As I write this article, with tongue in cheek, super biased and very subjectively with half a smile on my face, while going down memory lane, I hope it doesn’t offend anyone. I feel like everything these days needs a disclaimer. I think the conclusion, however, will show what I had in mind and that we are all in this together.
The history of executive protection is thousands of years long and has undergone many changes along the way to get to where we are today. In recent times there has been a noticeable changing of the guards.
The current iteration of young EP professionals has less to worry about than the old school professionals, on the job side that is. The threats however are more sophisticated than ever. Most things are structured and laid out for them. There is a path to follow for training and advancement in most EP career jobs today, if the company/leadership is worth their salt.
When I say old school, I’m talking about the agents that have been in the game the last 15-25 years.
First off – The Dying Breed
When I first entered the dark secret world of EP 20 years ago, it was shrouded in secrecies and closely guarded by the people in the industry. It was hard to find an “in”. There was no real advertisement online. There were some internet Forums you could join and some domestic staffing agencies, that had sporadic residential positions.
You still had to browse the “security” section in the LA Times and sign up with as many security companies as possible, to be on a call list, but even that was hard, if you didn’t have any experience or a network to “vouch” for you.
How we got it done with McNally maps and pagers is beyond me.
Back then you had to fight for it a lot harder than now. These days EP opportunities are served on a platter of website and social media platforms and the end-user offers training and benefits and a world of other things. This is what the latest round of EP agents entering the industry expects and will be used to in the future.
Back in the Day-Rate Days
In the old days you would be on your 7th night shift in a row from 1900-0700 and then leave straight to a shooting course, that you had to pay for yourself and move your shifts around to make it fit the schedule, without having to take time off, so you didn’t lose money.
You would then shoot all day and drive straight back to shift again and then finally after 36hrs get some sleep! But we were hungry back then, hungry to learn and train and loved every minute of it. Willing to do whatever it took. I feel that hunger has somewhat left the latest round of EP agents and it has become a normal “job”.
We trained in our off time; now off time has to be respected and is not for training. We could never have to many knives. If you ask a new agent for a flashlight today he will show you his iPhone light. We lifted heavy weights, now it is CrossFit. We trained defensive tactics until there was blood and we did PT tests until we puked.
Now, you can’t do DT because of liability and you can’t do PT testing because God forbid someone can’t pass it…and then what?
These days all I hear about is “the range is too far away”, “do I really have to go, it’s kind of cold outside or raining”, “do I get lunch-break?”, “will the company pay for a car wash, my car got dirty driving on the range road”, “do I get my gas reimbursed?” Yes, these are all true quotes that I have heard in the last 4 years.
They don’t know how well they have it in EP in 2021!
No School like the Old School
The dying breed would have given their right arm to have today’s opportunities. We had to chase everything back then often out of own pocket in our spare time.
The expectations as seen everywhere else in the corporate world, has made it to the EP industry as well. In 10 years 80% of the job market will be millennials and the old breed of EP guys will have died out and only the “stories” will be left.
Stories that this new version of EP agents might not be able to relate to as the old school guys were often asked to deal with matters that would either offend or scare this new era. Back then you lived in a grey zone. For the first decade or more I never had an onboarding session, never spent time with anyone in HR.
Never had any interactions with any legal team, didn’t have to run any client requests through anyone, except maybe briefing someone, that I would be spending xyz money or needing xyz to get a request or project done. The EP teams I grew up with werw basically left alone to do what was requested by the “boss/Mr” and no one interfered. No PO’s, no MSA’s.
Well times have certainly changed.
These days everything must be by the book for better or worse and rightfully so. Times change and professions mature to keep up with the world as it changes. I for one am super excited to see the progression and matureness that has entered in the last decade and made a career field.
I will, however, remember and reminisce about the old days for many years to come.
Enter – The New Breed
In today’s world, the EP agent has to be more adept to learning and using new technology, a concept some of the old school guys either can’t or won’t keep up with, which will only accelerate their way out of the industry. You cannot fear change and should instead embrace it as it offers longevity in the industry.
It kills me seeing the old school guys complaining about not finding work. Yet they spent 20 years only training in shooting and driving and medical courses, when they should have taken management courses and other training preparing them to step into leadership roles. As the saying goes “you can’t be a shooter forever”.
The new era agents will have many more opportunities for this path as most corporate companies have strategies in place to facilitate this. Many more types of courses, money for school, rotating monthly training, career progression etc.,
I can’t emphasize strongly enough: it is time for the old school guys, the dying breed to get on the wagon of the future or be left behind.
The Guards, guns and gates days are over, even the guards, guns, gates and gigabyte era is about to fall. These days the gigabytes run the gates and guards. The IoT world if here and we have to adjust our EP agents to it. Think about the EPTO – executive protection technology officer, concept as I have laid out in other previous blogs.
I have been a big advocate of bringing EP into the 21st century for a long time. I realized over a decade ago you must evolve or face extinction. Anyone who knows me knows I am a big believer in technology and the leverage it gives us, and I understand we need the right people in the industry to handle it.
We always hear “you cant teach an old dog new tricks” I have to call BS and say maybe the old dogs don’t want to learn the new tricks, but they easily could. Don’t be stubborn, embrace the new era. Ask a new young guy how tech works, and he will be happy to show you. Maybe he will ask about the old days and you can tell a story in return.
The dark secrecy era of EP is over, and it is time to start embracing its latest version. As much as it can annoy us old schoolers to listen to the current set of complaints, that we cannot understand, we have to realize the times have changed and the new generation has changed with it.
And if perception is reality, then these complaints are true and valid to this generation and we have to accept that and move the industry into the 2020s, catering to this to keep executive protection an exciting career to choose, so the pipelines don’t dry up.
The demand is bigger than ever. Just look at LinkedIn’s job section. It is a great time to be in EP for everyone and you’ll even get a paid lunchbreak.