Education key to promotion
Traditionally, the security industry in Hong Kong has promoted people based on their years of service. This is slowly changing. 'The shift has been towards academic background and training,' says Douglas Renwick, managing director of Securitas Security Services.
Security managers are responsible for the day-to-day security of the premises to which they are assigned - whether they are residential buildings, offices or industrial facilities. They manage a team which looks after the physical safety and security of buildings and occupants.
Richard Ko, director of security at the Island Shangri-La hotel, says in-house security managerial roles also involve an element of risk management. This includes planning for contingencies, such as fires, floods, bomb threats or medical emergencies, by drafting and implementing training in standard operating procedures.
The entry-level job in a security career is as a security guard or officer, who will typically be promoted to security supervisor, a frontline managerial role. Staff can then progress to senior supervisor and operations manager, looking after multiple sites. Those with at least five years of experience may become a security manager. Some may have formal law enforcement or military experience.
According to Renwick, monthly pay ranges from HK$25,000 to HK$35,000 for those working in outsourced security agencies, while it rises to between HK$35,000 and HK$45,000 for in-house security managers.
Many professionals would then seek an in-house position as chief security officer or director of security, whose duties include, among other things, making approvals for capital expenditure for security-related equipment.
Apart from positions with security firms, security managers are also employed in hotels, ports, banks and property management companies.
Important to spot risks
Security managers should understand the ways to achieve security and how potential risks may affect the location for which they are responsible.
A clear understanding of the law and a willingness to be responsible and accountable for their actions are also important, since their decisions can affect the safety and well-being of people living and working inside the premises under their supervision.
Security managers need to develop and implement business continuity plans and contingency measures when the need arises. All these should be conducted in a composed and professional manner to prevent security incidents from escalating and causing additional physical injury, or damaging an organisation's reputation.
Diploma offers chance to get ahead
All private security personnel in Hong Kong are regulated by the Security and Guarding Services Ordinance.
Only those satisfying the ordinance's requirements will be granted a security personnel permit by the Security and Guarding Services Industry Authority.
The Hong Kong Security Association is set to launch a diploma course later this year to provide academic training for practising security managers and security professionals.