The term "Professional Executive Protection Operative" should tell you everything about the evolution of executive protection & the industry. People movers or shirt fillers as I like to refer to them, in black turtleneck jumpers and bomber jackets are fine if you were hitting a nightclub back in the 90’s with those “D” shaped earpieces, but they are not fine for Executive Protection.
An effective, efficient and professional Executive Protection task must be based on planning, preparation, professionalism and common sense rather than muscle.
The difference between a professional and a non-professional is simple; one specializes in muscles and solely depends on them and believes that muscles alone is all that is required for the job, and the other may be less physically imposing although remaining at top physical peak performance but is much better prepared to identify threats before they eventuate into an unavoidable incident.
An Executive Protective operative need to have pride in staying fit and healthy and like it or not, look in good shape. Recently I reviewed a job posting on a private household recruitment site, where a list of long requirements for a tasking were presented, one said "operative should be tall, impeccably smart and in physically peak condition’’.
Unfortunately this day in age, appearance is everything, in my personal experience a photo is always requested by a potential employee, specifically for a private office, household or high-profile tasking, imagine, an "A-list celebrity" in the media spotlight on a daily basis, it is highly likely the members of the Personal Security Detail will also be in the spotlight, do you think it is not of importance to the celebrity how their protective detail look? after all it is them that are representing the client at all times.
It is very important that today's Executive Protection professional is a mirror image of their principal in professional dress, casual dress and demeanor, specifically when the principal in question is of high-profile and it often surrounded by media outlets and the Paparazzi. This can be very complex to assess and can take time, and effort to implement.
(Jerry Judge - CPO to Johnny Depp for over 20 years, one of the most professional operators in the industry, and an absolute gent)
The key is always blending into the principal’s life whilst ensuring their safety whilst minimizing the impact of a protective detail on the principal’s daily life and routine.
It is important that the operative is educated, trainable and respectful, dedicated and most importantly, they have plenty of common sense and manners. It is important that the operative blends and adapts into their surroundings and can communicate to various types of people and hold an intelligent conversation with anybody and everybody at any given time, from venue security to company executives, often when they have had very little sleep and perhaps very little food.
The physical skills necessary to do executive protection can be taught, but the dedication, professionalism, discretion and integrity necessary to do the job are without a doubt a much harder skill to master.
I have met far too many ''experts'' in the industry who claim to know all there is to know about Executive Protection, it is most important to remind yourself that a poor attitude, ego and the unwillingness to keep your mouth closed when more experienced operators are offering advice will ultimately see you out of work.
Professional Executive Protection operatives must be great communicators. They must be able to establish a good rapport with their principal without getting too close and the key is knowing when you could be.
It is vital the operative has the manners and the people skills to build long term meaningful relationships with peers, government entities, venue managers, heads of hotel security and more because one day, you might just need them to help you when you really do need them.
On many occasions I have witnessed people movers with high-profile clients trying to bully hotel management, venue management and local security services with their muscle and egos, this will get you nowhere because these people ultimately hold the front line between you and your client and may hold valuable information and resources that you will need in certain circumstances.
Remember, an expert is one who knows more and more about less and less. You will come across many ''experts'' on social media claiming to know everything about this industry, factually they don’t, and many have never actually conducted work at a high level for long periods of time, many have either done a day’s work for a ''B-list celebrity'' or watched too many YouTube videos and read far too many books on the subject.