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Assistant Editor, IFSEC Insider & SHP

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Rhianna Sexton is IFSEC Insider's Assistant Editor. Rhianna manages and uploads content, carries out interviews with leading figures in the fire and security sector, and reports on the latest news and events from the industry. Rhianna is also Assistant Editor of IFSEC Insider's sister title, SHP.
November 30, 2022

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Whitepaper: Multi-residential access management – The move to digital

G4S Academy: ‘A great powerhouse of wisdom creation’ – In conversation with Noah Price

IFSEC Global sits down with G4S’ International Academy Director Noah Price, to discuss the G4S Academy, knowledge sharing within the firm and how it can have a ripple-effect of staying ahead of competitors and keeping customers engaged.

As you’ll read below, the G4S Academy aims to support the wider business in ultimately delivering integrated security services, helping its people take advantage of the latest innovations and therefore deliver better results to delay, detect and respond to incidents.

IFSEC Global (IG): Hi Noah, could you explain what the G4S Academy does?

Noah Price, International Academy Director at G4S

Noah Price (NP): The academy was formed in 2017 and is a specialist function across our businesses internationally. It is essentially a network of specialists where we harness the knowledge and the expertise of a select group of individuals across the business who are experts in multiple categories of our security products, or a specialist in a particular sector or  function.

These specialists come together to form our ‘SIGs’ or Special Interest Groups – and there’s no limit on the number of groups we can create. A SIG can just be two people talking by a water cooler, or it could be several people holding formal meetings. COVID-19 has accelerated the digital platform for SIGs to communicate and collate knowledge, turning it into wisdom. These brilliant nuggets of wisdom are fed out of those SIGs into the collective academy ‘brain’, or repository as we call it, which is dispersed out amongst the business.

By harnessing this wisdom, we are able to create greater value for ourselves but most importantly for our customers. We are constantly co-creating new solutions, new innovations, marketing materials, white papers – essentially deliverables so it’s always evolving, and the reason it is always evolving is because the ‘threat’ is always evolving.

We are a services business, a security business, but a security risk is created by a threat exploiting a vulnerability to obtain, damage, destroy or deny access to a valued asset. The threat doesn’t stand still, it’s always trying to outmaneuver us, so we always have to stay ahead of a world of ever-changing and evolving risks.

IG: In the International division that you oversee, does training vary depending on the countries that staff are in?

NP: Every market, every country, every region is different, and they all have different freedoms and constraints so one size doesn’t fit all, and we’re very cognisant of that. There are generic trainings and deliverables that we give, but sometimes they have to be bespoke to the particular market, region, sector or country.

Specialists are essentially the backbone of the academy, especially as they come from all different countries and regions across the business. Each region has regional academy partners and then under them we have country partners – so there is a head of an academy in a particular country or business unit, and then under them you have your specialists. Through this chain of command, there is the understanding of the market or business unit of the particular area. This means the lessons we are delivering or receiving upwards can be adapted accordingly.

IG: How does academy communication work effectively across the different countries?

NP: The academy is a network of networks. We are breaking down these siloes and boundaries, to get information flowing in all different directions so that it all arrives into this academy ‘brain’ and then we disseminate it out to those that need it and make it accessible and understandable by different people across the world.

A challenge in being a global company is that not everybody speaks English, so we add nuances and translations so that it is of value to everybody. Virtual sessions have been a massive enabler in allowing this to happen – to hold an international knowledge sharing session or international desktop exercise wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago, but now it is and it’s almost like you’re in a room together. It’s amazing to see, impart, co-create and innovate knowledge with all different people across the world. It is so incredibly powerful.

IG: How does the academy approach education on emerging trends and changes?

NP: The major thrust of the academy is to deliver integrated security solutions with what we call our risk-based approach. It’s almost like professionalising security to truly understand how best to harness the ever-changing technologies – another area that doesn’t stand still – technology is an enabler, it’s not a replacement of security officers or people on the ground, but it will make them more efficient in what they do.

We’re looking to maximise the efficiency of our resources on the ground, coming back to the value that we deliver to our customers and all the time looking for better ways of doing things to be more efficient, and also reduce the risk that our customers face. If a new technology becomes available for example, we want to make sure that it’s appropriate for our customers and whether or not we can integrate it into an integrated solution.

We want to educate, not just the specialists, but the rest of the business that these are the different technologies of processes or procedures and how best to harness those mitigation strategies and bring them together cohesively.

We hold regular knowledge sharing sessions, which is how we get information out to our people on the frontline. We might hold one of these sessions about a product or service, and how it can be adapted into a security solution. We hold sessions at all kinds of levels, international or regional – it depends on the utility of the new product or service that we want to discuss.

We also educate people through a desktop scenario exercise, and get people working in teams to work through how they would solve that challenge with an array of products or services – and it’s down to them to pick the solution for the customer. There’s no right or wrong way to build a solution – it’s not a ‘failed, you got it wrong’, it’s about resourcing the correct security effects of detect, delay and respond. For 99.9% of all security solutions you have to resource those three effects.

Thinking about your own home for example, you are detecting – you want to know if a robber is coming down the road, and then you’d want to delay that robber from coming into your house and if they do, you’d want to be able to respond to it. These aren’t new, they are age-old principles, but it’s how you resource those effects.

It’s about a whole array of different ways of getting information into people’s heads, through explaining, demonstrating it to them and then getting them to imitate and practice it. We can’t just give one knowledge sharing session and expect them to be experts – it’s a constant process of upping people’s understanding and furthering that delivery of information.

I think it’s fair to say that most companies have siloes of information – ‘it’s my information I’m not going to let you have it’ – and it’s back to that changing of behaviour and culture in security and getting people to see the value of sharing and co-creation.

Ultimately, it’s the best thing for our customers – in order to win trust, you never want to lose the customer or contract, you want to continue to be adding value.

Listen to the IFSEC Insider podcast!

Each month, the IFSEC Insider (formerly IFSEC Global) Security in Focus podcast brings you conversations with leading figures in the physical security industry. Covering everything from risk management principles and building a security culture, to the key trends ahead in tech and initiatives on diversity and inclusivity, the podcast keeps security professionals up to date with the latest hot topics in the sector.

Available online, and on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts, tune in for an easy way to remain up to date on the issues affecting your role.

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