As members of a vast, dynamic field, security leaders enter the industry from various avenues. One path into the private sector starts in the military, with security-minded veterans bringing years of specialized training and skills to enterprise roles.
Lisa Bateman, a veteran who served for five years in the U.S. Army, now works as a DC Shared Human Resources/Talent Acquisition Specialist for GardaWorld. As Bateman transitioned to the private sector, she realized the large amount of opportunity the field offered. She said, "Being in the private security sector, I learned that there are different avenues. You have loss prevention, armed security officers, K-9 units [and] tactical units. My military background prepped me for those different avenues."
Leading the private sector
Veterans bring leadership skills that can adapt to any vertical or facet within the security industry, according to David Bradney, Central Region Vice President of GardaWorld Security Services US. Bradney served as a Russian linguist in the U.S. Navy and was later commissioned in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served as an infantry officer up until his retirement as a Colonel in 2017. As a Colonel turned vice president, Bradney noted, "A lot of the most difficult parts of the [security] industry are leadership and understanding organizational dynamics and structure. You are pretty well-founded in that within the Marine Corps, especially as you matriculate to positions of greater responsibility and rank... [those skills are] directly applicable to this industry, probably more so than in most industries."
Bateman highlighted skills that lead security professionals to success, including adaptability, teamwork and being structure-oriented. In her work with other veterans, she's seen those skills reflected time and time again. She said, "I believe [that] we as veterans, we all have a sense of knowing. I think it's beneficial to hire veterans because we come with the skill set that we learned in the military."
Ben Brown, Senior Special Security Operations Manager at Microsoft and veteran of the U.S. Navy and Air Force, underlined how hiring veterans can be beneficial to organizations looking to fill security roles, saying, "Veterans bring diverse thinking and problem solving skills to the security domain and enhance corporate security organizations through their varied experiences. Veterans quite often have the baseline knowledge and skills required for security and additionally bring zeal and commitment to the industry.”
Veterans bring difficult-to-teach soft skills, including leadership, adaptability and decisiveness to roles in the security industry. When Bradney entered the security sector in his current vice president position, he was a novice regarding the business side of the field. That didn't serve as a detriment to his work; Bradney leveraged the lessons he learned in the Navy and Marine Corps to help lead the GardaWorld team. He chalks some of his success up to the versatility required in his military service: "Military folks are very good at learning a variety of skill sets based on the environment they're in.... Regardless of the fact that I'm an infantry man, I have to understand logistics, I have to understand intelligence. And I have to understand all these other skill sets that aren't necessarily within my occupational specialty."
The military emphasis on skill gives veterans the adaptability to succeed in the private sector, according to Brown, who graduated from American Military University. He noted, "I believe that in the practice of private sector security management, businesses and customers are better served by individuals who can model... corporate values and adapt their skill set to the organization through professionalism and flexible reliability, rather than strictly knowledge alone."
Veterans provide flexibility and adaptability in the ever-changing security industry. As security leaders adapt to new developments in physical and cybersecurity, those with military experience come prepared with the strong leadership and decision-making skills needed to be successful in the private sector.