Why do we care about the manager of the Executive Protection team?
If you're interested in any particular field, you should begin by examining the leaders in that field, in order to understand that area of specialization on a deeper level. Executive protection is no exception.
For example, if we entertained the idea of enlisting in the military, it would serve us well to learn about the role of military officers, the leaders and the policy makers. After all, if you truly believe in your work, that's where you will end up eventually.
So, let us turn our focus to the executive protection manager (EPM), the one orchestrating the show.
What kind of background does the Executive Protection Manager have?
Generally, the EPM will have a military or law enforcement background, a bachelor’s degree, significant experience in executive protection, experience in international travel, and reputable executive protection training.
I’ll use one of my acquaintances as an example, we’ll call him James. After high school, James enlisted in the US Air Force. He served for 6 years as part of a Pararescue team. Once he got out, he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, then he spent 5 years working for DHS as an Air Marshal. Once he grew sick of this, he started doing Executive Protection for a Fortune 100 Company in Silicon Valley. Then a few years later, he earned his position as the executive protection manager.
If we can take anything away from this short story about James’ career path, it is this: if being the manager of an executive protection team is your goal, you need to plan out your career path methodically and have a purpose for all of your career decisions. Otherwise, you will never gain the security IQ that you need to manage an executive protection team.
Anecdote: While I was at a seminar hosted by Gavin De Becker and Associates earlier this year, I had the opportunity to speak with a senior-investigator for one of the top 5 US aerospace firms. Coincidentally, he was involved in the interview process of their current executive protection manager. I asked him what they look for in an executive protection manager and to paraphrase, he said they want someone with a military background, executive protection experience, and most of all someone who will keep a cool head and get the principal out of danger when **** hits the fan. He went on to say, they can’t afford to have someone that only looks good on paper, they need someone they can put all their faith in, to keep the CEO safe.
What are the Executive Protection Manager's responsibilities?
His primary responsibility is simple: keep the principal safe.
First, lets address physically protecting the principal. This means overseeing a residential security program, for when the principal is at their primary residence, and overseeing their security details outside of the residence. This is a monumental task, and the executive protection manager has a team behind him to support these goals. These are both tasks that the executive protection manager. can delegate to the manager of the residential security component and then the executive protection detail members. Ultimately, all of the responsibility falls on the executive protection manager if anything goes wrong, but he must delegate, he can’t do everything on his own. Lastly, the executive protection manager generally does the majority of domestic and international travel with the principal, rather than other team members. He is the most highly trained and he has the closest relationship with the principals, therefore, he is preferred.
There are many more components of the Executive Protection program that the executive protection manager has to delegate and oversee, that are less sexy. They include the following:
- Logistics - coordination of logistics with executive assistants and EP team
- Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) - travel intelligence, investigations, etc.
- Threat Case Management - managing/monitoring active threat cases
- Vehicles - maintenance of the EP team’s work-vehicles
- Other Equipment Upkeep - communications gear, medical gear, etc
- And on and on…This is not an exhaustive list.
What characteristics make the executive protection manager successful at his job?
The executive protection manager is successful when he is selfless. He must put his job (the principal’s safety, security, and convenience) above all else, including his family or social life. He will have to travel on all major trips with the principal. He is guaranteed to miss birthdays, Christmases, and anniversaries. This is an immutable fact.
Also, the executive protection manager understands that the greatest investment is an investment in himself. Prior to becoming the executive protection manager, he likely spent thousands of dollars out of his own pocket for professional development: executive protection schools, medical training, his university education, etc. And this paid off, in the form of his current success.
More on training below…
Executive Protection Manager – Advantages and Disadvantages
- Pay: $100-250K / year
- Training: You can attend almost any courses you want, and the company will pay for it. Plus, you will decide what training the executive protection team will get (and of course you will join them). With all of this training, you will also be afforded great networking opportunities. These networks are an extra perk because they will exist long after your executive protection manager days are over.
- Responsibility - You are responsible for the entire program, and if anything goes wrong, you are accountable. This could be a source of anxiety.
- Lack of Personal Time - This comes in several forms. First, the principal can call/text you anytime they need something (it doesn’t necessarily need to be security related). Second, if you can’t delegate in an effective way, or have inadequate team members, you will be mired down in the myriad of day to day issues instead of doing your job. Third, you may spend time traveling with the principal for weeks at a time and the principal will dictate when and where.
- Hiring & Firing (and everything in between) - You will have to deal with the politics of Human Resources, getting rid of under-performers, and hiring replacements.
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About the EP Nexus Blog
The EP Nexus executive protection blog, is a comprehensive resource for security professionals involved in executive protection, protective intelligence, threat assessment, and related fields.
Launched in March of 2016 as a resource for executive protection professionals, command center gurus, and close protection know-it-alls, EP Nexus is quickly becoming a resource for those seeking to quench their thirst for executive protection reading.
The most popular section of the blog is Executive Protection Hacks. EP Hacks is a series in which we address complex topics (one topic per issue) in a convenient collection of tools & writings. I am actively collaborating with industry leaders to produce future issues. If you're interested in taking an active approach in moving your industry into the future, contact me below.
Outside of EP Hacks, I explore the following topics in writings, tutorials, and webinars: online tools for executive protection professionals, open source intelligence investigations (OSINT), threat assessment, protective intelligence, travel security, and more.
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