How to be a good Site Security Officer in the Field?

‘How to’ series: 1/ 1 of 3

Site security management remains the foundation of any Security system in the Field. Situation further accentuates if this function has to be performed in the trying milieu of Security prone areas. This importance in view, I shall cover this important topic in a series of three articles on how a Field Security Officer (FSO), on sites of different industries should be.

Professionalism, knowledge of the area demography, requisite liaison with the authorities and the right attitude are the precursor attributes for this important function, and hence are not being dilated upon here in much detail.  Absence of any of these should rather not qualify one to be an FSO.  Background check, interaction during interview/ entry test

and close monitoring during the probation period can be handy to preclude missing out on the above mentioned personality traits. Any shortcoming on these aspects should be given serious pondering with regards to retention of a Security officer under review.

Talking about the other finer aspects now, these are in relation to site leadership & other colleagues, Security personnel & Corporate Security in case of MNCs/ larger companies, and external elements including locals & contractors. There is no measure available to prioritise these importance-wise. It would always depend on the industry, situation and area of company operations. Let’s take these one by one.

Considerations would remain the same or similar may it be a single owner’s company, an MNC or other corporate entities. However, the sensitivities would differ. I shall restrict the analysis to more than small-sized or single-site companies. By and large the sensitivities would remain the same only differing in magnitude. Focal considerations are:

  • Site leadership mostly would be a technical manager, usually lesser in age/ service years. A good FSO will maintain good rapport with him/her while striking a balance between sufficiently informing and unnecessarily passing the irrelevant concerns to the site leadership.
  • Try and understand the company business in sufficient details. This will help you design and provide befitting Security management. 
  • Gaining confidence of the site leadership and the contemporary non-Security leaders on the site is very important. This emanates from formal yet frank and open interaction. Working relationship springs out from becoming a team member, sharing, caring and devoting time. Some FSOs find it difficult to mingle with different members of the site. This can be counter-productive and can lead to seclusion.
  •  Mutual respect remains very important. Security officer has to sometimes discuss or share sensitive matters and information, remain firm on Security protocols and still maintain working relations. This can only happen if one has confidence of all through an apt behaviour.
  • FSO must take part in all formal/ informal meetings and occasions. If needed, one must keep striving to gradually become part of these. Remember, they would only keep the FSO off if no benefit is envisaged in doing otherwise.
  • Informal interaction to an appropriate extent with all at the site including contractors’ staff and even those visiting the site can always be handy in gauging the overall pulse of the surroundings. Hence FSO must be accessible and confided shoulder to share.
  • Some FSOs go wrong by dressing and conducting themselves differently than the bulk of site members. It creates unnecessary gap, which widens with time. In many compliant companies, use of PPEs and following different safe HSE practices and other good organisational behaviour’s dictates is rather mandatory. Remember, FSO must champion these compliances through personal conduct and remain part of the site team.
  • Always seek feedback on whether the site members and leadership feel secure under the umbrella of the site security.
  • Carry out regular Security drills and exercises with the site members partaking. Do consult site leadership about the right time to conduct announced and impromptu drills. Always debrief in the end.
  • Keep the site leadership and members informed of the Security climate in the area. They should never be surprised on matters, which might imperil their security.
  • Try and resolve their official or personal problems by reaching out and becoming available. This can only happen if they confide in the FSO.
  • Help develop rapport between site leadership and corporate Security by ensuring that those visiting the site from Security department must meet the site leadership and interact regularly so that they understand the bigger picture from Security angle.
  • Keep your character and credibility beyond reproach. This hold good for all segments of the organisation but is a must for the security officers and personnel.

These were some of the very basic but important aspects concerning FSOs vis-à-vis site leadership and members. We shall deal with other two aspects in the next article of this “How to” series.

Author: M Zubair Chughtai

Muhammad Zubair Chughtai 193-E, Street 6, Askari-10, Lahore Pakistan Phone: +92-336-0011550 — E-Mail: mzuberch@gmail.com — linkedin.com/in/muhammad-zubair-chughtai-2b798443 Summary Being a self-driven, result-oriented, change leader, skilled at articulating strategic road maps & execution models with broad experience in security management, integrated security & support services delivery, security risk management, loss prevention, investigations, business continuity, administration and general management, be a useful member of progressive outfits. Bringing my 35 years of military, corporate, cross-cultural-exposure, professional orientation and diversity to good use, be a dynamic team player and change agent. Experience Corporate Experience Jun 2010 - Mar 2019 • MOL Pakistan Country Head Security. Joined as Site Security Officer, promoted Security Coordinator in 8 months and Country Head Security since 2012 (reporting line – CEO in Pakistan and with technical reporting to the Corporate Security in Hungary). Performed following functions: Ø Security management of one drilling site to the entire country-level having ~50 major and minor sites spread over the entire Kohat Division, erstwhile FATA, Punjab and the company office in Islamabad Ø Liaison and intimate rapport with Government, LEAs (Armed forces/police & intelligence) and influential circles on important company/ Security matters in sync with Corporate Affairs Director Ø Rendered professional advice to the company top management & Corporate Office on managing company present and future operations within the prevailing Security climate/ challenges thereof Ø Intimate liaison and collaboration with all contemporary Level-2/3 managers on operational matters Ø Being member of Company Executive Board, rendered advice on top company level matters, issues and major Technical, Administration & Supply Chain management contracts for decision making Ø Direct administration of more than 1000 Security personnel (including 3 Lt Cols, 13 Majs and 4 other officers), which encapsulated contract management, relief/ rotation, performance management, etc Ø VIP protection at sites/ residences and on the move with elaborate technical security cover Ø Security management of over 20-25 convoys per day intra-area of operations in KP and also from/to Islamabad office under a well-documented journey management in close sync with Administration Ø Kept risks levels at ALARP through deployment of Security resources after due diligence including deliberate and documented Security risk assessment Ø Crisis management and BCM in the trying milieu of Pakistan. Providing inputs for future BD to include acquisition of new acreages in Punjab, Balochistan and Sindh. Made some such areas in KP accessible for company operations, where even the Police and other LEAs was reluctant to deploy Ø Direct support in implementing HSE and other compliances through coaching of Security personnel at all sites. Many of my Security team members were often declared compliance and Safety champions and awarded Ø Documented training to include theoretical & practical crisis management and other mock exercises/ drills (security specific and general) in collaboration with operational teams and Security specific Ø Developed a wholesome Technical Security system of Multi-layered Technical Security to include Security Control Room, CCTVs including state of the art FLIR long-range cameras, HID CAS encrypted system both in office & the Field, Vehicle/ Personnel Tracking System, Pipeline surveillance system, Boosters for VHF communication, Emergency door alarm system - linked with e-mail/SMS, Electronic doors and barriers, etc N.B. Developed a proper concept of Security management system in the company during my initial years in MOL while holding all tertiary to the highest position of the newly organized Security department

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