The WHY of Corporate Executive Protection

October 9, 2014 - By Brian Jantzen

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Corporate executive protection is a lot of things to a lot of people. That’s natural, as EP is a relatively new discipline in the corporate sphere. But it doesn’t mean that everything that everyone says about corporate EP makes sense or is helpful.

That is why we are writing this new blog series about building and maintaining a corporate EP program. We have had the privilege of helping some highly successful corporations set up or turn around their EP programs, and we’ve learned a few things along the way that we want to share. We start this blog series by asking ourselves as EP professionals why we do what we do – and why that makes a difference for our principals.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

If you’re like a lot of other people, you’ve already heard the quote above. It’s by Simon Sinek, whose popular Ted Talk* on the reasons businesses should focus on answering “Why?” rather than just “What?” or “How?” has been viewed more than 19 million times. For Sinek, having a clear understanding of the business’s purpose – what we believe in – makes all the difference in the world. It’s what makes us get out of bed in the morning. It’s what separates great companies and leaders from the merely good. And it’s what keeps customers coming back for more.

Corporate EP programs, in our opinion, should also be built around a simple but purposeful belief. Here is what makes us tick: We exist to keep our principals safe, productive and happy. If we get this right, the “why” of corporate EP, then we are off to a good start in dealing with all the “whats” and “hows”. But that’s the stuff of later blogs. Let’s begin by looking into our “why”.

Why corporate EP? First, to keep the principal safe

Broadly defined, safety can be described as being protected from danger, risk or injury. In the EP world, we often talk about protection from threats, risks and vulnerabilities.

In the real world, however, not even the best politician, priest or army can ensure that anyone will always be completely safe. That’s just not part of the human condition. So while we EP professionals cannot eliminate risk, we must do everything we can to mitigate it.

Risk mitigation begins with understanding the situations that expose our principals to potential danger. We then proceed to systematically reduce the extent of our principal’s exposure to these situations, as well as develop contingency procedures for dealing with the effects of breached safety to reduce their impact.

For many corporate principals, risk mitigation is equally important wherever there is exposure to risk. This could be while they are at home, at the office or on the road, and the EP program must deal with each situation accordingly.

As in many other aspects of corporate life, risk mitigation has to do with best practices, consistency and KPIs. We’ll be looking more closely at all of these in later blogs.

Why corporate EP? To keep the principal productive

When we took a close look at the ROI of executive drivers in a previous blog post, it was clear that the incremental costs of hiring one or more professional drivers could easily be offset by productivity boosts at the C-level.

Similarly, the logistical support provided by EP professionals allows principals to stay focused on their work and goals, and to stay productive no matter where their work takes them.

In our experience, EP is not a distraction when it is done properly. But it can hamper productivity rather than enhance it if it is not done professionally. The most successful EP programs are firmly anchored in the principal’s corporate and private ecosystems. Such programs are not only the most efficient in terms of “protection per dollar”; they are also the most hassle-free and likely to keep the principal happy and safe in the long run.

Why corporate EP? To keep the principal happy

I can’t think of a corporate function that gets more up close and personal with the principal (and his or her family) than executive protection. It’s in the nature of the job to be near. It can last for days at a time. It can get personal.

Getting the interpersonal part of the job right means more than feeling good, however. It can mean the difference between program success and failure, and impact the principal’s safety as well as productivity.

While successful EP obviously cannot claim to make all principals truly happy, poorly managed programs have a good chance of making everyone a little more miserable. Good programs blend naturally into the corporation’s organization and culture. In addition to maintaining consistent adherence to best practice, they are flexibly individualized to adjust to the principal’s lifestyle and values.

What is your “Why?” of executive protection?

In our opinion, good corporate EP starts with keeping the principal safe, but it doesn’t end there. If the purpose of your EP program doesn’t include keeping the principal productive and happy, then we think its chances of success, in the long run, are limited.

What do you think?

*You can see the second-most viewed Ted Talk in history here

Brian Jantzen

Executive Vice President

After leaving the US Marine Corps as a captain in the early 1990s, Brian has pioneered corporate executive protection services internationally for Fortune 500 companies, high net worth families and NGOs.

Brian has provided protection at the highest levels of corporate and philanthropic environments in over 35 countries. With his demonstrated ability to align security operations with both the client’s organizational goals and personal preferences, Brian uses his strong relationship building, collaboration and project and vendor management expertise to create security solutions that deliver program efficiencies and customer satisfaction. Brian graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in Sociology and is the subject matter expert chair for the ASIS Executive Protection Council.