David Rubens – Twenty Years and Counting…

David Rubens, Managing Director of David Rubens Associates
David Rubens, Managing Director of David Rubens Associates

In David Rubens eleventh exclusive article for Infologue.com, he takes a look at the development of the security industry. David writes; “There are occasionally significant moments in one’s life – roadmarkers, if you will – where it is natural to take a step back, and review the road travelled and that which lies ahead.

“On 24th March I was elected to the Main Board of the Security Institute, something which makes me feel both proud and humble, and following the election, and a few glasses of wine with fellow Security Institute members, rather than go directly home, I wandered to Regents Park and spent an hour walking in the dark, alone with my thoughts.

“As someone who appeared on the very first list of Door Supervisor training providers put out by Westminster Council in October 1992, it is possible that I can lay claim to being the longest surviving security trainer in the country, and it seems strange to think that what started out twenty years ago as a nascent ‘Charm School for Bouncers’ had led me to the position I am today. I have been lucky enough to ride the wave of the professionalisation of the private security industry from its very beginnings to the point where not only is it recognised that a Masters degree in Security and Risk Management is almost prerequisite for getting into corporate security management (a term which itself did not then exist as we recognise it today), but there are now real plans to introduce Doctorate level studies in security and risk management over the next couple of years.

“The single most significant change in those twenty years, of course, was the introduction of the licensing programme that started out as the various Door Safe-related programmes run on a council-by-council basis, and which led to the SIA programme as we know it today. I am still convinced that the opportunity to create an entry-level qualification into the security sector that would have led to a truly professional, well-trained and self-motivating tertiary security force has been missed, and that the SIA should be held accountable for the conceptual and organisational failures of its first years. However, I am also prepared to accept that the introduction of the SIA licensing programme has opened up a genuine career path to many people who would otherwise have few options to benefit from a well-recognised professional development process that could lead in a relatively short time from entry-level manned guarding positions to Team Leader and then on to management positions. The private security industry is possibly the only sector in the UK where there are so many options available to the self-motivating individual, whether it is setting up their own small company, joining a larger security company which will give them the possibilities to move to the management side and become client-facing, or to join an in-house team and work their way up through that career-development path.

“In a parallel trend, there has also been the development of the academic side of security management, and there is now a wide range of degree-level programmes covering every aspect of security management. In fact, as someone who is involved in the lecturing and dissertation supervising side of academic security management programmes, I believe that there has been a significant dropping of academic standards as the programmes have been opened up to the wider world, and academic institutions are under pressure to become income-generating as well as degree-producing. However, for those people who might be considering a career as an architect, engineer, dentist or scientist, the possibility of becoming a well-trained professional security manager, backed by a formal academic qualification, is a career option that did not exist twenty years ago.

“The security industry as a whole, having been through its unruly and slightly chaotic teenage years, is now undoubtedly entering a period of maturity, where the leaders of our sector are looking for ways in which we can create the frameworks that will allow us to play a full part in facing the challenges that the coming years will undoubtedly bring. The Security Institute, The Worshipful Company of Security Professionals, the Register of Chartered Security Professionals are all signs of an industry that is comfortable with itself and confident in its role as ‘thought leaders’ in all aspects of security and risk management. Those organisations are not merely the opportunity to meet up with old friends and tell old stories to new members (though that is undoubtedly part of it….), but they are repositories of knowledge and experience that will be of critical importance in developing a professional security sector that will be fit-for-purpose for the coming years.

“It would have been almost impossible, twenty years ago, to have foreseen how the security industry would have grown and developed to the state in which it finds itself today. There were undoubtedly many mistakes that were made upon the way, and there will undoubtedly be many more mistakes made in the future, but overall and on balance, I think that we can look with pride at the sector that we have all worked together to create, and I look forward with both anticipation and confidence to seeing how our community continues to develop in the years to come.”

David Rubens has been involved in UK security consultancy for twenty years. He holds an MSc in Security and Risk Management (Leicester University), and is a Visiting Lecturer and Dissertation Supervisor on their Security, Terrorism and Policing MSc programme. He was a Visiting Lecturer on the Strategic Leadership Programme at the Security and Resilience Department, Cranfield University, UK Defence Academy (2009-’10), focusing on terrorism & public policy and the management of large-scale, multi-agency operations. He has written specialist reports for government agencies in Japan, Russia, Dubai, Nigeria, Liberia and the Caribbean, and is highly-regarded as a speaker on the international security circuit. He is currently on the Professional Doctorate programme at Portsmouth University Department of Criminology & Justice, where his research is concerned with the strategic management of security operations at the extremes of organisational complexity. He can be contacted at david@davidrubens-associates.com/www.davidrubens-associates.com

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