Four ways a management apprenticeship can bring value to your role in security
Mark Chapple, a seasoned security professional, shares his learning from his recent management apprenticeship and four key ways this might help others looking to develop their career in security.
The global cyber security market is estimated at $150 billion. The physical security market is estimated at $885 million. Just let that sink in.
The physical market includes fences, CCTV, alarms, integrated risk management systems and front-line security officers. The numbers tell a significant story there: comparing the $ value, cyber security outweighs physical security by a logarithmic rather than a linear scale. Tucked in amongst that $885M is guarding and keyholding.
The fact that the industry analysts did not break this out tells us something about their view. Whilst money speaks in practical terms, those at the physical security end recognise that the entire security industry stands on the shoulders of front-line security officers checking passes and controlling access.
On a Security Institute forum recently, the question was posed, ‘Do you need to be a security professional to lead the security function in your business?’ If the physical security function is to survive and grow its market share alongside cyber security, one might equally ask, ‘Do you need training in management practice to be an effective leader of a sustainable security function?’
As Covid started in 2021, I was fortunate to be able to sign up for an apprenticeship programme tied to a postgraduate award. I have a breadth of security qualifications and experience, none of which are recognised in the mainstream, so I elected to go for a course focused on Management Practice.
After almost 40 years in physical security, what I learned opened my eyes and may help you to better add value to the work of you and your team. This learning certainly applies when dealing with professionals outside your own swim lane such as HR, finance, engineering, facilities, project management, even legal!
Here are my security take-aways from four of the eight learning modules on my course.
The academic perspective helped me to place some of the good and bad leadership I had seen in context, particularly the difference between transactional and transformational leadership. This understanding will help you deal with tension in the workplace, especially if you are in a supervisory role.
You will better understand the importance of training, development and workforce retention vs. ‘Quiet Quitting’. This helped me better understand some of the value of diversity and inclusion and to contribute to the Security Institute ‘Inclusive Security’ special interest group.
Understanding how to look at markets through our clients’ perspective has better helped me to align my offer more closely with the clients’ needs. Looking at the introduction of new technology showed previously hidden traits common to our business and our clients. This adds value not only in the delivery of enhanced business-as-usual services but also better helps those moving to managerial roles understand how to better compete for and win for new business.
Measuring business value
Some of the larger companies delivering front-line security also deliver cleaning and facilities services. In such cases, the physical security function could be reporting to a manager with a background in facilities, cleaning or accounts. This type of learning module would be of benefit to those trying to extract, deliver or demonstrate further value from their current security operations. Businesses with a transformational leadership style will typically measure value by measuring multiple value streams to assess their performance. Financial value is the common focus for all businesses, and in physical security financ, the cheapest often wins. Formulated close to 30 years ago, the Balanced Scorecard measures Finance, Customer Perspective, Internal Business Processes and Learning & Innovation. The latter applies to the employees as well as the business. In a competitive labour market, offering employees better learning and development opportunities can lead to better retention.
Some accounting processes are designed to stimulate challenge by presenting opportunities for questioning from different disciplines in the business. Transformational businesses recognise that this will produce a more robust solution as well as supporting business inclusion initiatives. For the front-line security community, the need to accept and promote a challenge culture is one of the hardest lessons from the Manchester Arena Inquiry.
Many physical security professionals will be required to operate technology as part of their duties. This technology can include CCTV, alarm systems and access control systems using biometrics or RFID technology. Security technology can often fail because user input has not been taken into account at the project definition stage. Project management concepts like the Cost-Influence curve help security professionals explain how their input to new security-related projects helps to reduce costs throughout the life of a technology project. Front-end-loading is a similar project management theory that takes real-world experience into account at the project definition stage. The National Audit Office recommends it and the UK Infrastructure and Projects Authority includes it as part of its ‘Setting up for success’ project guidance.
Details of funded apprenticeship training are on the Department of Education website. Some forward-thinking security businesses may be prepared to release their staff for eight hours a week to pick up this kind of qualification. In an increasingly competitive market, these could be the businesses that survive.
Mark Chapple MSc, MSyI
Member of the Security Institute
Managing Consultant SRSRM Ltd
Security convergence advocate