Faculty Advisor: Building a Right-Sized Protection Program

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Q. I am being tasked with establishing an executive protection program for our company.  Executive management does not feel a large entourage of security personnel is warranted. Any advice on how to build out the right program for my company?

Many companies have the same issue. They want a program but do not want the optics of a large security staff protecting the executives. Your challenge is finding the “just right” size and scope that provides the necessary protection.

You want to start by understanding executive management’s security concerns. Communication is key to building out a program that meets their expectations.

From there, design a program that will focus on assisting executives (or any at-risk personnel) with ease of movement, allowing them better management of their time while reducing their exposure to risk. The program should be created to manage overall executive risk and not just focus on physical security issues. It is important this program is flexible and scalable as security needs change.

Facilitate a simple strength, weakness, opportunity and threat (SWOT) analysis exercise with informed and key stakeholders. People and brand protection are team sports. Finance, Human Resources, Operations, Risk Management and Strategic Planning can provide insights. Broad leadership awareness and support is helpful. An executive or board sponsor is ideal.

Assess current conditions and circumstances, threats and vulnerabilities, as well as corporate culture and resources for an aligned and continuously improving at-risk personnel protection program. Think about how you can adapt current or incremental resources to better mitigate emerging risks.

Draft health, safety and security operational requirements for the program.

Consider how you can integrate interoperable technologies into your strategy to enhance protection without adding to the visible security force. Facilitate programming with strategic external solution innovation partners for a holistic approach. Options include three-dimensional access control for select critical facilities, homes, offices and special event venues, analytic all-hazards assessment, anomaly detection, event reporting and threat tracking with secure communications. These technologies are available and add valuable software as a service (SAS) to the mix.

Does the program provide the agility to scale up or down to respond to business conditions (e.g., growth, acquisitions, divestitures, mergers, rightsizing) and threats?

Communicate need-to-know aspects of the plan and survey potential protectees for ideas. Research has shown that organizational care attracts and retains investors and talent.

Measure results and report progress. Financial analysts and stakeholders are often surprised and delighted when highly engaged people and asset protection programs yield 1.5-5 per dollar return on investment. Combined with “how might we do better?” feedback loops, metrics can help ensure continuous improvement.

Share your proven solutions with strategic partners and operating communities. Broadly accepted practices often become more affordable and effective when broadly applied and incrementally improved.

Click here for more on the basic steps every company should take when considering building an executive protection program.

By Phil Hopkins and Francis D’Addario, SEC Emeritus Faculty.

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