Icon – Behind the Bodyguard Business holds a spotlight where we feature someone in the Executive Protection, Security or Investigation industry. Our hope is to provide some insight into our profession and also show newcomers & the media that people from all walks of life and all parts of the globe do this type of work with honor and pride. No it’s not like the movies, but it can be rewarding, thrilling, and yes, sometimes fun.
Agent Name: Benjamin Alozie
Home Country: France
What made you decide you wanted to get into the Protection industry? I got into this industry primarily for two reasons, first because of the nature of the profession, everything it embodies and stands for. Protective services profession is about honor, integrity, and loyalty. The profession is challenging, intriguing, fun, and sometimes very boring. Protective services, above anything else is a profession that put to the test your skill set as a master planner, facilitator, escape artist, and fighter constantly.
Secondly, because I wanted to be in a profession that age would never hinder me from practicing for as long as I want to either as an operator, instructor/lecturer or a consultant, hoping at say age seventy I still have a measure of good health and still physically fit. The protective service was just the right fit because as I tell people, protective services profession can be compared to a well-brewed wine that gets better with age.
Can you give us a bit of your training background and experience?
I have a very mixed training background and experience; which comes partly from, the Streets, Services Industry, Merchant Navy, Private Security, and Paramedics. I get very emotional talking about my training background and experience because my training and experience for this profession started from the most difficult parts of my life. The harsh realities of the environment I was born in to and grew up in and my parents thought me a lot.
I learnt to live by moral values such as honor, integrity loyalty and more from my parents. Before the age of ten, I learnt firsthand from my environment how to plan, escape, and fight. For example while some other privileged kids are picked from school each day by either their parents or a chauffeur, I trekked home from school because I had to plan the routes I would return to later that same day as a young street hawker as soon as I drop my school bag. I also learnt firsthand street survival techniques like how to escape from street gangs, kidnappers for rituals, and thieves because my survival, continued education, and family’s survival depended partly on me safely returning home daily with my proceeds from hawking. When escaping was not an option, I already had the will and mindset to fight to the death in self-defense if necessary.
I am a trained and experienced operations manager with over ten years in the services industry that left a regular job to join the Merchant Navy where I received formal training in paramilitary operations, seafaring, and Vessel security.
From Africa to professionally relocating to Europe and speaking four different languages, I have held positions such as head of security, protocol officer, non-uniformed and uniformed security officer, security guard, security supervisor, protection specialist, executive assistance and much more. I have worked for, events management company, diplomatic families, private security companies, VIP nightclubs, international organizations, international private schools, for some of the richest families and private high net-worth individuals in the world, and much more. I am currently an operator, consultant, and an instructor at Excel Security Solutions AG Switzerland. To achieve all these I received several specialized trainings and certifications from many recognized security and non-security training institutions, and I belong to many professional associations. As an example, I am a graduate from Dr. Richard W. Kobetz Executive Protection Institute (EPI) in Virginia and a member of the Nine Lives Associate (NLA), the British Bodyguard Association (BBA), National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) and more.
What are some of the Challenges with being in this field?
I can talk about several but I think the most challenging experience I can readily share with you is the lack of proper training. Lack of professionalism and professional ethics displayed by individuals claiming to be protection professionals during assignments are some of the visible side effects of this growing problem. This problem is such a challenge because it gives trained and dedicated professionals very bad reputations. I once had the misfortune of working on a detail with some untrained and unprofessional agent. From day one at work until I finally left that detail, with a well-worded reference letter I might add, I did not know peace. There were times I lost the motivation to go to work because I could not imagine another whole workweek experiencing personal attacks, terrible power struggles, gossiping, back stabbings, eye service, and many other bad behaviors from individual claiming to be protection agents. I must stress that money was not the issue because everyone earned well over 1500 dollars higher than what others offering the same services earned. The problem was more complex because it was a combination of lack of proper training, professionalism, proper mindset, professional ethics, basic social etiquettes and ultimately the lack of understanding of what real protection work is all about. The lack of proper training remains one of the biggest challenges with being in this field and it has become synonymous to unethical and unprofessional practices hunting this industry. This problem evidenced by the fact that the uninformed public and some VIP clients still see protection professionals as people with brawns and no brains, which in reality is not a correct characterization of a true professionally trained personal protection specialist. I am sure all our trained female professional colleagues completely disagree too, with this notion that this profession is all brawns and no brains.
Can you share a bit of one of your best experiences in the industry so far? Wow, I have many pleasant experiences to share but since you want only one, I will pick from my favorite list. While reading R.L Outman’s excellent book “The Art of Executive Protection” I stumbled on Dr. Kobetzs’ name and then decided to read all his work and then attend one of his classes in Virginia to learn his protective services doctrine from him and his team of experienced instructors.
Day one Dr. K’s opening speech, Let me quote him in parts “Welcome… this class will be demanding, challenging and rewarding but it is not for everyone… not everyone will graduate from this program by the end of the week…we are ready and I anticipate that you have arrived in good health, spirits and well rested in order to receive the maximum benefits from this training program… there is a wardrobe at the entrance, I urge you all to hang your egos in it and pick it up on your way out because we all have hung ours there before your arrival”.
Just after that, speech and two days into our training program something interesting, rarely seen happened. With the exceptions of two brothers that attended and a couple of students who knew each other prior to attending the class, the entire class of over forty students bonded and became one strong inseparable team of professionals.
Nearly 95% of the students in our class were well-trained professionals from different backgrounds. We had active law-enforcement officers, former military officers, and border patrol agents, protection agents, and security officers, paramedics, shooting instructors, personal assistants, I.T specialist, court clerks and more. So here, we were a class full of highly skilled professionals from different backgrounds. Amazingly, because everyone truly dropped their egos in that wardrobe we became one cohesive team of protection professionals. It was one the best experience because I learnt firsthand and reinforced my knowledge from some of this industry’s best brains that;
- Misplaced personal egos at all levels within the protective services industry is a destructive element to team building, to a protective detail and to professional advancement.
- There are many protection specialists out there doing this industry proud, regardless of the number of untrained individuals doing just the opposite.
- All trained protection professionals have one sole objective, which is to satisfy the client by getting the job done professionally as a team or as a solo operator without reckless loss of life.
- That having people from different background in this industry is unique because it adds extra perspectives to problems solving especially during mission planning and execution stages.
- That our different backgrounds such as law-enforcement, military, corporate world, paramedics, information Technology, and more are all just parts of the building blocks that make the professional protective services industry so unique.
- The combining of relevant skill set from other professions and applying it in the protective services is why trained protection specialists are a unique blend of brains and brawns.
- Finally, Dr. K was correct in saying this industry is not for everyone and that not everyone will graduate. Some students came to the training and then discovered who they are and what the profession is. The school had to stop some students from continuing the training because of some very serious behavioral problems they found out during training.
To someone coming up after you in the industry, what advice would you give? I will say to them, this profession is not for everyone, know yourself first and what this industry really embodies before you decide to come in. After assessing yourself and the profession, if you are convinced this is the right profession for you, then strive for excellence. Remember that to be a successful professional in this industry you must be a personification of everything the protective services embodies and you must start by getting quality training from recognized training institutions regardless of your initial background. Do not forget to network with professionals in the industry and then continue to hone your skills by training and retraining yourself intellectually and physically until you quite the profession.
If you are ready for the serious commitment, challenges, intrigues, and ready to step out of your comfort zone sometimes, while mastering or acting as a planner, a facilitator, an escape artist, and a fighter, then I say to you welcome to the protective services profession.