“Thinking about others, holding out your hand to help and not judge them is a duty we owe to everyone. Putting others first doesn’t put you second. It just means you care, and hopefully, someone will care for you in the same way if you ever need it.”
How did your experience in the military help you to build a strong career in the security sector?
A career in the security industry is a fairly natural and, I think, pretty common route for ex-forces personnel. You can look at the army as a corporation with a clear mission. To fulfil its mission, it needs the right people in the right place and for all of them to understand what is expected of them and make sure they are properly trained to do it.
I joined the army as a boy soldier at 16 and became a ‘junior leader’, basically training for potential non-commissioned officers – sergeants and the like. I enjoyed myyears in the army and ended my time there as a sergeant in 7th Parachute Regiment RHA. The skills you learn doing any kind of leadership in the army are the same as managing people in civilian life.
The real difference between the army and a civilian organisation is that you tell people what to do in the army, and they have to do it. That doesn’t happen in the civilian world in the same way, and you need to take people with you. But common to both is explaining the job or mission and making sure your people are equipped to be able to do it properly.
We understand you are very active in sport. How has this helped you in your role?
I am a member of the 100 Marathon Club with 149 marathons or ultra-marathons under my belt, and I’m out cycling 100 to 200 plus kms most weekends.
Sport allows me to clear my head and think through issues away from constant messages. The time away lets me think about how to achieve our goals. Obviously, I’m a bit competitive, and I like to achieve challenging and difficult things. That’s an attitude I bring to my work, too.
Many of your colleagues would call you creative. Is creativity important to you?
Thank you, that’s very flattering. One of the things I like about this work is solving what are often quite complicated problems that involve a fair few stakeholders who can often have different aims and opinions.
Being what you call creative is thinking about what we are trying to achieve and what our clients are also trying to accomplish and making sure they go hand in hand. If you can understand what your client or stakeholder wants to get out of something, you can then have a constructive chat about it. Sometimes clients need help to identify what they need most, so thinking creatively about it really helps.
You have recently completed a course in mental health. What prompted you to seek this qualification, and why do you value it?
We live in a world where admitting to weakness, particularly emotional weakness, can be very tough. The pandemic and the isolation and dislocation it has caused is making this even tougher for some people. Making sure our mental health, as well as our physical health, is properly looked after is so important.
Thinking about others, holding out your hand to help and not judge them is a duty we owe to everyone. Putting others first doesn’t put you second. It just means you care, and hopefully, someone will care for you in the same way if you ever need it.
You are very approachable and personable. Does this help you in your role?
Does that mean I talk too much sometimes? I like being with people and understanding more about them. I wouldn’t want to live in a world where everyone is the same. Listening, as well as talking, is a skill we all develop with experience.
Managers need to be approachable, reasonable and ready to listen. Otherwise, how will you find out what is going on and identify potential issues before they become a problem? It also lets you coach and help your staff. It also gives me great pleasure and pride in my work.