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Interview series: State of the Industry

NZ Security Magazine, Oct/Nov 2017

Tony Patmore and Michael Pepper kick off our new interview series: State of the Industry.Tony Patmore and Michael Pepper kick off our new interview series: State of the Industry.


In this interview series, NZ Security Magazine speaks to respected figures within New Zealand’s security industry to gain their perspectives on the big themes shaping the industry and impacting on those who work within it.


It’s said that the only constant is change, but how often do we actually stop to consider the macro changes and structural transformations facing the industry? This interview series seeks to gain from the insights of people who are well positioned to see beyond the here and now and to identify the big themes and megatrends.

In this instalment, we are fortunate to be joined by two leading figures in the industry: Managing Director of Red Wolf, Tony Patmore, providing an electronic security perspective, and Security Consultant and dual ASIS certification holder, Michael Pepper, providing a security consultant perspective.


Tony Patmore

Tony is the CEO, CSO, Managing Director and Senior Partner within The Red Wolf Group. He has headed multiple SMEs over the past 25 years, employing in excess of 300 staff over this period, He has previously served on the ECNAZ committee including as President and Vice President of its Wellington Branch, and he is a current board member of TSANZ.

Red Wolf is one of New Zealand’s leading security providers, specialising in electronic security, monitoring and lone worker solutions, boasting a Grade A Security Network Operations Centre (SNOC) monitoring facility and ISO 9001 certification.


NZSM: What do you see are the key challenges facing the security industry in New Zealand?

TP: The main challenges we are facing in our industry sector, Security Electronics which for us encompasses Access control, CCTV, Intruder detection, perimeter detection, Intercom and networking are:

Fast changing technology

Equipment and software is evolving very quickly, this provides challenges and opportunities for both our company and clients, we have to stay abreast of the advances, filter what we feel has too much risk and chose from a huge selection of product offerings.

After selection and in-house research and development, we need to educate our clients of the benefits, train all of our technical and sales teams, there is cost involved in this so we need to be careful with selecting quality products and software where we can minimalize training and upgrade costs and maximise efficiencies in our teams and delivery.

Crossing over of services

Analogue cameras are being phased out in preference for IP. While IP cameras are in many cases exceptional in both quality of image and features, they use a lot of data.

Suddenly data, networking and IT companies with no specific security training, security qualifications or certifications have started installing security equipment, sometimes without realising the security requirements. On the other side we have security companies installing IP networks without any Network training or certification. Both situations above can cause problems and challenges for the end user and client.

Skills shortage and lack of training

This is probably the biggest challenge facing the industry currently, there is a huge shortage of technicians and security engineers, security companies have not been training enough people for the last few years and we have many leaving the industry. We do not have a security apprentice training scheme as yet.

NZSA has identified this and together with Skills NZ are coming up with a new system, but unfortunately it will leave a hole for the next 4-5 years. I have heard that we are between 1000-2000 security technicians short in NZ currently. As I am heavily involved with recruiting for our company I can confirm it is hard to get suitably qualified technicians in NZ currently.


NZSM: How has the industry changed over the past 5, 10, 15 years?

TP: The major changes I have seen I the last 15 years in security is the move from analogue to digital, requiring our technicians and engineers to become very computer literate. Software and programming is now a large part of their working day, almost all of our technical staff have a laptop on them at all times, remotely able to diagnose issues on systems, programming cameras, intercoms, access systems, security fences, managed network switches, updating software and firmware etc.

This in turn has meant we have had to budget for a significant cost in training, Networking courses, specific software courses, Microsoft Engineers courses and Computer engineering degrees for our engineers. Our staff get great job satisfaction from being able to do the whole job from running wires, connecting devices, programming and commissioning, job satisfaction is very high in an employees needs.


NZSM: Where do you see the industry is moving in the right direction?

TP: Security Technician apprenticeship: I see this being a huge boost to our industry and well overdue. In the past I have preferred to employ Electricians and upskill them into security as they already have the base skills and knowledge.

The NZSA has made some good inroads in the last couple of years to help get some direction, we are getting together and having forums to discuss and come up with action plans for the challenges we face.


NZSM: What can we do better?

TP: I feel we do need to raise the level of the Installation quality of electronic security systems in New Zealand.

In a former life I was involved in the Automation and Controls Industry, involved in designing, installing and maintaining complex PLC controls mainly for production machinery, the level of quality of installation in that industry is very high and I believe the security systems have evolved to be very similar in design and should be installed to a similar quality level.

This will require companies to have better quality control systems and plans and the industry to somehow audit these installations.


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Michael Pepper

Michael Pepper holds a Master of Science Degree in Security Management from the Department of Criminology, University of Leicester. He also holds the CPP and PSP ASIS Board Certifications.

A former Chairman of the New Zealand Chapter of ASIS International (2005-6) and Regional Vice President for ASIS Region 15A (New Zealand and Papua New Guinea) (2008-12), Michael has been an NZQA qualified workplace assessor and assessment moderator, and an NZSA auditor.


NZSM: What do you see are the key challenges facing the security industry in New Zealand?

MP: It’s been three years since I left New Zealand, but an ongoing theme when I was there was the convergence of IT and security. One of the things mentioned on the ASIS NZ website in relation to their Strategic Plan is that they are short on IT professional members. IT people have their own industry groups, but maybe this angle should be explored in greater detail.

Unfortunately it’s still the case that the industry operates as a race to the bottom in terms of price. My advice to clients was to never ever accept the highest or the lowest bid. It’s been an issue for years and I don’t see it going away anytime soon. That’s where I see the value of qualified and independent consultants as opposed to bonus or target driven sales persons who happen to hold a Security Consultant CoA.

It’s sad that the NZSA is no longer offering the National Diploma in Security. Although it never had a big uptake, there is nothing to replace it at the higher level other than the ASIS certifications.

When I ran the National Diploma program for TSSL the biggest problem among students was procrastination – it’s so easy to put things off. It’s a big issue with distance learning, and unfortunately it’s the only local higher level skills-based qualification the industry has – you need to be able to demonstrate the skills learnt.

There’s a lot to learn; it’s not an easy path, so all credit to those who’ve achieved it.

Then there are the ASIS board certifications. The exams are not easy; you need to have read the material very carefully. One of the things about the certifications is that they do take our skills for granted, so it’s up to candidates to be truthful in terms of their experience.

With the exams it’s about understanding the processes as opposed to demonstrating the skills. The certifications are recognised worldwide and held in high esteem.


NZSM: Are we getting the skills we need into the industry?

MP: Potentially yes. In some cases, lip service has been paid to training and skills development. Legislation has helped in terms of bringing in minimum requirements but it’s not enough.

The Skills Organisation is rewriting Level 3 and above. If this work is done properly, once again we will have qualifications that meet the skills need. Then it’s down to the industry to ensure staff are put through the training.

There has always been a question around willingness, especially in relation to smaller companies. Some companies go in deliberately and take a financial hit on it, and the NZSA audit process should be able to identify where they do, although given recent changes in the NZSA I don’t know if their audits continue to be conducted in the same way.

The audit process needs to have some sort of teeth, otherwise it’s just a meaningless exercise.


NZSM: How has the industry changed over the past 5, 10, 15 years?

MP: When I first arrived in New Zealand I got involved in the training side within a couple of years (2002-3). That’s when I really got involved in industry issues. There seemed to be a genuine desire to professionalise things. A lot of work was being done by the NZSA and others to get proper legislation.

Things seem to be going backwards a little, and the demise of the National Diploma is an example. ASIS is now trying to get people involved. The easiest route for people at the high level is to gain ASIS board certification.

Improvements in the industry have been largely due to strong leadership over the last 15 years or so. A lot of it comes down to what people have been doing in largely voluntary roles. To some extent, for example, the independence of those who sit on the NZSA board has been lost.


NZSM: Where do you see the industry is moving in the right direction?

MP: As I’ve already stated, I get the impression that training is going backwards and another indicator of this is the decrease in recent years in the number of ASIS NZ members gaining and retaining certification.

The public face of the industry – how it is perceived by the public – has improved, which is great, but that can change. If companies aren’t investing in individual security officers and crowd controllers and ensuring they’re properly trained for the job they’re doing, the public sees that. These guys are truly the public face of the industry.


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