In the last few years, we’re seeing more companies getting into executive travel risk management. But what does that mean for your career and what skills do you need to sharpen to get ahead?
Well, since doing executive travel risk management can be a tricky business, we wanted to break it down for you. Today, we’ll tell you the most common pitfalls you should avoid, and the basis of every solid plan. So let’s jump right in.
The Challenges of Executive Travel Risk Management
Before we get into all the ins and outs, the most important thing for you to know is that TRM is a team sport. Your team will be with you, side by side, through all of the challenges that you’ll face in the field.
You will never unilaterally be making decisions, but instead, you’ll be doing with others around you. All the stakeholders get a say in the plan, and you need to come up with a strategy together.
With that said, executive travel risk management poses some challenges that you won’t find anywhere else in the EP industry. Knowing them all by heart will help you stay ahead of the curve, and you’ll hopefully be able to tackle them better.
The first, and most common TRM challenge, has to do with the budget. Numerous companies simply can’t afford to create a special TRM team that would handle all the potential risks of travel. However, what they need to realize is that not having a dedicated team would cost them even more in case of an incident.
If something happened to any employee, including executives, and shareholders, the company could hugely suffer. Its stocks might plummet, clients might pull out of deals, associates could leave, and employees could sue.
So if a company doesn’t do executive travel risk management, it’s your job to provide a report on why not having a team would cost even more.
Right off the back of that, another massive problem is response time. Companies that don’t have a TRM team have a huge response time, which is extremely dangerous. In a crisis, you need someone to respond immediately, not after a few hours. However, that’s not even the most important thing that a TRM team has to do.
Most of their responsibilities happen before the actual travel takes place when they do travel risk assessment. At that stage, they will identify and manage all potential risks and threats, and stop them before they even happen.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of TRM
If you’re in charge of doing executive travel risk management in a company, your first order of business is to figure out where they fall on the TRM scale. Is the structure reactionary, legalistic, or socially responsible. Let’s quickly break down what these mean.
If the structure’s reactionary, that basically means that the company has an inconsistent policy and guidelines for TRM. Also, they’re probably doing the bare minimum when it comes to monitoring risks, managing data, and training.
A legalistic structure is somewhat better but still needs work. The company probably has some consistent policies that they’re not updating, but are following. What’s more, the company’s employees had some sort of training, and they do basic data management for TRM.
Lastly, companies that we consider socially responsible are the ones with an established TRM team. Those are the organizations that put a lot of thought, effort, and money into keeping their employees safe. Some of the things that they do to ensure that include:
- Policies that include all employees
- Proactive training
- Constant monitoring, communication, and management
- Executive management
- Incident response procedures
The Three Pillars of TRM
All executive travel risk management starts with these things:
- Power through information
- Security and tracking
If you want to do your job right, you should know how all these three things work, and have the skills down to a T. But if you’re just starting out, you might not understand why they’re so important, which is why we’re going to break it all down for you.
Travel risk and the associated security management may have been temporarily paused due to Covid-19. But the need to manage the risks associated with the most important asset in any organization, its people, will continue to be an evolving challenge and a critical skill set for executive and close protection practitioners. — Dr. Gavriel Schneider F.ISRM
When we say power, we’re basically talking about information. Without information, your whole operation will fall through before you can say TRM. No matter if you’re on the ground or in a security operations center somewhere, you can’t function with the right data.
As we said earlier, you need to monitor, collect, analyze data so that you can prevent any threats in the future. Your reports should include all operational, travel, organizational, and terrorism risks. Also, there should be a list of cultural considerations, environmental concerns, and logistic limitations.
You can plan around those threats, and write better guidelines on how to handle them.
The next phase of your TRM plan involves securing your client when they’re traveling. You can do that by making sure you use only safe and vetted vehicles and drivers. Depending on their mode of transport, you also need to consider ground handling, as well as maritime security.
When you’re doing security for TRM, it all needs to be risk-based. You need to use all of your resources, as well as knowledge and research of the location to come up with a security plan. In TRM, you can’t go in blind into situations or without knowledge of all potential risk factors.
Another thing to keep in mind is that awareness training is vital for any security plan. No matter how high or low risk the location is, you need to train your traveler. You have to inform them about potential risks, as well as prepare them for all scenarios. Even though you and your team are handling the response, your traveler needs to know what they’re walking into.
If you’re moving any equipment, you need to think about who’s picking it up, transporting it, and how exactly they’re doing it. When you’re working with such sensitive and/or expensive things, you can’t leave absolutely anything to chance.
In case something goes wrong, you need to have an emergency plan and response ready at the drop of a hat. It needs to be robust, quick, and decisive because there’s usually no time to waste.
Also, once you make a decision, commit to it. By second-guessing yourself, you could be putting people’s lives at risk.
Executive travel risk management is one of the most fascinating jobs in the entire world, but it can also be incredibly stressful. There are countless moving pieces that you need to consider before you even think about coming up with a plan. It’s definitely not a job that you can do fresh out of boot camp, as it takes a lot of skill and experience.
But if you want to get your foot in the door, and start working toward an EP management role, you should consider applying to be a detail assistant. That job will give you an inside look into the industry, and it’ll teach you how to master the three pillars of TRM.
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