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RISING THROUGH THE RANKS: Part One

3 Strategies to Help Build Your Career in Executive Protection 



 The choice to pursue a career in executive protection can pan out to be extremely rewarding with time. The path will have barriers, but they will vary based on several factors. Some may not have the desired “cool background” being from a former career in the military or law enforcement that some clients seek, or maybe you do not have a strong network that can support your efforts of breaking into the industry, or possibly you're just young and lack the proper life experience to get your footing in the world of protection. I have experienced a bit of all of these and more but soon realized that these are indeed barriers but by no means should hinder your growth on this path. 


In this article, I hope to share some of my personal stories, barriers, and the methods I used to go from being a new agent executive protection to a security company owner who can provide opportunities to new professionals. I hope that this information will assist you in forming your career plan, prioritizing your professional development, and building a solid professional network.


  1. Make the Most of Where You Are Now!


 When breaking into the industry, like most, I faced some barriers.  Many wait a while before they get presented with that golden opportunity that will change the trajectory of their career growth, but for me, those opportunities came rather quickly. Yes, I was presented with many six-figure earning opportunities that would have allowed me to travel and live that oh-so-sweet dream in executive protection, but I did the unthinkable. I turned them down; the reason for this is that what many did not know was that I had some solemn family obligations at the time. I thought that if I turned the opportunities down for such a noble reason, they would all eventually come back around when I could accept them, right? Wrong. Turning those down meant just that: the opportunities were gone, and it would be a few years before they came back. 


So what would I do in the meantime? Although highly discouraged, I still had a goal. So I set my plan, and at master level, I would climb to the front right seat. At the time, my workload consisted of red-carpet special events, residential security, and nightclub security services. Sometimes, all in the same week, and some on the same day, with the occasional executive detail thrown in the mix. The grind was real. I looked at each level and found how to relate them to close protection and extract valuable lessons from each. 


I went from working in the nightclub lobby to being the lead manager. Whenever we had special appearances from celebrities, I always ensured I was there to provide the escort, coordinate with promoters, and always thought, “What would I do if I was bringing my client to a venue like this?”. On top of extracting every lesson I could relate to executive protection, I also took time to learn the ins and outs of nightclub security so that if I ever had to rebuild my career, I would already have a leg up over the competition. I went on to use that same model for exceptional event security and residential security, working my way up the ladder in each level and learning how to create dot maps, deployment sheets, standard operating procedures, post orders, emergency operations plans, etc. all of which has helped me in a big way on my career path.  


Once I started working in executive protection consistently, I realized that most clients (especially celebrities) go to clubs, special events/festivals, and homes, so my time was not wasted working in these business sectors. Be aware that some people who are more “seasoned” in the business do not respect the lower-level grind and the experience that comes with it, but  I caution you to ignore that entirely. You are on a mission, and what matters is that you keep focused on YOUR goal.


  1. Seek Professional Training


 As I have grown in the business, I have realized that being a good executive protection agent is not equal to being a good protector, and wanting an opportunity is not equal to being ready to receive it. Confused?? Good, allow me to explain. Being a good executive protection professional means that you can carry out the building blocks of executive protection ( advancing, close protection, driving, etc), all of which are 110% required and should be trained as much as possible. All of this is done to prevent and avoid an attack. But what happens when the threat is imminent and there's no way to escape?

Contrary to popular belief, you cannot “advance” your way out of danger; when the wolf comes, you must be ready and more than capable of facing it. This is what makes you a protector. How do you start? And more importantly, how do you do it on a budget?  I'm glad you asked; begin with finding a combative system that fits your needs, preferably something that helps you be well-rounded and allows contact sparring. The style matters little these days. Do your research and step out of your comfort zone to try as many free trials as possible until you find that gym or dojo that feels right. After that, stick to it, grow in it, and compete if you can. 


Another benefit of the industry today is that access to training has dramatically expanded, and almost every professionally recognized training service provider has scholarships, affordable online training programs, and payment plans. Never subscribe to the “just do the job, and you will learn” mindset; yes, the best way to truly learn executive protection is to do the work, but the diligence you show in preparing to do the work matters. Like a police officer or federal agent having to attend months of training before they step out to the field, you should hold yourself to that same standard as a protection professional. As mentioned above, it does not have to be an expensive endeavor immediately; take advantage of as many free opportunities as possible. Did you know some sheriff departments host classes like a civilian emergency vehicle operations course (EVOC) or advanced defensive and evasive driving courses? Most of which are very affordable. All of this can be obtained with focus. It is straightforward to get caught in a mindset where you want to be an executive protection agent so bad that you do not take the time to examine if you are truly ready for it. Look in the mirror, look at your resume, and be brutally honest about the areas you need improvement. Additionally, be open to receiving constructive critiques from trusted individuals within your network. 


Here's my recommendation: write down quarterly training objectives and create a savings goal to help you get there. Once your goal is set, start hammering your way toward being a truly effective protector ready to receive the desired opportunities. 


  1. Prioritize Networking Events


In 2018, I attended the International Protective Security Board (IPSB) Conference for the first time. While at the event, I put myself out there by shaking handstands, speaking with everyone I followed on social media, asking questions during panel discussions, and dropping my resume to every hiring company. It was a fantastic experience that is still paying dividends today. When you are brand new in the industry, it is wise to open your circle to new environments and ideas, attending conferences such as the IPSB Conference, the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals Conference, The Global Security Exchange (GSX), and many others like these you open to eyes to even more possibilities for your career and open yourself up to a network of professionals. Social media is a fantastic tool that can help develop relationships. Still, from my experience, nothing beats a handshake, meaningful conversation, and the breaking of bread in person. Attending conferences increases the chances of these bonds being formed. 

Joining professional organizations also allows for this kind of productive collaboration and provides opportunities for low-cost or affordable training options. In my personal experience, I have been able to associate with organizations like the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals and the FBI Infragard, where I received training in open source intelligence gathering, crowd control management, workplace violence prevention, the incel movement, and more!All for little to zero cost. These two organizations are national with chapters in almost every state, ASIS is also a very recognized organization that provides many resources for career growth. Do your research and see which organizations may be of interest in you , join them, and be active in them to get the most value from them.  


These three tips are a way to approach your career development and get the most out of each and every opportunity you receive in the private security world. As a company owner I have employed agents who are enthusiastic about executive protection assignments, but treat anything other than it with a very lackluster and poor morale. This kind of  attitude is understandable but improper. Be a sponge , learn the industry , and think not as someone who is solely an aspiring agent but as someone who is a security specialist seeking to further their career in this specific niche of the business. That change in mindset will help you operate with a new level of confidence and assurance as you continue to rise through the ranks. 


About the Author

Devon Taitt is a private security specialist and the Founder and CEO of Kingdom Risk Mitigation Services Inc , a licensed security and training company based in Los Angeles CA. Devons started his career working loss prevention for a retail store and worked his way up to protecting public figures in the entertainment world as well as corporate executives. He is also a state licensed security instructor with P.O.S.T level instructor certifications in baton training, handcuffing, and firearms. Kingdom specializes in security project management , protective services , workplace violence , and special event security serving the state of California as a whole.



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