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: Denida Zinxhiria
Company Name: Athena Academy & Athena Worldwide LLC
Home city: Athens, Greece
How long have you been in the Close Protection Industry?
I am working in the Close Protection Industry the last 10 years.
What made you decide you wanted to get into the Industry?
I wanted to offer safety to others by consulting them on security issues and also ”live in the industry”.
What kind of duties are you currently involved in?
I am Athena Academy Founder and Worldwide Director, we run a Female-only Close Protection Operatives Academy in Atlanta, GA
What are some of the differences between working as an Operator and a trainer? Do you prefer one over the other?
One of the differences is that being an Operator, means you have the responsibility of a person’s safety, that by its own can be very stressful for some people. In some Security Details you may be the Team Leader, so you will have to give the right directions to a group of Agents so they all work as one body with one purpose, in some you will be the Security Advance, which includes a lot of logistics and research, and in some just a member of his close protection team, keeping your eyes on the Principal. You have to adjust yourself in different roles according to your clients needs and the job position you get, keeping in mind that your client’s schedule will be your daily schedule.
From the other hand as a trainer you are responsible to give the right tools and knowledge your students needs, and prepare them as best you can to be able to start their own steps in the Close Protection industry. After their training you need to be there for them to both assist and consult. Don’t forget the old hold the experience the new require, and the bond an instructor creates with a student can be amazing.
I can say that I do enjoy the both positions, each one of them offers me different array of experiences and personal satisfaction.
Can you share a bit of one of your best experiences in the industry so far?
During my first years in security industry, I, along with a trusted colleague was hired as a support team to protect the 12 year old child of a female CEO. Because we were called after the threats had started, we were amazed by the observation of the 12 year old who had observed more valuable information that some of other agents working for the family. After a couple of weeks, with hard team work and the police investigator’s help, the people who were planning the kidnapping were arrested. I will never forget that child.
What are the challenges of being a Female Protection Agent? How do you “even the playing field” compared to your male counterparts?
Depending on the country, Female Protection Agents may often have to deal with close-minded people who think that a woman’s positions is in the kitchen. I seriously have heard that, along with male colleagues that disrespect or doubt a person’s skills just because of their gender. Other times they will accept a woman working in their team but will be overprotective towards her, or make her feel that her position is undervalued in comparison to other Detail Members.
I would say if we can educate the industry about what truly makes an exceptional CPO, there will be no need to “even the playing field”. Executive Protection work requires a much greater percentage for using your head than your body.
If you have the ability to eliminate one thing from our industry, what would it be?
For men to respect and accept the fact that females can be trained exactly as they are, and can offer the same level services to Clients. I believe that opinions come from life experience, so the only way for a doubting male to overcome this prejudice is for them to give a trained female colleague the opportunity to prove themselves.
To those just entering the profession, what advice would you give?
I would recommend to them to research the industry thoroughly. Close Protection is much more than a well paid job and working with celebrities. Being a CPO can mean risking one’s life protecting someone who is not yourself, or your family. You will be working a lot of hours, so forget the 9-5 job, in short –your client’s schedule will be your schedule.
After they have decided that this is the career they desire to follow, they need to make a good research on the training courses and the licensing requirements (if any). They need to have a lot of willingness to have their eyes open, to promote themselves and not put it down after a 2-3 attempts of sending a CV and getting no responses.
Close Protection Specialist Denida Zinxhiria can be reached at 1.888.LADYGUARD ext 70 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org