Posts Tagged ‘Executive Protection’

On the Job in La La Land

March 8th, 2017 Comments off


Lack of concentration and potentially trying to be active on social media:

“Brian Cullinan, one of two PricewaterhouseCoopers partners responsible for handling the envelopes with the names of the Oscar winners, tweeted a picture of actress Emma Stone on Sunday night. The tweet, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, went out just three minutes before presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway walked on stage and announced the wrong Best Picture winner, one of the biggest Oscar foul-ups ever.” – Michelle Castillo, CNBC

Extreme focus during an international football match:

I recently attended a football match at Wembley Stadium in London, UK, with some colleagues and it was impressive. Working in the security industry, we noticed something even more impressive. The security guards did not take their eyes off the fans regardless of what might be happening behind them. Goal or no goal, they kept scanning.

Executive protection:

Imagine an executive protection agent providing services for a celebrity and trying to live tweet the experience. Like the 2017 Oscar tweeter, protection agents would not last long in that role if they were using social media in tandem with their duties.

AFIMAC CEO, Peter Martin, Quoted in Bloomberg ‘Facebook Spent $12.5 Million to Protect Zuckerberg Since 2013’

April 29th, 2016 Comments off


Facebook Inc. revealed that it spent $4.26 million on security for Mark Zuckerberg last year, its first disclosure of such costs, and the highest among companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index that have filed proxy statements for fiscal 2015.

The expense brings the total cost from 2013 to 2015 to $12.5 million, according to a regulatory filing. The cost was “to address safety concerns due to specific threats to his safety arising directly as a result of his position as our founder, Chairman, and CEO,” the company said in the filing. Zuckerberg is the world’s eighth-richest person with $47 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Facebook spent $5.6 million for Zuckerberg’s security in 2014 and $2.65 million in 2013. Last year’s expense exceeds the $1.53 million Oracle Corp. spent to protect Executive Chairman Larry Ellison in fiscal 2015 and Inc.’s $1.6 million for Jeff Bezos, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The figure also outstrips other famous executives. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. paid $370,244 for personal and home security for billionaire Warren Buffett in 2015. Apple Inc. spent $209,151 on Tim Cook.

Facebook made the disclosure this week after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in August questioned why the costs had never been listed in filings as a taxable perquisite. In response, Facebook argued that a “business-oriented security concern” identified for Zuckerberg exempted it from having to report those expenses. After discussions with SEC staff, the company reversed its position, according to a filing.

Home Security

Facebook spokesman Jonathan Thaw declined to comment. Chief executives of global businesses are often required by their boards to travel on company-provided planes or cars even for personal trips. More than half of firms in the S&P 100 Index had such policies last year.

Facebook provides Zuckerberg with a home security system and guards who also protect his house in San Francisco’s Mission District. The team is overseen by a former U.S. Secret Service agent who protected President Barack Obama.

Security “should be a board of directors’ first and foremost concern,” especially at companies built around a central figure, said Peter Martin, chief executive of security consultancy AFIMAC Global. “As a shareholder, you want to make sure that your CEO is protected.”

Closer Look

That doesn’t come cheap. Each around-the-clock assignment requires four full-time guards, which annually can cost more than $80,000 each, said Christopher Falkenberg, chief executive of New York-based Insite Security Inc., which provides protection to clients including hedge funds. A security director can earn about $200,000 a year.

Recent terrorist attacks in two European capitals and an office shooting in San Bernardino, California, have prompted some boards to re-examine security. While the risk for a little known top executive may be low, a person’s public prominence can quickly change, much thanks to social media, Falkenberg said.

Oracle’s cost in fiscal 2015 was for security at Ellison’s residence. Home protection systems can include camera surveillance, pressure pads located near doors or walkways to detect movement, and dense vegetation or crushed gravel that’s noisy to walk on beneath windows to deter intruders, AFIMAC’s Martin said.

“It is important to keep the boss safe, but there comes a point — certainly south of the $1 million mark — where shareholders deserve a far clearer explanation of the risks and provisions and the justification,” said Michael Pryce-Jones, director of corporate governance at CtW Investment Group, which advocates for pension funds that collectively manage $250 billion.

Still, rigorous programs that come with steep costs can be warranted for some, said Paul Viollis, CEO of security provider Viollis Group International.

“It all comes down to having fiduciary responsibility,” Viollis said. “Not providing protection would be like going to the Super Bowl with nobody to block for the quarterback.”

Family and Executive Protection vs. Yellow Jackets

September 18th, 2012 Comments off

Yes, you’ve read that title correctly.  Sitting on the steps of our home on a sunny Sunday afternoon while our daughters played on the front yard and rode their scooters and bicycles around, my wife and I had no idea that we were about to engage a threat.

Seemingly bored with racing up and down the sidewalk, the girls decided that they would put their climbing skills to the test and began scaling the sides of our steps along the railings, over the planter boxes and around the sides of the porch.  I wasn’t worried about them as much as I felt the plants were threatened to be squished by misplaced feet.

My four year old had made it around to the corner of the porch, holding on to the railings on either side of the corner pillar that goes up to the overhang.  She had one foot perched on a decorative rock, and the other on the edge of the wooden planter.  She was about 1 foot off the ground when she started to scream.

I looked and saw about nine to ten yellow jackets (wasps) either on or flying around her face.  To her, 1 foot must have felt like 10 feet because she was frozen with fear and didn’t let go to remove herself from the swarm.  I jumped to spring over the stair railing which would have been a straight line to her, but my youngest was in the way scaling the sides of the steps.  To avoid catching her with my feet as I cleared the railing, I jumped down the steps to the ground, then over to the corner of the porch.  In this time, my wife had also dashed to her – we reached at the same time.  I grabbed her under the arms, pulled her backwards releasing her grip on the railing, swung her around to put myself between her and the wasps (much like an executive protection agent should do to act as a buffer between a threat and a client), then stepped about another seven feet or so, which put us about 10 feet from the spot of the incident.  I brushed and swatted the remaining wasps from her.  My wife was at her side again now as well.  Once I realized that there were no other wasps on her and my wife was now aiding her, I jumped over to my other two daughters and removed them from the danger area.

Over the years I’ve received various training including each of Rob Shuster’s executive protection training courses. I’ve worked in the field for various protection details and been privy to many ‘out of class’ tips and best practices.  I credit all of this to my quick thinking and reaction.  Our daughters were our subjects to protect and my wife and I worked well as a team to bring them to safety.  In Shuster’s courses, he often discusses how you have to stay alert at all times when on an executive protection detail because routine can dull your senses.  A threat can happen when you least expect it.  How even at a subject’s home, office or any other location that is very familiar can be an area for a threat.  How true.

The threat in this case was a hive of wasps that had found a small space between the pillar and porch.  The pillar is hollow, so they were nesting there.  We never knew there was a hive there because it was to the side of our house, it was only a few days old, and the flight path (which I observed for a while after the incident) took the wasps away from our line of sight.

HR and security managers could use this story as an analogy for the daily routines of their teams.  For yourself and your executive team that are typically local or traveling within North America, I’d suggest self-applied protective training; either having someone with you or knowing what to do yourself can greatly reduce the risks.  If you have executives travelling to areas with a track record of kidnaps and crime like Latin America, I’d strongly suggest executive protection and/or security drivers are arranged for them.

As well, ensuring that you select a company that is experienced and well trained to protect your staff is crucial.  When an agent is deployed to protect an executive, they should always ensure the subject is the first priority – like a father allergic to wasp stings protecting a child.

My daughter escaped with two stings (one on her nose and one above her eye) which we of course treated immediately – and luckily she was not allergic as I am.  After treating the stings and giving some TLC, my wife and I applied some distraction techniques and she was fine (e.g. announcing we would all go for an after dinner ice cream treat because she was so brave).  After I watched the hive for a while to see how I had not noticed it previously, I destroyed it.  Our daughter was of course in shock and petrified when it happened, but the next day she came with us to look at the aftermath and climbed back up on the rock that she was originally stranded on to peer right into the space where the hive used to be – brave little girl.  Hopefully that helped lessen the odds of her having a lifetime phobia of yellow jackets.

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