A week in the life of a security ops manager
This article was nominated for the City Security magazine Article of the Year Award.
Managing security in the luxury retail sector is challenging, demanding and rewarding. Here Paul Rodriguez, an Operations Manager at a central London location, shares a typical week with us.
Sitting on the train on Monday morning, I review my schedule for the week ahead.
My role includes overseeing a diverse range of tasks to keep our retail clients in the luxury sector secure and happy. I take advantage of this quiet moment to step back and review what’s in front of me, I find these moments can make a real difference.
At 7.30 a.m. I receive my first phone call of the day: a client asking if they can have extra operators for a last-minute visit by a high-profile visitor. I quickly check the schedule to see who’s on shift and make the necessary arrangements to accommodate them.
My morning in the office today is about keeping on top of the day-to-day tasks, such as managing the key holding scheme, rostering and staff management.
First thing in the morning, our local police are in touch with intel about a suspected smash and grab team operating in a neighbouring area. In the recent past, our surveillance team has responded to and assisted police with seven smash and grab attempts and developed a specific communication network with the Flying Squad. Many of these situations require us to gather CCTV footage or images captured by ourselves or the public, cordon off the area and maintain the scene for the police forensics unit, and also feed live intel into West End Central about the suspect’s direction of travel / vehicle registration and description.
I decide to send out an email alert to all our clients in the area using the intel on the suspects’ from the police, together with a refresh on the steps they can take to avoid this crime happening to them.
Today I’m meeting a potential new client. One of the challenges is that some retailers opt for the lower cost option and use firms with a self-employed model to hire their security staff. These companies don’t carry out relevant vetting checks and I believe they offer much less protection to the client. This undermines the SIA and other governing bodies and public perception about the security sector can suffer as a result.
Part of my role involves helping these clients see the benefits of working with a company like ours that aims to not only provide security of the highest standard but which wants to invest in its employees and is innovative in their approach to the industry.
I explain our business model, including our staff management style, our close relationship with the police and our weekly operator inspections to ensure our standards of service are maintained. They seem really impressed. They make their decision on Friday. Fingers crossed!
This morning I take a tour of my patch and catch up with the members of my team, find out how things are with them and if they need any support. I’ve experienced it myself: standing on a door for twelve hours a day and all you have to think about is what’s going on in your life, which can result in you losing your focus.
Today, one member of staff is concerned about her son’s exam results which are due any day. We’ve talked about him many times, so I know he is a hard-working lad. We agree that he’s done his best and that’s all she can ask. Fingers crossed it pays off with great results. After our five-minute chat, she looks more at ease and able to keep focusing on her role.
I aim to understand everyone’s background and what’s going on in their lives, and to support and nurture them while at work. I find that it always helps to have someone you can call on to listen to your problems and offer you an opinion (whether it be a supportive manner or a tough voice that’s needed), when you know you’ll be heard.
One of my favourite parts of my role is delivering training and this morning I’m delivering a module on credit card fraud to one of our clients. I have developed a bespoke training package designed to inform clients of the best practice to use in these situations. The training is well received, with feedback that they feel much better placed to spot this kind of fraud.
As I travel home on Friday evening, the phone goes:, it’s my boss, to tell me that the potential clients we met have decided to take us on. Great news and guess who has the biggest smile on their face in this train carriage!
Saturday / Sunday
This is a seven day per week operation and I’m on call over the weekend. On Saturday afternoon, I receive a call that our undercover team have identified and detained a pair suspected of stealing. Working together using internal CCTV and radio communications they’ve discreetly detained the pair while waiting for the police. I congratulate them on a job well done.
I take a moment to reflect on my excellent team and my role. Developing my staff is a priority for me and I encourage my team to adopt this approach:
- Believe in yourself
- Identify your strengths and use them
- Ask questions
- Listen and learn: take the advice, don’t ignore it!
- Plan ahead; good preparation is key
- Find a company that will support you and your development.
Operation Manager, Luxury Retail