Bryan Rudolph has been in the security industry for over four decades, initially in a technical role, but for the latter two-plus decades focusing on the professionalism within the security industry, specifically with respect to training and standards. Bryan’s working career started in 1972 when he joined SA Phillips as an electronic technician, receiving training in both Holland and Switzerland while based in South Africa. He stayed with the company until 1980, at which time he was the national technical manager.
He then formally entered the security industry in 1980, joining a small alarm and CCTV installation company where he was involved in the design, installation and maintenance of systems. He then took on the role as general manager for the local branch of a Californian company that was later acquired by Honeywell. The acquisition saw many branches around the world closed, with the South African operation being one of them.
Bryan then went into the publishing business and took on the role of editor of a magazine called Security Today, which was bought by Primedia a few months later. He then started his own publication, Security Professional. This was even before Hi-Tech Security Solutions was launched.
Writing the history of intruder alarms
It was around 2002 when Bryan took to writing books aimed at the intruder alarm industry. He was also tasked with written learning materials for the Unisa Security Management Programme, as it was known in those days. He has the following three books to his name:
1.) The Art of Intruder Detection – an updated version of which is aligned with SAIDSA standards and is available on his website. The latest version incorporates another of his books, Intruder Alarms Sales Techniques, in the same publication.
2.) Intruder Alarms for South African Technicians.
3.) Intruder Alarms Sales Techniques.
In 2002 Bryan also started working with SAIDSA (the South African Intruder Detection Services Association), a relationship that is still ongoing. Among his roles at the association, Bryan publishes its annual information guide and member directory, and chairs the committee for standards in the intruder alarm market. To be able to share his experience in the technical world, he also moved into training in order to ensure that certified technicians in South Africa can provide the quality the association requires and customers expect.
The education drive Bryan started while at SAIDSA developed into the association’s formal training school, which is still operating and has been training and certifying technicians for years. In addition, Bryan also launched a career as an independent inspector for SAIDSA, one of the first and still one of the few truly independent inspectors in the country. In this role he ensures that SAIDSA-certified companies and technicians complete their work to acceptable standards.
The challenge of online
Three years ago, an online version of the intruder alarm training course was developed, which has proved vital over the past year as COVID-19 has disrupted much of society. Although Bryan notes that he was initially opposed to online training as it would not be able to replace face-to-face interaction. He believes that theoretical training is only one part of the learning process and that the practical, hands-on experience is key to producing good technicians. Given the current situation with the pandemic, however, he admits that at least those who learn online are doing something to improve their skills.
That is not to say he is totally opposed to the idea of learning online. In the past, the biggest opposition to training (which is required for SAIDSA members) was that companies could not afford to have their technical staff off-site for a few days. By making the theory available online, technicians can expand their own knowledge in their own time and attain a SAIDSA competency certificate. Thereafter, all that is required for a formal SAIDSA certification is a practical assessment.
Practical experience is important
When asked about what new entrants to the industry can do to ensure they are appropriately equipped for a job in the intrusion market, Bryan stands by his assertion that practical experience is the best training one can get. “You can’t teach experience online, but you can share it in practical exercises in a classroom environment,” he states. “And nothing beats experience.”
Young people looking to succeed in the industry are advised to learn the theory of the areas they are interested in (even online), but then they should look to implement the theory in the real world. The industry can also assist in this by providing opportunities for individuals as they enter the industry and establish their careers.
And, he adds, the industry does need ‘fresh blood’. There is a real shortage of good technicians. The traditional approach of learning on the job by word of mouth was appropriate a decade or two ago, but all that really happened was newcomers learned bad habits and passed them on. His drive for standards and training is aimed at getting rid of the bad habits and replacing them with best practices that deliver results.
He adds that there is ample proof of the expansion of these bad habits when experienced technicians attend a training class and are amazed to discover there are better and more effective ways to do what they have been doing incorrectly for years.
There are also, in Bryan’s opinion, too many people who think the alarm and intrusion detection market is an easy job.
This is a problem as many people come from other industries that have no connection to security and automatically think they can be successful in the intrusion market. They don’t have the mentoring or experience to think ‘out of the box’ and be innovative in the solutions they develop. The biggest loser here is the customer who ends up with an intruder installation that is probably only half as effective as it could have been.
Today, with all the balls he has in the air, Bryan’s focus is on advancing the professionalism of the intrusion industry as a whole through the development and optimisation of standards and by presenting and improving the training programmes SAIDSA offers.
Bryan’s book is available for purchase at www.securityindustry.co.za
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