Careers in executive protection are as diverse as the protective details, which take place globally. These are frightening times, and people want to feel safe. Just because a protectee (i.e., the principal) is mobile does not mean that aggressors will not find a way to stay a step ahead of their protection counterparts.
Contract and proprietary protective services must seek to employ and assign the best suited for the detail! We do this by debunking certain myths and misconceptions regarding what the EP agent should look like. And what the young security professionals perceive as what organizations and principals are looking for in an executive protection agent.
The misconception of an EP agent to a young security professional ― or any layperson to the executive protection field ― will mainly consist of the bodybuilder with the dark suit, earpiece, and sunglasses. Not to mention the image is usually and unjustly portrayed as a male.
A Hypothetical Situation
The portrayal above is a combination of Hollywood and ignorance. The general perception of the executive protection agent primarily inclines toward what sells.
Let us examine a hypothetical situation:
XYZ International, a financial firm, has one of its C-Suite members visiting Athens, Greece ― which has a considerably high crime rate ― to meet a potentially lucrative new client. Human Resources, in conjunction with the C-Suite principal, are interviewing two contracted services to accompany and provide close protection during the trip.
The two candidates walk in: a 6’4″ muscular male in a suit and a 5’8″ athletic female in a suit. Both candidates have impeccable credentials. However, they accept the male candidate solely because he fits the “bodybuilder” image of someone who “nobody would want to mess with.” He ends up getting the position due to that.
Injudiciously on the part of the principal, the female candidate speaks Greek. She is also versed in the area’s culture the principal is traveling to because a family member lives in the immediate vicinity.
Although this is a specific, hypothetical situation, its purpose is to show the misconception of what laypersons and young professionals automatically conceptualize when thinking about executive protection and how some employers might judge applicants.
The Strategic Art of Executive Protection
Fearful times have forced people to think more outside the box and away from stereotypical imagery. Threats and aggressors are genuine and are changing every day. More and more employers are looking for more than muscles.
Executive protection is a strategic art. The more intricate the detail, the more strategically versed the executive protection agent(s) must be. Furthermore, when the term “young professionals” might allude to only that of a young age. Remember, a student of any acumen can be of any age.
Another variable to the misconception of executive protection as a career is that it is exclusively reserved for current and retired law enforcement or military. Granted, having someone with law enforcement or military experience is a significant force multiplier in the protective picture.
However, this is not always a mandated checkbox in becoming an EP agent and what unfairly makes young careerists acquiesce to not pursuing a career in executive protection.
Anyone from a frontline security officer to a security operations manager can develop their career in the EP business. The trick is to realize that it is not simply a “You’re hired!” and “Here is your 40-hour week schedule!” kind of thing.
A Professional in Executive Protection
EP is demanding, and in most instances, depending on the detail, the hours are not usually during business hours. The principal may feel they do not need any protection. This is why it is essential to get a taste for the field. Also, the buck does not stop with the close protection agent.
There are numerous opportunities for analytical positions in the executive protection field. An EP agent’s support system is critical to ensure the completion of the objective.
So how does a young security professional get exposed to opportunities to work in executive protection? ― BE PROACTIVE!
There are not many mind readers out there. First, suppose you are working in a frontline security function such as a security officer for a contracted security service. In that case, you must let your management know that you are interested in any opportunities for EP details that come up.
Second, you cannot achieve anything great without passion and initiative. You have to go out and get it if you want it.
Some executive protection opportunities may not surface for months, especially during the last 16 months with COVID-19. Do your research and learn more about the field by networking with executive protection agents who can share a wealth of their knowledge: 99.9% of the time at no cost.
These are the same mentors who will guide young professionals towards organizational membership to use these tools to succeed and start.
Keep Learning and Improving
Most importantly, do not get discouraged if you cannot become involved with a protective detail right away, especially if you are a frontline security officer. The perspective of duty helps develop an optimistic mindset and sustains until that protective detail becomes available.
Suppose somebody assigns you to a security post in a building lobby that houses three global tenants with C-Suite personnel. You know that these individuals (principals) come through the entrance at a specific time. Thus, YOU are contributing to their protection. YOU are their executive protection agent, even if for a brief moment.
Executive protection is, no question, a diverse field with numerous opportunities. The current threat and fear levels around the globe are on the rise. Therefore, the security industry needs a fresh perspective and talent regardless of what people see purely on the outside.
Also, it is crucial to understand that most protective details may not be as glamorous as pictured. They may involve multitasking and cooperation from other team members and local, federal, or global entities.
Professionals in executive protection, new and seasoned, must immerse themselves in the role and seek continuing education and mentorship during downtime. Just like the head of a wooden spear. The more you sharpen it, the more effective when it comes time to use.