and the myriad opportunities to directly engage with influential decision-makers from the region and beyond.

Throughout the day, themes such as crisis management and strategic leadership were examined by panellists and presenters working in key roles across the industry. After a period of networking during the opening of the event, delegates took their seats in the conference room and were welcomed by Ian Stokes, CEO, Centurian Media Ltd. and John Cowling, Conference Chair and District Security Manager Middle East & CIS, Caterpillar.

Following these introductions, H.E. Khalifa Ibrahim Al Saleis, CEO & Executive Director, Security Industry Regulatory Agency (SIRA) took to the stage and delivered a thought-provoking interactive presentation.

SIRA – established in 2016 by a decree from H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai – was once again a strategic partner of the conference, with ASIS International – Dubai Chapter and The Security Institute also playing a key supportive role.

Following His Excellency’s Keynote Address, the first panel discussion of the day, ‘Cybersecurity and Information Management in a Changing World’, began – the other discussions that took place were: ‘The Missing Element in Risk Assessment’; ‘The Key to Ensuring Homeland Security’; ‘Training, Technology, People: Are the C-Suite Listening?’; ‘Crisis Management: Communication, Disaster and the Road to Recovery’; ‘Securing Hospitality, Retail and Events to Safeguard Economic Stability’ and ‘Diversifying Workforces to Achieve Business Success’.

Themes of risk, training and leadership take centre stage

With a wide range of panel speakers taking to the stage, both regional perspectives and global experiences were highlighted, with representatives from the likes of SIRA, The Security Institute, Emerald Solutions Group, ALPSPN and PerpetuityARC offering their insights.

On the ‘Cybersecurity and Information Management in a Changing World’ panel, John Cowling was joined by Asma Abdulhamid Mohammed Gabanji, Head of Customer Happiness Section, SIRA, Mo Ahddoud, CEO, Chameleon Cyber Consultants, Alex Holmström, Global Sales Director, acre security and Jes Nagel, CEO, Fibrenetix.

As businesses continue to face a multitude of challenges that threaten compliance and security, in the Middle East specifically, digitisation has created opportunities, but it has also changed the landscape indefinitely – during the discussion, our speakers took a closer look at the “do’s” and “don’ts” when looking to implement an effective cyber strategy.

Following this on-stage conversation, ‘The Missing Element in Risk Assessment’ was discussed by Kaerels Fernandez, Criminologist & Lecturer, Tonya Bonfa, Senior Intelligence Analyst, UK Law Enforcement and Adjunct Lecturer, Murdoch University and Ric Peregrino, Managing Director, GBS International Strategic Consultants Inc., before Audelia Boker, VP of Marketing, Sentrycs – Platinum Partner for the conference gave a unique presentation titled: ‘Fostering a Safe and Secure Drone-Empowered Future’.

As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, Boker’s evaluation of the current drone landscape was an ideal segue into the next on-stage conversation which explored ‘The Key to Ensuring Homeland Security’. Boker, Robin Gill, Sales Manager, UK, Vicon Industries and Daniel Omofoman, Technical Associate, ALPSPN utilised their expertise to explore key challenges and opportunities in the Middle East, Africa and Europe specifically.

After a networking and refreshments break, delegates re-took their seats and heard from Howard Leedham MBE, Managing Director, ESID DMCC, who gave a valuable presentation that posed the question: ‘Leadership In Security: A Science or an Instinct?’. Investigating both values and the styles adopted, Leedham referred to research and took it upon himself to ask the audience why leadership matters? Moreover, when you think of good leadership role models – who do you think of?

With ideas of leadership and corporate behaviours firmly in the minds of the audience, Leedham then invited Yacine Benamane, Security Manager, Unilever North Africa & Middle East, Keeva Gilchrist, Learning and Development Manager, PerpetuityARC and Eng. Col. Arif Al Janahi, SIRA to discuss ‘Training, Technology, People: Are the C-Suite Listening?’, a session focussed on ensuring that security professionals have a voice at the C-Suite table as well as the essential components in helping to bridge this gap.

Finally, before the break for lunch, Jennifer Ciolfi, Regional Security Manager, EMEA, Global Security Operations, Snap Inc. delivered an engaging presentation exploring ‘The Customer Service Keystone’, which took a detailed look at what security can cost an organisation, what people want from security and the human value that security contributes – and why organisations should care.

Recent events shape insightful discussions

The themes discussed in the afternoon panel sessions – ‘Crisis Management: Communication, Disaster and the Road to Recovery’; ‘Securing Hospitality, Retail and Events to Safeguard Economic Stability’ and ‘Diversifying Workforces to Achieve Business Success’ – were carefully constructed in light of recent events and trends emerging within the industry.

The ‘Crisis Management: Communication, Disaster and the Road to Recovery’ session, for example, was put together to not just discuss devastating events such as the Turkey-Syria earthquake, but to also explore the implications of socioeconomic instability as well as the collapse of communication in unstable environments. Can we ever be fully prepared for crisis? David Whitworth, Group Managing Director, Emerald Solutions Group, Nigel Lea, CEO, Sicuro Group, Luke Westgarth-Taylor, Regional Security Manager – EMEA, Healix explored such questions in great detail.

The Middle East is a region that understands the value of tourism, major events and hospitality, with the success of Expo 2020 and the World Cup in Qatar highlighting the importance of stakeholder collaboration when looking to protect visitors and infrastructure against threats.

Moreover, retail and hospitality is a major attraction in Dubai specifically, making security in such environments all the more important. During the ‘Securing Hospitality, Retail and Events to Safeguard Economic Stability’ discussion, delegates heard from Khalid Alhamadi, SIRA, David Antar, President, IPVideo Corporation and Steve Whitworth, Global Director of Operations, Emerald Solutions Group.

Also in the afternoon, Keeva Gilchrist was welcomed back to the stage alongside Dana Haubold CSyP, Middle East Members Group, The Security Institute and Noha Hefny, Sr. Consultant Strategic Partnerships & Communications, UN Women, to offer a unique perspectives on the ‘Diversifying Workforces to Achieve Business Success’ panel session.

Adrian Whelan, SVP, Head of Global Security, DHL Express and Matthew Burnard, Director, Control Risks also gave fascinating presentations that focussed on security strategy and regional trends.

To find out more information about the 2024 event, click here.

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