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Changing times for executive security 

The threat of harm to executives travelling and businesses operating globally has never been higher or less predictable (see CRJ 12:1 for Rob McAlister’s article on Fragile Environments).


Clearly business professionals must continue to travel; the issue today is that the travelling business community must be better prepared (rawpixel / 123rf)

The determination of terrorists to attack western individuals now compounds the existing dangers of crime and industrial espionage. We are all familiar with the attacks on westerners that make headlines on a daily, if not hourly basis. The frequency of these attacks occurring in locations that were thought to be safe places to travel changes the game. France, Germany, Belgium, the UK, Turkey, US, Tunisia, and Australia are all destinations in which security services are well established and travelling executives did not previously spend time thinking about their security. Yet terrorist groups and lone individuals have all able to carry out deadly attacks in ways that previously would not have called for conscious security awareness.

What is required today is a fresh look at travel security to normally safe places, where terrorists have infiltrated society, planned attacks and carried them out with deadly efficiency.

Clearly business professionals must continue to travel; the issue today is that the travelling business community must be better prepared. Whether it is through awareness training and education, close protection and personal reassurance, business leaders have a number of solutions to assist in the protection of their employees.


Recent attacks, up to July 2016

The duty of care in today’s world requires action to be taken in assessing threats for executives travelling and providing adequate mitigation and protection for trips to include places where previously no threat was assumed.

In particular, all transport hubs are a potential danger to travellers and there are many reports of threats targeting Westerners. A typical journey from home to business meetings in Europe/worldwide includes passing through these hubs. While abroad, visits to shopping malls, hotels, conference venues or restaurants all now require a level of alertness, appreciation of potential threats, and knowledge of what to do when an incident occurs. We cannot assume that our common sense will get us through an event.

Focusing on air travel, an essential of business life, it is normal that an executive may be concentrating on a keynote speech to be delivered, a finance director finalising accounts to be presented to the board, or a sales director brushing up on a foreign language presentation. What is not happening is a focus on safety, knowledge of escape routes or attention on the threats that may be lurking around the corner. Planning, coupled with vigilance and awareness of surroundings and knowledge of what to do in case of an event, are now as critical as the business preparations.

The US State Department and the British Foreign Office have updated their advice about what to do if you are in the vicinity of an attack. There is a number of practical tactics that can be employed to significantly reduce the threat of death or serious injury should such an incident occur. Consideration should be given to method of transportation to the airport, time of arrival prior to departure, positioning in queues and departure lounge seating, and understanding escape routes from arrival and departure halls.

During an attack, the latest advice is RUN, HIDE, TELL. Remembering the lessons we were taught as children regarding crossing a road, the tips regarding considerations during an attack must become equally as routine in today’s threat environment.

Asking for and receiving training for the new normal in previously safe environments is a personal responsibility for the travelling executive and must be taken seriously. Awareness and security training are now mandatory for travelling executives.

MINT Executive Ltd has been specifically created to tackle the problem of preparedness for executives travelling globally through training, counter surveillance and close protection. Led by two former UK police counter-terrorism officers, MINT has the skills and the team to supplement internal security protection for global corporations. Click here for details  

Rob McAlister, 16/08/2016
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