A short time ago, Harlan Austin of BodyguardCareers.com sat down for an interview with Security Driving Expert, Tony Scotti, President of Tony Scotti Driving for The Circuit Magazine. The wonderful conversation between two industry professionals, covered Vehicle Dynamics, Executive Protection and Tony’s views on the current state of the industry. Read an excerpt below.
Circuit Interview: With Tony Scotti
Tony Scotti is considered by many as one of the most influential individuals in the business. Like Bob Duggan and Dr. Richard Kobetz, he is a true pioneer in the field of executive protection. Tony’s niche is driver’s training; he is the most recognizable name in that field. Since the 70’s Tony has catered to the training needs of industry and public service agencies. He has trained governments, corporations, law enforcement agencies and military organizations to avoid the terrorist threat. For four decades Tony has conducted training programs in over 30 countries, he has trained students from 64 countries, and conducted training programs in five continents. He has conducted more training programs in more locations than any other private training institution in the world.
Question: Who or what inspired you to get involved in the field of executive protection?
Answer – It began with a moment of opportunity, which was followed by a life time of inspiration. In the mid 70’s the concept of training people to avoid an ambush while in a vehicle was not common, and in fact almost unheard of. In 1974 two gentleman, Diego Arguello, a Cuban National, who worked security in Venezuela, and Steve Van Cleave, a security consultant and an original member of ASIS, took a chance on this new concept called “anti terrorist driving”, of which I was offered the opportunity to teach. I spent the mid 70’s conducting training throughout South America and the Middle East. The inspiration came from the positive results of the training and discovering how rewarding it was to apply my education as an engineer to this type of training.
Question: Do you think there is a particular personality type that is drawn to the executive protection business?
Answer – In my opinion, it attracts risk takers – not taking risk while on the job but taking the risk of getting into the business. They all seem to have a strong personality, have a high sense of morality and honor, and find that protecting people from harm is noble calling. I have found that the successful ones tend to be no ‘BS’ people and have a low tolerance for incompetence.
Question: What is the biggest misconception about executive protection?
Answer – This question includes more than one misconception. First, the misconception of those that hire the EP Agent is that the job can be done by anybody with a law enforcement or military background. Also, I feel it varies in accordance to the market. An example would be corporations who have a handle on what it takes to be an EP Agent. For the EP Agent, the misconception is that you can go to a school and come out and get a job. But by far the biggest misconception is that the job is all about reacting to a problem, when in my opinion the job is more cerebral than most in the business think it is.
Question: Tony many clients believe you can put anybody behind the wheel of a car; from your perspective how important is it to have a qualified driver on your detail?
Answer – I’m a bit prejudice about this subject. Driving is a measurable skill, and statistics point out that the likelihood of a problem occurring while the person is in the car is very high. For reason of safety and security, it is imperative that the driver be trained and their skills measured. In fact, corporations now demand in their job descriptions that a driver must attend a training program that measures skill – it is a liability issue.
Question: What tips might you have for new people trying to break into the executive protection business?
Answer – Training, Determination, and Perseverance. Attend a recognized training program, one that has a good network of former students and teaches the core skills: driving – advancing – surveillance detection. These are the skills that show up on job descriptions. Be willing to start at the bottom. Become a student of the profession – learn as much about the business end of the industry as you would about the operational end of the industry. Network – network – and then network some more. Emulate those who are successful in the business – do the right thing and pass it forward.
Question: How has Executive Protection evolved over the past 25 years?
Answer – This could be and will eventually be the subject of a book. The first issue that comes to mind is that there are more people and training companies than there have been in the past and I’ don’t think the number of jobs have kept up with the pace of people entering into the business. There are new markets available that were not available as little as 7 years ago. Iraq and Afghanistan have changed the landscape of the business. As the threat evolved so has the skills and training needed to defeat the threat. The market is much more diverse than it has been in the past, but it is much easier to network and communicate with others. The job is much more sophisticated than it was in the past and those that hire are more demanding.