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Building skills in security and risk management

Day 1 – Management of Risk

After a five hour drive from Team Rubicon HQ I finally arrived at the Emergency Planning College in Easingwold, Yorkshire. So what was I doing here?

To answer that question I should probably give a quick introduction. Having spent seven years in the military, as a human terrain analyst and cultural specialist, I left in 2014 to help establish a charity in the Slovak Republic and an online start up. Since returning to the UK I have spent the last six months as a full time volunteer at Team Rubicon UK, working as an Operations Coordinator.

As such I decided that I wanted to formalise and build on my experience, and so when I heard about the Security and Risk Management Consultants course (SRMC) it sounded perfect to develop my career and improve the skillset that I can offer as a Greyshirt.

Therefore I was here, ready for the next thirteen days, not sure what to expect. So how did the first day go? Well to start with, after introductions from the staff and students, we got stuck in straight away. Whilst it was a bit of a shock, it was great to see a course utilising every available minute to impart knowledge and training, rather than the usual first day admin.

Our instructor for the day was David Tait, a security risk consultant and co-founder of Athena Risk (and an alumni of the course). We started off by covering the ISO 31000 which is the standardized framework for management of risk and a key foundation in being able to assess and manage risk.

In the afternoon we moved onto Country and Regional Risk Assessments. After an initial overview and explanation, we broke down into groups to attempt one of our own. To finish the day we presented our findings to the rest of the class, with David providing us with feedback and advice.

This has been a great start to what is being to be a really exciting and informative course!

Days 2 and 3 – Country Risk Assessments and Travel Risk Management

It is just the end of Day 3 and it is amazing to think how much we have covered and learnt and such a short period of time. So what have we covered over the past two days?

The second day of the SRMC was again led by David Tait and allowed us to build on what we had learnt about ISO 31000 and Country Risk Assessments. We delved deeper into the process, looking at Threat and Vulnerability Assessments and getting to grips with what threats, hazards and vulnerabilities were and how to identify them.

The next stage then introduced us to risk registers, where we could identify and analyse the risk, determine whether it was high, medium, or low and look at what counter measures we could put in place to mitigate or reduce the risk to an acceptable level. The day then culminated in the group breaking down into teams and using everything we had learnt to produce a Country Risk Assessment on Pakistan that we would then pitch to our client (David). Overall the first two days have been fantastic and informative, thanks to knowledge and expertise of David.

Day 3 saw us move onto Travel Risk Management, Journey Management and Evacuation Planning. This was a day that I had identified as being of particular interest, due to my current work with Team Rubicon, and I wasn’t disappointed. The day was led by Riz from Priavo Security, who yet again was another excellent and knowledgeable instructor.

Riz talked us through all the issues that needed considering, pre-trip, during the trip and even post trip. He also highlighted to us that many factors needed to be considered, beyond the obvious physical security of the travelling individual, that would be a priority for businesses and organisations. From a personal point of view it was hugely useful to see all the control measures that should be put in place, as a minimum, in order to reduce the risk.

Riz then took us deeper into the process, pushing us to constantly question and analyse every action and situation. He also threw us a curve ball, every now and again, changing the scenario which showed the importance of always having contingency plans for every situation. To finish off the day we were able to test our new knowledge by creating a journey plan for a client for two different scenarios, which really brought home everything we had learnt.

Overall another fantastic two days and many thanks to Riz and David for their excellent instruction!

Days 4 and 5 – Crisis and Disaster Management

Another interesting two days on the SRMC course. On Day 4 we were introduced to Professor Edward Borodzicz, who is one of the foremost experts in Risk and Crisis Management.

We started the day with an overview of the differences between a crisis, an emergency and a disaster. This was key for the rest of the day because, as we learnt, there are very different ways that a crisis and an emergency should be managed in order to prevent it developing into a disaster.

Professor Borodzicz utilised plenty of anecdotes to emphasise key learning points, as well as drawing on the experience of many of the course attendees. The point that really stood out was that in a crisis current policies and procedures will not be sufficient to manage the situation. As such it is important that an organisation has the flexibility to react and adapt when confronted by this.

The afternoon was then spent doing a practical exercise, whereby the class was split into two. One group were given the role of an institution dealing with crisis and emergency situations with the other group being journalists, attempting to exacerbate the situation. This really brought home the lessons we had learnt and how following policies and procedures will not solve the crisis.

Day 5 then saw us once again split into two groups and we were given the chance to be instructors. We both spent the morning designing a scenario for a fictional company with the intent of putting them in a crisis situation and assessing how they managed it. The afternoon then involved us putting the other team through our scenario, before the tables were turned and we became the students. This exercise really brought home the lessons of the past two days as we had to identify and design a crisis, whilst also ensuring there was potential for a successful resolution and learning points for both sides.

Yet again the past two days have been fascinating and really eye-opening, giving us all a different perspective this sector. Many thanks to Professor Borodzicz for some truly engaging lessons and great points to take away.

If you like the idea of joining Damien and our other awesome volunteers to work hard, push TRUK forward and gain great experience, see what voluntary opportunities we have available right now.

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