As we emerge from the pandemic, here is why we need to begin thinking about executive protection.
One of the few positive things to come out of the pandemic is that many organizations now realize they do not need to fly their staff all over the world to attend meetings. Most of those meetings can be held online, which saves both time and money.
These Zoom meetings work well when one team from one company, for instance, must meet with another team from another company. However, when we climb up the corporate ladder to the executive level, we find person-to-person meetings are still needed – if not expected – and that’s when executive protection comes on the scene.
Most larger organizations have some type of executive protection program for their top people. Many times this is referred to as “duty of care,” an obligation the organization has to protect its executives.
However, if protection is handled in-house, these are often limited programs. Eventually, they find they must hire an executive protection firm to assist them, especially if their executives are traveling overseas.
Determining how much protection is needed and who will provide it is the first step in a risk assessment for traveling executives. If, for instance, the destination is the U.K., the risk assessment will likely indicate there are fewer security concerns than if the destination is Guatemala, Honduras, or some place in the Middle East.
Further, if it is the U.K., it is highly likely the company’s in-house protection team can provide all the protection required.
On the other hand, if it is one of the other countries just mentioned or some other global “hot spot”, a risk assessment will likely suggest that a private executive protection team be called in.
An astute firm will have a better feel for the dangers involved when traveling to certain, more dangerous countries. They may also already have people working in these areas of the world who know the probability of an incident occurring and have a solid grasp of how to mitigate those risks and possibilities.
If hiring an executive protection firm to accompany an executive overseas, here are some of the other items that may come up during a risk assessment. These must all be addressed to help ensure the trip goes smoothly and as risk-free as possible:
Passports. The traveling executive will, of course, need a passport. However, passport rules can get complicated. Some countries require travelers to have passports with at least six months’ remaining validity from the date of entry into the country; others, six months’ validity beyond one’s stay.
If, for instance, entering the foreign country on June 1 and planning to leave on June 30, the passport must be valid at least through December 30.
Dossiers. Along with the passport, the executive will likely need a visa, photocopies of their passport, additional photographs of themselves for verification purposes, information on their blood type, a list of any allergies they have along with reactions to certain medicines, international health insurance verification, and emergency contact information.
History. When assessing the likelihood of danger for a traveling officer, the executive protection firm will consider the “risk history,” current conditions of the site, along with updates. Is this a country or geographic area with a history of political instability? Are crime and violence ongoing concerns? What about natural disasters? During certain seasons of the year, some countries are more vulnerable to hurricanes and tornadoes, including our own.
Corporate Target. Some corporations are viewed more favorably than others in certain parts of the world, but this can change over time.
The Union Carbide company had been viewed favorably in India for creating many jobs. However, in 1984, gas was released at their plant in Bhopal, which eventually cost the lives of thousands of people.
To help quell the disaster and show his concern, Warren Anderson, then CEO of the company, flew to India. However, and totally unexpectedly, as soon as he arrived he was charged with manslaughter by Indian authorities.
If an executive protection firm had been hired to protect Anderson, they likely would have suggested he not make this trip. However, Anderson traveled with minimal protection.
In this case, he was lucky, and was soon released. This certainly is not always the case.
Here’s the important takeaway when it comes to executive protection:
The deep cultural and geopolitical knowledge of an executive protection firm, paired with their expertise in risk avoidance and adaptive measures, helps protect the safety of traveling executives, and also improves the executives’ ability to focus on his or her organization’s goals.
As always, we value your feedback, which helps us shape our perspective on recent events, security, and the services we offer.
Chief Executive Officer