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Churchill, times of change, chalk boards and me!

“The power of man has grown in every sphere, except over himself”
Sir Winston Churchill…

It was a real ‘pinch yourself’ moment.

There I stood, in the iconic Churchill War Rooms – the building from where the British Government directed its forces during the Second World War.

The day was not just going to be memorable for the venue. More than that. I was preparing to give my first thought leadership address as ASEL Group Managing Director… Just a few days in post, it had been a sudden and unexpected whirlwind of activity that brought me to this place.
To fill my predecessor’s departure from Argenbright Security Europe Ltd, I had been approached and spent much time contemplating the role of Group Managing Director!

At the time, I was Global Head of Security for TUI; bestriding the globe making decisions that would affect millions of tourists.
Consulting with governments, conferring with local and international security services and armed forces, I worked at the highest levels to meet the tourism challenges thrown up by Ukraine and the Middle East, not to mention the myriad of other regions with potential bear traps for tourists.

Responsible for a massive estate incorporating everything from hotels and planes to buses and cruise ships, it had to be one of the best jobs in risk management. Why would I change? I had, after all, only left 18 months ago!

But Frank Argenbright is a persuasive man. After all, you don’t build a multi-billion dollar security company from scratch without a talent for persuasion! He and his team managed every concern with pace. With apologies, he “will never surrender!” And so, it began.
Frank and his team launched a recruitment offensive. They met with me to explain what they wanted, where they were heading and how they wanted me on the journey. They got my wife and daughter on board. Hell! Even Izzy, my spaniel, soon greeted them like old friends instead of barking ferociously and jumping all over them!

And once I fully understood the seismic shift they had planned for the provision of security in the UK and Europe, I knew I had to be a part of it. A grand finale to my longer-than- I-care-to-remember career. A fitting end, before someone shoves this old geezer through the door and I feel the thwack of it as it hits me in the back, on my way to a quieter life of wine, food and amateur sports coaching!
Now, here where one great leader had once inspired his team, it was my chance to inspire mine. Different enemy. Different times. Same goal… to win.

Surrounded by memorabilia curated from Britain’s finest hour, I felt the weight of history upon me, adding to my pre-presentation nerves. But then it dawned on me. Where better to motivate people to drive change than the very place where Churchill plotted Britain’s path to victory?
With the formalities out of the way, I asked team members to reflect on their own achievements. As I studied the room and mulled over the various success stories, I realised just how far we’ve come – as an industry and as a society.
Here we were, talking about how to manage crime with facial recognition and biometrics, when Churchill won WW2 in the room next door with little more than a chalk board and a map!

Today, I do not even own a chalk board. However, I do have an impressive suite of data that can tell me, in real-time, what’s happening in 3,000 locations, what resources are being used and, critically, will be needed.
Since taking over as MD, I have begun a mission to make ASEL a people-centric organisation. For me that means understanding my team and inspiring them to be the best they can be. I want to encourage a culture where bold decisions are valued and where we embrace and learn from all outcomes, whether successful or not.

The fate of the nation might not be in my hands, but my experience in the Churchill War Rooms was a stark reminder of the power of people being mobilised to action in times of change.

I’m no Churchill, but I’d like to think my team and I share the same indomitable spirit as those who helped us secure that unlikely victory all those years ago.

Dan Hardy
Group Managing Director

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