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Young professionals speak

Three young professionals brought together for a Security Institute webinar this morning, from various branches of security, had all reached positions of responsibility. It was useful, then, to learn how they went about their careers; and to hear how they admitted to feelings of ‘imposter syndrome’, writes Mark Rowe.

That’s when you go into a room, whether to meet your equivalent from another department; or you are attending some event and you don’t see anyone you know. How hard it can be, to start a conversation with someone that you don’t know! How clever everyone else sounds, how much more well-informed and confident than you feel! It was refreshing to hear the three admit to such things, that are only natural, and did not at all detract from their career progression so far – indeed, boded well for their development as leaders.

The three were two Chartered Security Professionals (CSyPs) Kate Bright, of UMBRA International; and Lee Sweeney, head of security at the Coventry Building Society; and Marlon Grant, of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) who spoke first, introduced by the two moderators, the co-chairs of the YMG (Young Professionals Group): Ana Spiridonova and Camilla Scrimgeour.

Fell into it

It was striking also how even these hard-working and able security people ‘fell into’ the industry – not a new idea; Prof Martin Gill of Perpetuity has stressed it in his research published a year ago, into influences on career choices. But it does pose the question how is the sector going to find talent – let alone diverse young people – if they don’t know about security. Marlon Grant spoke first; he’s at the Department for Work and Pensions, in vetting, which he ‘fell into’ after working in various sectors.

While there was much to learn from all three – how they have progressed; their advice (‘take every opportunity to mentor and be mentored’ – Kate Bright), and where they see their next training and development needs. It was noteworthy that while they didn’t discount security-specific qualifications – far from it, Lee Sweeney began as a hospital security officer and took the certificate and diploma in security management through the Institute – he saw himself picking up non-security skills, whether about business (such as project management) and in leadership.

The webinar also served to show the breadth of potential jobs within the security umbrella as it were – Marlon Grant beginning the hour by admitting that he had worked in different sectors and had not known of such jobs as vetting. Progress, whether as a person or in an organisation, sounded as much about knowing yourself – including your weaknesses – as gaining initials after your name. Having nous; being inquisitive, as Marlon said at the close.

The webinar also heard warm words about diversity; that the security industry ought to be representative of clients and society that it serves. “It’s for all of us to carry that battle forward,” Lee said.

Separately, and talking of diversity and inclusion, the Institute’s latest body, a Rainbow Group, had an online launch last week, having arisen out of the Institute’s inclusivity special interest group (SIG).

More in the January 2022 print edition of Professional Security magazine.

Next on the Institute calendar is a gala awards dinner in London on November 30; and a Christmas social on December 9.


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