Success in business process best practices

Issue 4 2023 Editor's Choice, Integrated Solutions, Security Services & Risk Management

Lesley-Anne Kleyn is a business analyst, consultant and coach, working across a range of industries, and within all sectors of the South African economy. When we caught up with her, she was wrapping up a series of Direction Setting workshops for a national retailer, regularly coaching several C-Suite Executives, and tackling research into Responsible Leadership.

Lesley-Anne Kleyn.

Her involvement within the security services sector is two-fold: working with the users of security solutions in an advisory role and working with the providers themselves to build their businesses into profitable and resilient entities.

We wonder about the buzz around ‘responsible leadership’ and asked Kleyn for some insight.

More than financial profit

“Leading a business is no longer about profit alone. Rather, modern leadership is about the societal, environmental, and economic impact that business is so perfectly poised to bring about. There is nothing wrong with being profitable. Profitability is the point. But responsible leadership is about Profit Plus.”

For Kleyn, flourishing businesses could make a real dent in South Africa’s desperate unemployment situation. And it is unemployment that is her personal passion.

As for the security services sector, Kleyn initially worked directly with the end-users of security solutions as an independent consultant.

“How I went from being a business analyst outside of this industry, to an independent security consultant within it, is a long story,” she giggles. “But nowadays I don’t do very much of that type of consulting anymore.”

Instead, Kleyn has been working with security service providers themselves. “That’s been really gratifying.”

“My role as an analyst, consultant and coach is to work on the business together with my client and his/her management team, not to throw my weight around. I keep continually in mind that it is a privilege to be invited through the front door, and that asking for my help entails vulnerability on the part of the leader and his/her team.”

Kleyn helps business leaders to harness the potential of the people they lead, build high performing, collectively accountable management teams, and create a clear roadmap for the future, with powerful action plans to get there, whilst simultaneously developing operational excellence in every area of the business.

In the security services space, operational excellence is particularly critical.

Operational excellence

“Security companies sell the concept of proactive security solutions to end-user clients, yet they themselves typically operate in a reactive state of crisis management. Over the years, the industry has come to accept this for itself as normal.”

We wonder if it might be high time that the industry make a few fundamental changes?

Kleyn ponders this question. She relates how thought-leader Jim Collins identified 18 visionary companies, pairing each one with a nearest leading competitor. What he found was that a dollar invested in a visionary company in 1926, would have grown to over six thousand dollars in 1990. In comparison, a dollar invested in the comparison company in 1926, would have grown to just about nine hundred dollars.

“These visionary companies outperformed both the overall stock market and their nearest competitors,” says Kleyn. “My point is that Collins discovered that these firms displayed an interesting internal paradox: On the one hand, they had this unbudging core ideology – call it an anchor. Yet, on the other hand, they were continually driving to stimulate change and progress.”

“Also,” she notes, “they had a clear handle on their current position at any given time. For any business to become resilient, all three aspects are pivotal, no matter what the business or the industry.”

Kleyn is convinced that for many security services providers it has become imperative that they lay correct foundations in order to scale up fast, like it or not, because many are landing large contracts only to find it impossible to truly deliver on promised outcomes. “If the business is scaling, whether that be purposefully or fortuitously, then the management team needs to be equipped and upskilled to be able to keep up, as do the teams reporting to each manager.”

The result of any business growing reactively instead of proactively, she says, is the deep-seated malaise that characterises the security industry, which the value chain is painfully aware of, but that end-users only come to realise many months and many millions of (often wasted) rands on their security solutions later.

Speaking of end-users, we ask Kleyn about her work consulting to the users of security solutions themselves.

It takes a village

“My approach has always been to audit and field-test the existing solution, document results, educate my client, conduct a comprehensive risk determination exercise with the entire decision-making team with the results of the audit as a springboard, and then roadmap a five- to ten-year security strategy,” she says. “Once the strategy is in place, I engage the entire industry value chain, around the same boardroom table: the network infrastructure architect, the security technology manufacturer, its distributor, the appointed system integrator, the guarding provider, the control room expert, the tactical response provider, and the client. In fact, anyone and everyone who may be relevant to the client site.

“It takes a village to produce a security solution that will add value. The ideal, end-to-end solution cannot realistically be implemented by one service provider, though many claim to be able to. My role is to make sure that all parties focus on their own areas of expertise, whilst at the same time making sure that all are engaged with each other and co-ordinated.”

Security finds you

We ask her how she ended up working in risk, safety and security in the first place?

“I certainly did not set out to become involved in the sector, but over the years it kept finding me,” she explains with a laugh.

As a young manager working a duty shift at a Holiday Inn, Kleyn co-ordinated her hotel’s role in aiding the survivors of the sinking of the Oceanos off the East London coast. “The hotel didn’t have a process in place to deal with this level of emergency. My team and I made one up that night. I guess that was my baptism into risk, safety and security.”

After this experience, Kleyn was headhunted by Sun International, where risk, safety and security found her again. Her role was to recruit and facilitate training for various divisions within the group, and the security and surveillance teams were among those. “Surveillance in the gaming industry in the early 1990s was state of the art. I remember being fascinated.”

Then, in the early 2000s, a monitoring and armed response provider contracted her to undertake a business change project. “The company had been losing market share and within 18 months we had turned that business around, surpassing all expectations. Twenty years later and the company has remained extremely profitable and is actively involved in its local community.”

Indeed, after that project, Kleyn had gone on to work within an entirely different sector, completing a business recovery project for an NPO. The security sector was not top of her mind. But then the industry came calling again.

This time, she was approached by a system integrator on the look-out for an intrapreneur to join its national team. Kleyn politely turned the offer down. Twice. “On the second occasion, I told the company that it would take a crane to move me out of my consulting practice,” she laughs. “I just wasn’t interested.” A few days later she answered a third call: “So exactly how big a crane do we have to build, to get you to join us?”

Kleyn relented. “It was a combination of the persistence, the humour, and the vision that the company had for the levels of professionalism that it wanted to introduce to this sector, that finally persuaded me.”

Best practice passion

It wasn’t long before Kleyn had gained a wealth of experience within all critical aspects of risk, safety and security, going on to become accomplished at the art of integrating manpower and technology through the process of command and control, and a certified technical architect in her own right. But her real passion was for introducing general business best practice principles into security challenges.

“Business principles work. I figured they must surely also be the only way to tackle something as critical as a security solution, so I adapted my generalist approach, to work for the security solutions environment.”

Eventually, in 2018 Kleyn moved back into her own consulting practice full-time, with the security services sector now added to her company’s portfolio of industries.

Her typical client is any firm, in any industry, operating in the R50 m to R200 m turnover per annum bracket, although she also works extensively with multinationals, and volunteers time with start-ups.

Kleyn is particularly comfortable working with successful entrepreneurs. She has started-up and sold numerous enterprises, so she knows first-hand what it takes to lead and grow a business. One of her earlier endeavours was in Fintech, co-founding and running the company that conceptualised and commercialised the first bank statement analysis tool in South Africa, which she sold to a leading financial institution. That tool was endorsed by Microsoft and is still in use today.

“I’ve always had a tenacious knack for opening business doors and getting to exactly the right decision maker. One of us did the coding, the other (me) got us in front of the right crowd.”

We ask her what she most enjoys about the security services sector, and she bubbles with enthusiasm over clients, colleagues, learning opportunities, and women in the industry. “I have consulted to incredible end-user clients across the country. I have also been invited to coach some visionary leaders of security services companies. I have been fortunate to have been able to hone my own risk, safety and security skills through learning from many of the best in the business. And let’s not forget the wonderful women working in the space. We are an encouragement to each other, and I am so looking forward to introducing more of these ladies to Smart Security’s readers.”

As for interests in her spare time, Kleyn replies, “What spare time? My entire family is currently studying. I am completing my Masters, my daughter is completing her Masters, and my son is a mechanical engineering candidate. It feels like all I do is study, but I waited 15 years to be able to do this so there has not been one day that has gone by that I have not been ecstatically happy to be here. If I make it through this intact, you might find me back on my surfboard or my guitar in the near future.”

Lesley-Anne Kleyn is a consultant working across a range of sectors, assisting clients to build their businesses into profitable, impactful and enduring entities. With many clients in the security services sector too, she is a member of the board of ASIS International, heading up Women in Security. To join the conversation, contact her on +27 64 410 8563, or reach out on LinkedIn:


Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Convergence of cyber and physical security
Integrated Solutions Security Services & Risk Management
The overlap between cybersecurity and physical security will necessitate the integration of cyber and physical security in order to enable the sharing of events to the same security operations centre.

Robots: a security opportunity or a threat?
Editor's Choice News Conferences & Events
Professor Martin Gill, Director of Perpetuity Research & Consultancy International and the School of Criminal Justice at the University of South Africa (UNISA), will be holding a Global Thought Leadership Security webinar on 22 June 2023 to discuss the contentious issue of robots operating in the security industry.

UNISA sponsors Securex seminars
Editor's Choice News Conferences & Events
As part of UNISA’s 150-year birthday celebrations, UNISA has sponsored the Securex Theatre Seminar Programme, which will include a number of prominent industry specialists, academics and security practitioners focusing on a number of themes.

Sustainability School opens for enrolment
Education (Industry) News Security Services & Risk Management
Three-part programme, first developed for Schneider Electric employees, is now available for free for companies worldwide. Attendees learn how to future-proof their businesses and accelerate their decarbonisation journeys.

From the editor's desk: Get Smart
Technews Publishing News
      Welcome to the fourth issue of Hi-Tech Security Solutions for 2023, which is also the first issue of Smart Security Solutions. As noted in previous issues, Hi-Tech Security Solutions has been rebranded ...

Accenture Technology Vision 2023
Editor's Choice News
New report states that generative AI is expected to usher in a ‘bold new future’ for business, merging physical and digital worlds, transforming the way people work and live.

Economists divided on global economic recovery
Editor's Choice News
Growth outlook has strengthened in all regions, but chief economists are divided on the likelihood of a global recession in 2023; experts are concerned about trade-off between managing inflation and maintaining financial stability, with 76% anticipating central banks to struggle to bring down inflation.

Security awareness training
Training & Education Security Services & Risk Management
It is critically important to have a security awareness solution that uses the limited time available to train effectively, and one that provides targeted education that is relevant to users.

Technology to thwart solar panel thieves
Asset Management, EAS, RFID Security Services & Risk Management Products
A highly efficient industrial network is coming to the rescue of the solar industry, as solar panels, inverters and batteries are being targeted by thieves and threaten to destabilise the industry.

Banking the unbanked comes with security risks
Financial (Industry) Security Services & Risk Management
As grim as it was, the pandemic of recent years and its resultant global economic crisis were a prime catalyst for record number of first-time bank users, the previously unbanked.