Leaders in risk and security: As long as there are people, there will be risk

Issue 5 2020 Editor's Choice

Jenny Reid is a self-made success. She started her career in the security industry working as a PA for Griffiths & Associates, run by another well-known name in the South African security market, Howard Griffiths. Today she heads iFacts as well as 50 Plus Skills and The Orange (web links are included at the end of the article). Jenny is also a regular on the conference circuit as a speaker and facilitator.

Jenny Reid is a self-made success. She started her career in the security industry working as a PA for Griffiths & Associates, run by another well-known name in the South African security market, Howard Griffiths. Today she heads iFacts as well as 50 Plus Skills and The Orange (web links are included at the end of the article). Jenny is also a regular on the conference circuit as a speaker and facilitator.

Her initial stint as PA quickly ended as she entered the operational part of the business and took part in traditional investigations, including tasks such as undercover surveillance and operations. Eventually she bought into the company, which was renamed Griffiths-Reid, with Jenny as managing director.

While involved in investigations, Jenny says she saw that employees were often involved in fraud, either directly or as a support to third parties, and the victims only knew about this after the crime was committed. This created a passion in Jenny for understanding the human risk and how to assist organisations in avoiding those risks as far as possible.

In 2009, iFacts was born as Jenny bought the division out from Griffiths-Reid and set up an independent company. In developing her employee screening and vetting business, her aim was to create a company that allowed her to work from anywhere – a necessity in her busy life. Little did she know that in 2020 most of the world would suddenly be faced with the need to make remote working a reality en masse.

Growth over the years

iFacts started small with Jenny and one additional employee, and has now grown to a company employing 12 people. One of the strengths the company possessed from the start was adaptability, she says, meaning that so much of their work can be done online that an office is not really a necessity to ensure operations and customer service continues.

As it turns out, the pandemic has made her experience in setting up this type of operation valuable. As noted above, many companies have implemented work-from-home (WFH) policies, only to find that selecting the right people for this task is as important as making sure they have access to the organisation’s digital resources. How are top remote workers motivated to be productive when the boss isn’t always checking up on them?

This does not mean the traditional iFacts’ services are no longer required. Over the years, the services have expanded and today include a wide portfolio of options to assist organisations in mitigating the risks involved in hiring people. The services on offer include:

• Employee screening, vetting and verification services.

• Online employee engagement tools.

• Integrity and behavioural assessments.

• Coaching and wellness.

• Social media risk management (which is becoming an increasingly important, if not critical, service today where posts from a decade ago can destroy a career and cause companies financial and reputational harm).

An increasing network

As mentioned, Jenny’s work took her far and wide, including beyond the basic focus on iFacts. She is a regular speaker at conferences in the security as well as the HR and risk markets. Of course, while iFacts started in South Africa, Jenny has been asked to speak at conferences in various countries around the globe about the importance of vetting and screening.

Jenny was also the president of the Security Association of South Africa (SASA) for 10 years and was instrumental in growing the organisation. She says her years as president were busy, but she was able to grow her network tremendously, which delivered positive results way beyond her presidential term.

The market today

Thinking that the market iFacts serves would have changed over the years is a mistake. While there are new services on offer – such as the social media risk management mentioned previously – the basics are still just as important. Jenny laments that far too many people believe that pre-employment screening is simply a criminal record check. In reality, there is so much more than that.

As an aside, Jenny asks whether criminal records will remain a reason not to employ people in future. The reason is COVID-19; thousands of people will end up with a criminal record for breaking the lockdown rules. That won’t be a problem if you get a job as a member of parliament, but what about the real world? Will this be a good reason not to employ them?

Jenny adds that screening and vetting will become even more important in future as unemployment soars and people are more desperate than ever to get a job – and the syndicates offer new identities, fake education qualifications and certificates, and crystal-clear criminal records.

The process of screening and vetting is not an exercise of ticking the box, but must also go into more detail to ensure individuals are suited to their jobs and will be sustainable, productive employees in the long term. Again, the move to WFH policies changes things.


Jenny Reid

Jobs of the future

Just as the workplace has changed and the skills and attributes companies look for in new hires have also changed, Jenny explains that the job market and careers of the future have also changed. Young people looking to their future need to look beyond the traditions of their parents and what they learn in school.

When the previous generation started their working lives, it was the norm to try for a job at a bank or in government because it was a stable job with a good pension. The outlook right now is that not even the comfortable jobs in the employ of the state are ‘jobs for life’. Moreover, kids in grade 1 and 2 today are expected to grow into careers we haven’t even heard of – careers, not jobs. Moreover, they are expected to have between five and seven careers (again, careers not jobs) over the course of their working lives.

Jenny adds that it is no longer a safe choice to think, for example, that you will become a teacher and be in a job for life.

You need to make sure your skills are adaptable beyond one specific industry. In particular, soft skills are fast becoming more important in the diverse world we live in. iFacts has an infographic on ‘Skills of the Future’ at www.securitysa.com/*ifacts1. Young people need to take note of what is happening in the world. Many companies do research into the future and publish papers on expected futures and the performance of their industries. These are an invaluable resource to determine which industries are growing and creating jobs.

It’s also worth noting, she adds, that the need to adapt and evolve with the reality ‘out there’ applies to industries as well. If you can’t adapt and change, you will struggle to survive.

For more information on the companies Jenny is involved with, go to:

https://www.ifacts.co.za

https://theorangesa.co.za

https://www.50plus-skills.co.za


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