• Michael Padilla-Pagan Pay

Looking for the Right Risk and Security Provider? Stop Buying the Brand…

Many companies are finding it challenging to operate in high-risk and complex environments. Despite their claims, not every risk and security provider actually has this capability to operate there. And it is hard to blame them. They are based in Europe or the USA, and lack the local capabilities, cultural understanding as well as the ability to speak the languages. Their presence in the area is virtual.

The security provider should be a key to success, helping companies in business growth strategy. A well-connected and highly flexible ground operation can be leveraged for future endeavors – to research, to explore, and to enter and prosper in other hostile and emerging markets.

Cushy Life of Large Brands

Large Brands own or rent posh offices and offer employees a cushy life. Personalized chairs, balance balls, table tennis, bricks and old-fashioned look, bean bags and meditation rooms -- all in the name of “happy employee, productive employee.”

But is this really the ideal workplace? Do not get me wrong, gyms and in-house coffee houses are great, but they have little to do with what makes the environment truly productive. As this is true for the people who work there as well as for the organization they work for – and its mission.

To me, the ideal company is less a place than an environment and an attitude. It is an ecosystem in which members share levels of trust and common purpose that provide a foundation for which individuals and teams are empowered with information and enough authority to use it. It's not about free ice cream and dry cleaning, what’s free is information that flows across the team to where it is most useful. The price of admission is a willingness to collaborate, even when there is no apparent transnational advantage. It is a faith-based approach to operation, with no connection to religion. The faith lies in a belief that we are all entitled to share our wisdom and capabilities to address the things we must do.

Creating the ideal workplace is about far more than leasing attractive office space and buying “hip” art. It carries the stiff price of a disciplined commitment to transparency and constant accountability to norms that stress the team’s values and mission.

True Value of a True Provider

Companies need to make informed decisions. It relies upon accurate and relevant information and advice. True provider assists in this initial analysis, aiding the company in determining its risk appetite, budget, agenda, opportunity and even who to send as their initial emissary.

The investment in a new or emerging market is not new, only that violence and terrorism has increased. With that said, an investment made by a company can be significant. Yet, it is in this initial venture that companies have the highest relative risk because they are sending one of their best suited and most qualified employees to assess the situation in real-time. In this, it takes a company (the true provider) that knows how to operate in such conditions; a company that approaches things in a low-profile manner; and one that has the local ground contacts and understanding of the social risk. Thus, the most important part of enterprise risk management is to ensure that this “Tasking” is adequately secured, supported, and protected. With this trip, a lot is at stake: the brand of the company, new revenue stream and market share, the future of thousands of employees, but most of all – a life of the one undertaking the journey.

Expeditionary services is a niche expertise, and a service not every company can perform. It entails local contacts and knowledge to be able to support a customer in planned and unplanned situations. It takes people on the ground and an overwatch team who can preemptively evaluate and analyze the local environment and agenda ahead of any mission and who can flexibly adjust it to the dynamic ground conditions.  Also, a dual tasking could be required, which is the identification and establishment of networks and providers for follow-up visits or sustained trading once established.

This expeditionary support has yielded considerable returns in mapping the competitive landscape, identifying and reviewing potential partners, analyzing of social risks, assessing political risk and operational risks, or in due diligence and investigations.

With the right planning, people and support, there is nowhere you cannot do business. This is why our motto has endured for decades: We enable customer to sustain operations in any environment.

How to Find a True Provider

Big brands thrive on being the low hanging fruit for companies looking for a risk mitigation solution in a selected volatile region. Ask yourself these questions: Is your big brand actually working on the ground or is it hiring local company that actually does the work? Do you get added value for having this intermediate element, do they have own representatives in the country? Do you get a real sentiment of the environment and ground intelligence, or a news summary from open sources? Doing this homework might be a good exercise for any security manager. It will save money. It may save lives. 

For true providers like us it may be a difficult task to persuade companies, CEOs and security managers to perform this thorough check and homework. But it is worth saying it aloud though.

Using the right partner is the right approach in anything in life. Seek reference and do not leverage so-called large brands if you want the ground truth. Look for companies who actually work on the ground. You want a partner who has developed business acumen, international planning expertise, local knowledge, and contacts. Understand that security starts before the airport gate opens. Operating in some of the world’s most challenging environments -- these companies, the true providers -- are the new frontier in profitability, market expansion and the future of new, smarter businesses.


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