Security Journal UK speaks exclusively with Rick Mounfield, Chief Executive of The Security Institute.
Across every industry, success can be found in a variety of forms. Whilst recognition, reward and innovation are undoubtedly buzzwords associated with it, it is only the latter of these terms that allows us to succeed in both the present as well as the future.
In contrast to the turbulent landscape in 2021 however, the UK security industry continued to thrive and, instead of resting on its short term laurels, learned lessons, harnessed technology and embraced emerging trends to further solidify the groundwork for the next-generation of security professionals. With the future looking bright, Security Journal UK caught up with Rick Mounfield CSyP FSyI, Chief Executive of The Security Institute, to discuss how the organisation is using last year’s successes to continue growing its membership and support young professionals as they look to embark on long-lasting careers in security.
A year of change and achievement
After announcing Camilla Scrimgeour ASyI and Anastasia Spiridonova as Co-Chairs of the Young Members Group, as well as appointing Paul Barnard CSyP MSyI as The Security Institute’s Vice Chair, in the first six months of 2021, a benchmark for the way in which the organisation was going to operate for the year was set early on.
In June, these major strides were followed up with the announcement that the Princess Royal had accepted Royal Patronage of The Security Institute for an initial period of three years, a milestone which was described by the organisation’s President, Baroness Henig CBE DL as a “huge accolade” and one that recognised the quality standard of the work it undertakes. Mounfield explains: “Our success in 2021 came in a lot of different areas. Picking up the Royal Patronage during a year of COVID-19 restrictions was a massive achievement.
“In addition to this, for the second year in a row The Security Institute grew its membership by well over 1,000 people. There is no sign of this slowing down in 2022 and we have to run two validation boards a month now to cope with the applications! You cannot just join the Institute; you have to apply for membership and then you are reviewed by your peers.”
As well as its unsurprising membership boom, The Security Institute’s operations grew as they increased their staff numbers whilst also changing locations, moving to a bigger and higher security site. By expanding, the organisation is able to continue investing in its people, HR and marketing. “In 2020, it was all about digital transformation,” continues Mounfield. “Having invested in our CRM, platforms and online engagements, we used last year to create a hybrid approach as restrictions were eased and we could resume face-to-face events.”
Professionalising from the ground up
In July 2021, The Security Institute’s Board of Directors put forward a restructured strategy that focussed on five strategic pillars – Membership Journey, Professionalism, Influence, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and Career Pathways. Of this strategic plan, two which saw significant growth over the last 12 months were the ‘Professionalism’ and ‘Influence’ pillars. Mounfield outlines how they have grown: “We have three Directors in each of our five pillars and the Professionalism pillar is viewed by us through the lens of learning and development. By learning via bitesize, professional courses, members can develop without having to invest their time and money into qualifications such as degrees which are often unnecessary in these instances.
“Degrees are still very necessary but are beyond the reach of many lower earners and young professionals who need more affordable quality learning opportunities to earn enough to invest in themselves further down the line with a higher level of education.
“Across the board we use CV360 which is very popular. The AI platform this is built on takes CV’s and analyses the text, grammar and style within it to assess its strengths and areas of improvement – these recommendations can be as simple as font size and word count. Interview360 is the same concept in that it uses AI to provide recommendations but via simulated interviews. Using the technology that online exams use, the mock interviewer will pick up your body language and speech patterns so that you can receive valuable feedback which can be utilised for real life interviews.
“We have a mature, recently updated distance learning program which we deliver with our training partner Perpetuity Arc. These short, affordable certifications are well priced and can be delivered online, thus reducing expense and providing flexibility for those who wish to learn. Moreover, to ensure that those committed to personal and professional development can access credible training, our Approved Training Provider Scheme provides a quality assessment of courses which are not accredited by organisations or bodies.
“Another pillar is ‘influence’ and we work very closely with the Security Industry Authority, The Security Commonwealth and many other organisations worldwide to collaborate on this important aspect. In recent years, we have seen an upskilling of many licence linked qualifications – with Close Protection ongoing – however, the perception of these dedicated people is still misunderstood. By changing the ways in which frontline officers are viewed, we will, in my opinion, see standards and salaries improve across the industry so that security careers become more desirable.”
Further demonstrating how the organisation is professionalising the industry, The Security Institute’s Next Generation In Security youth engagement initiative – which was launched in partnership with the EY Foundation – ran a ‘Secure Futures’ programme; this was a ten-month employability programme which was completed by 22 teenagers from lower income backgrounds. The programme saw 22, 16-18-year-olds undertake two, week-long hybrid learning courses which looked at employment skills and career opportunities within the industry. For 2022, The Security Institute already has a confirmed 25 teens enrolled and fully funded.
Mounfield adds: “The understanding gained by these teenagers at the end of the two weeks was remarkable. Not only did the knowledge of what careers were available in the security industry sink in, but they developed practical skills and confidence along the way. Of the 22 that completed these courses, over 60% were girls and over 80% of the total were from ethnic minority backgrounds. These participants go on to a ten-month mentoring programme with the business that sponsored them.
“In 2021, we also achieved an Employee Recognition Scheme ‘Silver Award’ under the Armed Forces Covenant and, in 2022, we will be submitting our gold level application. This is all about highlighting the skills that come from the armed forces to show people from these backgrounds how their skills are transferrable. For people like me, who may have been in the military from when they were very young, this is not always recognised at first glance.”
Representing the industry
With the past two years putting an emphasis on the importance of knowledge sharing and collaboration, The Security Institute’s 16 Special Interest Groups are a go-to for thought-leadership conversation. Led by experts in their fields who represent the interests of the wider community, one Special Interest Group which developed massively in 2021 was the Rainbow Community run by Mel Hipwood MSyl and Satia Rai MSyl. Mounfield reflects on this success: “We will be parading pride in 2022 and it is critical that we, as an organisation, lead from the front so that the industry can hear the voices of the under-represented.
“It is vital that people in these groups are no longer left in the shadows. The beauty of The Security Institute is that we get to work with leaders from a variety of backgrounds that do many of the things they do for purely altruistic purposes. People in security have an instinct to serve – just like nurses, teachers and police officers, they have an inherent desire to give back and to offer something of genuine value.
“The industry is dominated by ex-military and ex-police and, whilst there will always be a need for this, if we want diversity and inclusion to be at the heart of the way in which we move forward as we look at countering new and emerging threats, we need to have people with different voices and experiences involved. You cannot just expect five people selected from the same economic background and of the same race and age to form a perspective that is inclusive of everybody’s challenges and opinions.”
Similar to last year, the roadmap for The Security Institute in 2022 is built on its five pillars and Mounfield is rightly confident that these mirror what the industry needs to be thinking about as it looks to the next 12 months. “Being agile is going to be key and we as an organisation need to reflect the needs of the industry,” he concludes. “Just as there is plenty to look forward to, there is certainly a lot to look back on with pride and build on.
“I think a risk-based approach to security is becoming more commonplace instead of just putting a fence round something to try and secure it. As a result, the way costs are put aside for security may differ significantly and I therefore see in the future that security leaders need to speak the language of business better. Just as Transport for London were reluctant to put a ballistic film on their tube trains until they discovered it was also graffiti-proof, we need to continue finding ways of adding value to security and the services we provide.”
The Security Institute is the largest professional membership body for security professionals in the UK with over 4,100 members to date. To find out more information about the work that Rick Mounfield and the team are doing, visit: https://security-institute.org/
This article was originally published in the February edition of Security Journal UK. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.