- Security TWENTY
- Women in Security
Every time I have the occasion to open LinkedIn, Paul Evans, MD, Carlisle Support Services is on the front page. This has been consistent since last year, so I thought it was time I met up with this security professional and find out more about him.
We arranged to meet at his office in Luton. Nicole Baker, Marketing Manager met me in reception and escorted me to one of the meeting rooms to await Evans. I started chatting to Nicole and within minutes Evans bounded into the room. His friendly personality was disarming yet met with my expectations of the character that I read about on LinkedIn. He has the air of a man with a purpose who gets thing done, with an energy that is palpable. My first question was how did he become involved with security. He explained that his father had been a police officer and when Evans informed him he was going into the private security industry his father laughed! Evans explained that the profile of a private security officer in those days was different from today.
His father had the same view as a lot of other police officers at that time. Evans said: “To an old senior police officer, private security officers were considered never to be in the right place at the right time … or needed waking up!” Paul has a natural comedic delivery as he tells the tale. He explained that his Dad’s impression of private security officers was from a long time ago, pre-SIA badging; and the improvement of standards and service delivery as we know it today. We talked at length about the way things were then and how the police and public had recognised the evolution of the security industry to the profession that it is.
The first security company Evans joined was the highly reputable Reliance, in May 2001 as a business development manager in Loughborough. After the great story about that initial declaration to his father about joining, he went on to talk at length about his time there. Having both known Ken Allison, Chairman of Reliance we chatted for some time about him and Evans remarked that Ken had given him some sound advice about the industry that has stuck with him. I was still in stitches from his rendition of his father’s early comments when he concluded his story of how he got into the industry by saying. “So, anyway my Dad said: “At least you are joining the number one security company”. So with his father’s approval that was the beginning of Evans’ journey within the security profession. Evans went on from Reliance to work for other security firms including Initial, Chubb and Mitie Total Security Management. By 2013 he joined Blue Arrow (Part of the Impellam Group) as Client Solutions Director. He remained part of the company’s Senior Management Team of six, reporting directly to the CEO. Blue Arrow provides permanent and temporary recruitment to six clearly defined market sectors: Retail and Supply Chain, Hospitality and FM, Manufacturing, Public Services, Transport and Professional Support Services … Security being one of those Support Services. While at Blue Arrow he acquired an invaluable skill regarding recruitment where merit and behaviour were key indicators.
He has transferred that experience to his current role of Managing Director of Carlisle, Support Services. I asked, given his experience, does he take people on merit now? Evans replied: “Yes, I absolutely do. I am not an academic recruiter. I will never ask anybody if they have been to university. They say you can teach skills, but you can’t change behaviours. I personally think that is quite important. People who come with the right ethics we assess and try to reality check around past behaviours in relation to what they have done in the past. So, part of the interview process we do for managers and people is very much around showing those traits and behaviours in terms of how they care. I think that is critical to where we want to be as a business.” This is where Evans goes from being funny to passionate about the business and the people in it. I said that there are lots of corporates that have caring messages that are promoted by skilled marketing people … what makes Carlisle different?
Evans enthusiastically replied: “I based the strategy on a vision and four values. Of course, we have a mission as well, but it is based on the vision. The vision is to be the most trusted by our employees our clients and our customers. In terms of how do we demonstrate that, we do so by following through.” Evans then went on to describe the many scenarios to back up this premise. He recalled: “It was quite interesting this morning. I was in Southend with a customer. As I drove down the A13, I drive literally past one of our sites. The dilemma was that I had conducted my meeting and should be heading back for my next meeting. Then I think what if they happen to see my car pass by? In reality they won’t be looking for my vehicle. But I think I should just nip in for a quick cup of tea, after all that would only take 15 minutes … but that 15 minutes becomes 45! For instance, you want to chat about family, how their Christmas went and just generally catch up. The next minute I am ringing Nicole! I am saying “I might be a bit late for the next meeting”!”
I looked towards Nicole who was smiling knowingly. Evens does strike you as someone who genuinely cares about the people he works with. He concluded that little narrative by saying: “It is recognising that on a day the most important thing is seeing the staff.” Again we discussed the welfare of staff and it was obvious that this was not a hat-tip to some marketing push, but the culture of the company led from the top. I was touched by the caring attitude demonstrated by strategies that were in place to ensure that this was not words but actions that resulted in the vision becoming a reality. To demonstrate Evans said: “The analogy I would use, and Nicole will tell you. When I got here, I went up to the seventh floor and turned on the tap! I explained that the water flowing from the top floor has to flow down to the ground floor.” I asked what floor is he on now in terms of the water, or vision. I had expected him to say the ground floor. He thought about it and said: “I still think we are on the fourth floor.” He further explained his analogy regarding the flow and drips, the cause and effect of implementing a culture from the top down. He wrapped the sketch around people and explained that talking about an idea is not enough … you must make it happen. He went on to say: “We created four values that we live by. The first being a sector based expert … a true sector based expert. You can create values, then people look at them, if they have no substance … how do we bring them to life? The answer is that we allow anybody in the business to be supported, helped, or trained to become a sector based expert. Therefore, they can come with requests and they are presented with a training directory. They are absolutely allowed to pick-and-choose. For example, we have people doing courses that have no relation to their current day job, but they are ambitious to move forward and have identified what they would like to do next. Therefore, we have aided them with financial support, time, and assistance around their chosen sector expert quest or ambition. The second core value is ‘Promise based Culture’ which is a platform that the Impellam Group brought in. Impellam are our parent company and this was their view. They wanted everyone to make a bold promise…they wanted people to think in a genuine way about what they would promise to do in their job role. Not just think … ’I will create a brochure’ but to think deeper. The idea is to go to the heart of the promise, feel the emotion … the idea is for the promise to comes from the heart … not the head.”
Evans explained further that once the promise is made it can change and innovate but is recognised and rewarded. As he was talking he pointed to to a wall in the general office which was populated with lots of hard copy communication. He said: “That is our ‘Promise Wall’ where all the management made promises to the business at our awards evening and innovation day. We don’t call it a conference because we champion the people. At the start of last year, we had one guy who said to me, “I am going to make my entire site paperless”. He happens to run a government organisation, which is interesting at this time. He said: “I am going to digitalise everything.” I sat there and said: “Well, that’s bold”! As I walked into his office I asked: “How much paper have you got? He pointed to the corner of this huge office and said: “There’s all my files for a year”. I couldn’t believe it, he literally had a whole corner of his office that was full of filing cabinets and I said: “You’re going to digitise all that”. By the time I returned in October last year he had done it! So that is an example of a promise.”
Evans went on to describe how they try to make the process enjoyable and encouraging on a peer to peer basis and recognise each other’s successes. Evans concluded: “So, the second value is when people can turn their work into where they can look back and say, ‘I did that, I absolutely did that’.” He went on to explain how their ‘promise’ is communicated through the business and their achievements publicised. His enthusiasm when talking about these core values cannot be described sufficiently, I could say passionate because that’s true but it’s more than that … he has a true sense of genuine commitment that is almost infectious. I was enjoying talking to him so much that the time flashed by and there was still so much to say. More next month with the Living Wage Foundation and the remaining core values.