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Women of security: Jade



Jade shares her fascinating career journey in the security sector and an insight into the world of security operatives. "Over the 19 years that I have operated in the industry, I have been privileged to meet and work alongside some extraordinary individuals accompanied with seeing parts of the world that I would never of imagined travelling to. I have been fortunate enough to provide security services and consultancy to those who are required to operate or live also in extremely unstable environments, in particular across Africa and the Middle East and inspire like minded women that just like me, they are able to achieve fantastic things despite their background or culture, as long as they believe in themselves and never give up."



Are you currently employed in the security sector and what do you do for work?


I am a self-employed operative with a registered Ltd company, due to the current global situation of the Covid-19 pandemic, I have had a number of contracts either delayed or cancelled. Therefore, at present I am offering my services and skill set to Operation Brock, which is a government project assisting in advising and covid testing international hauliers.



What does ‘security industry’ mean for you? How would you describe the industry?


The security industry is something that I am extremely passionate about. I personally believe that no one should have to live in fear of their own safety.


The need for a professional, dependable private security industry is required to protect people, property, assets and operations. These responsibilities are no longer able to be maintained by the authorities, as the demands for security in society and business are on the increase. The industry encompasses a wide variety of occupations, these range from the traditional uniformed staff to highly skilled consultants and technicians that are able to provide services independently and or whilst working alongside other agencies and authorities.



Did you shape your career to work in this sector?


No I didn’t. As a young teenager my passion was to be a police officer, so all the subjects I opted to do in school and my hobbies and activities were chosen to support a career in the police force.


Unfortunately due to a childhood illness and having to undergo a number of surgeries my application was rejected from West Yorkshire Police, a set back that turned my world upside down and left me absolutely devastated and feeling lost.



What role do you think women play in the security industry?


I personally feel that female operatives play a vital role within the industry, female operatives are able to provide a ‘whole package’ with often dual rolling as personal assistants, fitness trainers, nannies and governesses, they are have the ability to be able to blend in without drawing attention to the client and in turn this provides a covert service.


Female operatives are great at offering also soft skills, sensing atmospheric changes and picking up on emotional change within people whether that be the client themselves or those around them, but unfortunately females are often still overlooked and we are not given the same opportunities as our male colleagues and we often find ourselves constantly having to prove our worth and capability.


I personally feel that female operatives play a vital role within the industry, female operatives are able to provide a ‘whole package’ with often dual rolling as personal assistants, fitness trainers, nannies and governesses, they are have the ability to be able to blend in without drawing attention to the client and in turn this provides a covert service.

The industry regarding women is slowly improving, however there is still a great deal of work to do in order to make positive changes and override the stereotype of who or what a “bodyguard” and security consultant should be.



What do you like about your work and what inspires you about this sector?


I like the variety of work that the industry offers and the challenges that often come with certain tasks. Over the 19 years that I have operated in the industry, I have been privileged to meet and work alongside some extraordinary individuals accompanied with seeing parts of the world that I would never of imagined travelling to.


Due to being an instructor as well as an active operative, I am driven by being able to help and inspire others, I enjoy passing on my knowledge, experiences and my story as a whole, equally I like to learn from those I present to or provide services for and often feel inspired and humbled by their personal stories.


I live life by the saying “success isn’t just what you accomplish in your life, it’s about what you inspire others to do in theirs”



Do you think there is good career progression opportunities for women in the industry? What could be done in your opinion to create more opportunities?


Unfortunately I personally feel that there are limited opportunities for women within the industry and that the stereotypes of what a security consultant or operative should look like and be (male, ex. military, muscle) are still playing a huge part in the selection process for certain roles.


Just this week alone, I have seen eight close protection vacancy adverts that all mention ex military, ex police and operational tour experience for clients or companies that require a private security team to be operational in London.



What do you consider your biggest successes throughout your career?


Despite not being ex military or holding the security and risk management degree, I have managed to prove that the knowledge and experience I hold is of equal if not more value than those specifications that are usually required and that my specialist skill set is an asset. I would say that one of my biggest successes was being employed as a hostile environment and high risk advisor and instructor for government and media outlet organisations across the globe. This position assisted in finally showing that positive changes with regards to females within the industry are slowly beginning to take place and that a civilian female operative can offer value just the same as those who have served for their country.


I have been fortunate enough to provide security services and consultancy to those who are required to operate or live in extremely unstable environments, in particular across Africa and the Middle East and inspire like minded women that just like me, they are able to achieve fantastic things despite their background or culture, as long as they believe in themselves and never give up.


During my time as a high risk advisor I received a number of emails that were either thanking me for inspiring them or informing me that thanks to the skills and knowledge that I have passed on they have managed to either get themselves out of a difficult situation, which in turn has prevented them from being subject to a horrific incident taking place or that they have managed to use their new skills to help and assist others and make a difference to someone’s life following an accident/incident occurring. This to me is the ultimate job satisfaction, and it really does fill me with pride that I am making a difference and having a positive impact of peoples abilities and levels of confidence.



What have been your biggest challenges in your career? And your biggest challenges in the security sector?


In my opinion the biggest challenge is a constant one, and that is being a civilian female within the industry and constantly having to justify and prove your place, especially if you are aiming for managerial positions or senior roles.


I personally have operated in more hostile environments than a large proportion of ex-military personnel, yet I still find myself being over looked by international organisations due to failing to have a service number on my records and unable to prove operational tour experience. To name a few I have travelled to and operated in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Sudan, Somali-Land and the list goes.



If you could create any changes in this sector, what would they be?


I would like to see the stigma of female operatives and our abilities stamped out, along with the stereotypes that accompany the image of female private security operatives. There needs to be serious changes that actually reflect the reality of the job, its requirements and the overall image of females within the sector.


I would like to see the stigma of female operatives and our abilities stamped out, along with the stereotypes that accompany the image of female private security operatives. There needs to be serious changes that actually reflect the reality of the job, its requirements and the overall image of females within the sector.

The above could be achieved with the development of having more female instructors and influencers present on courses, forums and the international stage. Where we can deliver the truth about working in the industry, whilst reducing the myths, stereotypes and the “Hollywood” bodyguard image which is unfortunately often seen to be delivered and advertised.



Do you have any role models or mentors who have inspired your journey?


My biggest role model is and always has been my mother. Her drive, determination and strength is admiral. My mother is my real life hero and without her support, belief and love, I wouldn’t be who I am today.


With regards inspiration, I have never been inspired to be like someone or follow in another’s footsteps. I have always run with my own determination, the fact that I dare to be different and that I am always willing to try new things and take risks. I didn’t want to allow my past and the many set backs I have endured to define me and I like many others I mainly just wanted to make my family proud.


“Always trust your wings, as they show you what you can become, but never forget your roots as they remind you where you’re from!”


However over the years I have taken in admiration from two women in particular, one being Camilla Carr, a former 1997 Chechnya hostage and the other being Abigail Austen. These two women have shown me a different side to true strength and determination, they have shown me that you really can over come the unthinkable and achieve great things.

However over the years I have taken in admiration from two women in particular, one being Camilla Carr, a former 1997 Chechnya hostage and the other being Abigail Austen. These two women have shown me a different side to true strength and determination, they have shown me that you really can over come the unthinkable and achieve great things.



Is there any advice you would give for younger women who would look to start their careers in this sector? Where could they find out about the roles and career paths?


There are a small number of companies and groups, who are tailored towards promoting and assisting females with in the industry. I would advise those interested in a career within the sector to join those groups and begin networking from the start.


I would also suggest that they find a niche or a skill set that would allow them to offer a unique service and or the ability to dual role. There are a number of UHNW clients that prefer to keep their circle of trust small and their business/lifestyle private, so with this in mind the clients have begun to look at those operatives that can offer a complete package rather than one specific service.


Finally ladies, don’t get dragged into the politics, dramas and antics that can sometimes take place within security teams, remain true to yourself and be prepared to take any task that comes your way. The industry is not about always being suited and booted and travelling around on private jets with fine dining. Tasks will come in all shapes, sizes and colours including the famous yellow/orange high visibility vest.

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