POLICE recently warned businesses in Port Moresby to tighten security in their premises because of armed robbery cases targeting big companies. Most hire private security firms to guard their premises. Black Swan International joined the security business in Papua New Guinea in 2011. Chief executive officer BRIAN KELLY explained to The National Business reporter GEDION TIMOTHY its security operation.
TIMOTHY: The business of providing security is tough anywhere in the world and for PNG, it may be tougher. What has been your biggest challenge?
KELLY: Our approach is to create a world-class service capability and operating framework from our extensive experience in the global market. We integrate our expertise and competencies to provide holistic solutions that are tailored for each client’s unique situation. Our biggest challenge is convincing clients that there is a better way of doing things. The traditional reliance on past experience where historical events are used as a measure of likelihood and impact, or to put it another way, the conventional wisdom approach of establishing a 3G security plan – guards, gates, guns – is no longer relevant or cost-effective. A more proactive approach to security is now required, one based on insight and forecasting.
TIMOTHY: How can the relationship between a security firm and a client be enhanced?
KELLY: We believe that Black Swan is a “security partner” with a focus on minimising business risk. Business risk is a concept that denotes a potential negative impact on the business objectives. Once the risks have been identified, the business decision-makers decide what, if anything, should be done to minimise the exposure to the risk occurring. This is known as the ALARP principle (As Low As Reasonably Practical). Essentially, a business will dedicate funds to minimise the risk, but only to a point where the cost of further risk minimisation outweighs the benefits gained.
TIMOTHY: Black Swan is a leading security firm in the country. How did you achieve that?
KELLY: Black Swan has developed a strong reputation based on proven capability working in some of the most demanding environments developing innovative and professional solutions. We are mindful of geopolitical issues that may arise while you are conducting business within PNG. We are experts in mitigating sensitive situations especially at the “landowner” level. We respond to the needs of clients by developing sensible, future-proof, security solutions enabling corporations to achieve their vision.
TIMOTHY: Security is regarded as an integral part of running a business in the country. How have you approached the challenges?
KELLY: The changing nature and increased professionalism of criminal gangs (raskols) operating within PNG has forced senior management across public and private sector companies to re-assess their approach to security management. Businesses are being forced to change their mindsets to meet the new security challenges. Hence, businesses operating within PNG are compelled to accept the responsibility of minimising risk and eliminating crime within their own “areas of influence”. To avoid any conceptual ambiguity, in this instance, “areas of influence” can be defined as identifying threats and vulnerabilities that the business can actively participate in leveraging a positive outcome and/or minimising any negative consequences to the overall performance of the business.
TIMOTHY: Do you see an expansion of Black Swan to other parts of the country?
KELLY: Black Swan is currently providing the majority of its services throughout PNG. It is prudent to remind your readers that Black Swan’s primary expertise is in identifying crime. Our investigation services have been extremely successful in PNG. Essentially, we identify the security problem and then implement the solution.
TIMOTHY: What is the mission and objective of the firm?
KELLY: To provide a service above and beyond our competitors in order to decrease risk, decrease costs, and increase productivity for our clients.
TIMOTHY: Before coming to PNG, you were the CEO of a large security firm in Australia. How long were you with that company?
KELLY: After 15 years of service in the Australian Army, I was discharged in 2000 and have owned and operated security companies in Australia and the US since then.
TIMOTHY: With such expertise and background, we understand you have introduced new ways to operate in the industry. What was here and what was not here when you arrived?
KELLY: Essentially, our entire approach is different. We firmly believe that there is a security “intellectual property” that is lacking in PNG. There are so-called “security professionals” in every company. But I question their security intelligence, qualifications and experience. Very rarely do you hear the security market discussing “world’s best practice” or “international standards”.
TIMOTHY: Can you make a comparison between Australia and Papua New Guinea as regards your work?
KELLY: The risk to people in PNG is no different to any other country with similar socio-economic environments. With high unemployment and minimal education, you can guarantee high crime rates. Car-jackings, armed robberies, assaults, rape, domestic violence, have all been widely reported, although the Government and police are doing their best to minimise these incidents from occurring. I think it is important to note that I have travelled and worked extensively in Australia and there are certain areas within Australia that I am more fearful for my life than in PNG.
TIMOTHY: Why the name Black Swan?
KELLY: The term “Black Swan” is a risk management metaphor that represents an event or occurrence of extremely low predictability but it would have devastating consequences if it was to occur. Every company has the potential for a “Black Swan” event. So it is imperative that these events/risks are mitigated as part of the company’s risk assessment. “Beware the Black Swan”.