Security is a supporting effort, not an end result. The goal of security is to ensure the client can conduct his or her activities regardless of the risk conditions. In the private sector, security, whether it be estate security or executive protection, is a component of business assurance. If the risk conditions do not warrant a security detail, then fixer or facilitation support is the critical facet of business assurance. The same diligent attention to detail that mean success for an estate or executive protection detail come into play with fixer support.
FireWatch recently supported an international client conducting a business development trip in the US. The goal of the trip was to interface with various US corporations in multiple states. The client’s itinerary was fluid and evolved quickly due to emerging leads. Even without the need for security, there were several challenges.
- The itinerary changed by the hour. The client had an organic private jet which enabled flexibility which was both a blessing and a curse. Itinerary changes meant that not only venues, but cities and states changed at a moment’s notice. The necessary logistical coordination to support this effort i.e. fixed-base operator support, vehicle pickup at the airport, and route planning requirements placed tremendous strain on the business assurance officer. This is where the basics came into play. Confirmation and follow up of every hotel reservation, vehicle request, meeting location, route conditions, flight timelines, and venue details were critical. Everything had to be triple-checked. Version control of the itinerary was a constant challenge. The client was meeting with the C-suite of various high-profile companies. A 5-minute delay could derail a high-profile meeting and potentially sour strategic relationships.
- This increased the complexity of the itinerary dramatically. From touchless room-check in procedures to the vetting of drivers to periodic COVID testing of the client party, COVID added another layer of resource and time requirements that had to be carefully planned and scheduled for.
- Communication and coordination with the client’s headquarters. Time zone considerations came into play meaning the client liaison and the business assurance officer were often planning late into the night as they received updated guidance from the head office.
The task ended on a high note with the client achieving its high-tempo itinerary and successfully meeting the executives of numerous corporations.
There were many lessons learned from this task. First was an assessment of the individual bandwidth of the business assurance officer. Even with minimum security risks, the officer was maxed out. Due to the fluid schedule, he only truly slept 2 hours a night. This could lead to mistakes which in a higher risk environment could be costly. The second was that relationships are critical. Developing relationships with the hotel staff, FBO staff, flight crew, drivers, restaurant staff, and the client party itself was instrumental to success. Fortunately, the question on risk vs. reward never came up. If the environment was higher risk, it would have been challenging if not impossible to meet the itinerary requirements. That is always a tough judgment call to make; on how to tell a client that the risks either mean delay or cancellation of an itinerary item.
In closing, business assurance is not flashy. It is performing the basics the right way over and over again regardless of risk conditions or business pressures. When done right it goes unnoticed. When done poorly, security, and business suffers. True professionals take pride in ensuring smooth and seamless business activities.