While ASIS helps security professionals at every stage of their career, ASIS recognizes that our next generation of professionals represents the future of the profession. Each month, the ASIS blog features a Q&A with a NextGen member within our membership and share their unique perspective on a range of topics ranging from industry trends, and the value of ASIS membership to professional development. This month’s blog features Mirza Sheraz Altaf CPP.
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Q: How did you get started in security management?
A: I started in Security Management as a security training officer in Dubai. In this role, I was trusted and was in charge of the development of security training lesson plans, presentations, assessments and evaluations as per the syllabus set by Dubai Police. It was a wonderful start that any young security professional would love to have. It opened my eyes and ears, my total awareness to the length and breadth of the security world. It was a wonderful opportunity given to me in the United Arab Emirates. I learned and realized that security is the profession I want to pursue for the rest of my life, and there is a lot more in it to learn and appreciate than the guards, gates, and guns. After which, I was given the role of security and safety manager, where I was responsible for security and safety operations along with training of security and non-security staff from different hierarchical levels. I then worked as senior security specialist in a well-known company responsible for mega sporting events and tournaments, which was a challenging and worthwhile experience. Next, I joined the transportation organization as HSSE depot manager with a huge fleet of 10K diesel and electrical buses, taxis, limousine etc., providing a mix of public and private services as well as special transport for mega tournaments. Then in my last role, prior to moving to London, Ontario, Canada recently, I have worked for one of the biggest iconic malls in Middle East called Place Vendome Mall as a health, safety, and security manager.
I enjoyed working in various industries such as aviation, education, events, sports, transportation, and retail. It has helped me understand how my skills sets are transferable, useful, appropriate, relevant, and applicable from one industry to another.
Q: What do you enjoy about security management?
A: I enjoyed the diversity in security management. Initially, I only thought that security is a profession for those who retired from the military, police, and other armed forces. However, I met people with various backgrounds in the security industry. To mention a few, there were many professionals with safety, information technology, and engineering backgrounds. Even myself, I have diversified my knowledge and experience and currently, I am chartered safety practitioner of IOSH and holding various other professional qualifications such as MS Business Administration (HR), MBA (Marketing), MA (Economics), BS.Ed., diploma in OSH, diploma in Environment Management, Train-The-Trainer qualification, and many other international qualifications.
Everybody has something different and unique to offer and share. Whenever I am given the opportunity to network with these professionals from various specializations/fields of expertise, I appreciate and learn something from them.
Q: How has your involvement in ASIS International helped your career?
A: ASIS International is a hive of security professionals who are friendly and approachable. ASIS is the first association I joined over a decade ago and I really felt honored to be part of this association. When I joined ASIS, my initial goal was to learn about security management, and get certified (CPP); that was all. It was a short-term goal, which I achieved after joining the CPP study group organized by Mr. Peter Page in Dubai. It was a perfect opportunity for me to learn about CPP and ASIS, in general. After achieving my CPP, I felt that it this is the organization I want to be part of. I did not stop there, and I am still a member of ASIS. I was given various opportunities in ASIS by Mr. John Cowling, Mr. Phillip Johnson, and Mr. Nadeem Iqbal. After becoming a member, I became an executive committee member of Dubai Chapter, a volunteer trainer for CPP study group in Dubai from 2014 to 2018, chair and vice chair community engagement of NextGen (formerly Young Professional) 2019- to date, liaison for the Dubai Chapter from 2014 to 2019, and global outreach for the Middle East Region. In addition, I have been a speaker and moderator during ASIS conferences and meetings. I was offered the Allan J. Cross Award from the 2014 ASIS Foundation. It is an amazing recognition that helped me on my personal branding in Dubai Chapter and security industry. In short, I found an improved and confident version of myself along the way, while taking these different roles. It has boosted my confidence to the next level.
Q: Do you recommend a career in security management? Why?
A: YES. I recommend a security management career to anyone. However, it all boils down to the career interests and personal choice one has. This is a highly diverse and rewarding industry. I suggest one should do work that they really enjoy, so they never stop learning and always feel happy and content.
Every day in security operations is a unique learning opportunity. It is also challenging and stressful. If a person looking for a suggestion has the right attitude and personality, then I highly recommend that they should join the security profession. It is a very respectable, noble, honorable, exciting, and rewarding profession.