Travel Risk Management & Crisis Response

Executive Protection for the C-Suite

  Randy Haight

By: Randy Haight, FocusPoint International

Whether you are a well-known Silicon Valley giant or a mid-sized company conducting business globally, somewhere, sometime you will have to give some thought to providing extra protection for one or more members of the “C-Suite” or other key employees of the company. How will you respond? The decisions you make now may make a difference on how successful you will be in the future.

Has your team conducted a Personal Security and Vulnerability Assessment (PSVA) for all executive level members of your team? This assessment tells you what you don’t know. You cannot execute a sound security plan without knowing what your vulnerabilities are. A comprehensive PSVA should include an examination of current security practices (or a lack thereof) employed by your team. The PSVA should also examine security measures at the executive’s home and while he or she travels. Importantly, a comprehensive PSVA will examine the exposure of the executive and their family through their “online footprint” which includes social media, published news and other aspects available in open source information.

Does your company track aberrant communications targeting your company or its personnel? Do you have a systematic process in place to receive, evaluate and track threatening communications?

Having conducted a thorough PSVA and determined the threat and exposure to your executives and other potential protectees, you can now make an informed decision on whether or not you actually need to provide enhanced protection, and to what level.

Once you have made a decision to provide some sort of enhanced protection for your personnel, you need to figure out how will you accomplish this? Will it be a full time ‘detail’ or just an ad-hoc security presence? Will you utilize members of your in-house security team or will you sub-contract these duties to an outside security provider? Let’s examine your options.

Should you choose to utilize in-house personnel, are they properly trained and equipped? Executive protection security personnel are specifically trained for this function. Assigning personnel who have not been properly trained will be problematic and may lead to some embarrassing, if not, costly mistakes. Additionally, many states and jurisdictions set forth specific licensing requirements for those involved in executive protection. For instance in California, executive protection may only be performed by licensed security guards employed by a licensed security provider.

While your team can certainly post personnel at the door of the executive’s suite, they will not be able to provide executive protection duties when traveling to and from the office unless they are properly licensed.

What if your executive needs protection when he or she decides to attend a high-profile event in another state? What about when traveling to another country? As you can see, the security paradigm continues to grow exponentially.

On the other hand, you may choose to sub-contract these duties out to a team of professionals who are properly trained and licensed in the jurisdiction in which your executive primarily operates. The problem still remains when your executive has to travel to another state or country. You have to have a team that can operate wherever your executive is traveling. This requires more than a local security team. You need to identify a resource or resources that have proven capabilities and a global reach.

While there are a myriad of companies who can provide professional and competent services locally, few can provide this in multiple jurisdictions let alone in a foreign country. Talk to other security executives to see what they are doing and who they are using; but don’t just take their word for it, conduct your own inquiries. You should be asking potential security providers where they are licensed. You should examine their past performance. Have they demonstrated their capabilities in delivering executive protection services in other countries? Can they deliver these services in the countries where you know or expect your team will be traveling? Many companies claim they can provide services globally, but only a few can truly deliver on that promise. The last thing you want is your chief executive to be calling you from the airport in Nigeria telling you that the security team you arranged for is not there.

This brings us back to the original issue. The decisions you make now will affect your future success.