Continual learning and mentoring

September 2013 Security Services & Risk Management

Willem Visser, group asset protection manager at AVI Ltd., studied security management at Unisa, National Security courses at the South African National Defence Force’s SANDF College in Pretoria, as well as Training of Personnel courses at Atlas Aircraft Corporation in Kempton Park.

“The security management course covered risk identification, risk evaluation, risk control and risk financing. The national security course covered aspects of fieldwork in personnel clearances, evaluation and audit of security systems design, implementation of a security system and environmental health and safety. And the Training of Personnel course focused on identifying the training needs, design, implementation and evaluation of training courses, as well as computer-based training, supervisory and management training, and the functions of a manager and other management aspects,” says Visser.

Visser’s first job came as a uniformed police officer. “As all white males in the 1980s I had to do my national service after school. I was lucky to do it in the South African Police instead of the National Defence Force. At that stage I wasn’t sure what career I wanted to follow and later in my national service period I started to enjoy the police service. I joined permanently and moved from uniformed police to the detective service. I certainly did not have my current position in mind when starting out.”

That soon changed. “However, it soon dawned on me that the salary was not acceptable and, at the same time, I had an opportunity to move to Atlas Aircraft Corporation with a huge increase in salary and benefits. That is when my security career really started to take off.”

He says he can’t single out one particular event or project that helped shape his career since joining Atlas Aircraft Corporation. “There were several significant events. I am reluctant to single any one out as I was privileged to work with various talented and very dedicated persons in the security industry during the past few years. The success of these projects was because of these people that shared the common goal of fighting crime, and at the same time were prepared to think out of the box and approach the problem from a unique and totally different angle. I am in debt to them.”

Visser is now appointed to assist the business units and shared services across the AVI Group to improve their security levels and, where appropriate, to motivate the use of external services and/or other requirements. He also plays a leading role in all material investigations into criminal activity or those that may lead to legal liability claims.

“I was fortunate to have worked in various industries from manufacturing to distribution/logistics to retail. Over the next year or two I want to continue in my current role at AVI, but at the same time I am taking an active interest in e-learning. I think there is huge opportunity to develop quality e-learning modules that can effectively be used to train risk/security officers, especially promising new leaders in the risk and security field.”

When asked what advice he would have for up-and-coming security professionals on how to kick-start their careers, Visser advises: “It doesn’t matter where the person starts or what his/her current position is, he or she must actively participate in the risk/security programme at his/her employer and aspire to attend as many training courses in the field as possible.

“At the same time there are distance learning courses available and he/she should enrol for these and complete them while still young. Once you get married and start a family it is very difficult to do part-time studies; ask me – I did it with a young family. I have huge respect for people that complete their studies successfully part-time as it shows dedication and self discipline, qualities that are not commonly found today in youngsters.”

He thinks mentoring might also help a great deal: “Aspire to learn. While working in these industries, find a mentor/coach that you trust and learn from this person as much as possible. I have learned a lot from mentors, things that I never learned in any official training courses.”

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