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Malcolm Smith, CPP: Planning Ahead for GSX

malcolm.jpgGSX is a massive undertaking, with more than 115 hours of education sessions alone. To get the most out of the event, plan your priorities carefully, says Malcolm Smith, CPP.

Smith, who is head of risk management at QM Authority in Qatar and the ASIS president-elect, has attended upwards of 10 GSX events—his first back in 2006 when the ASIS Annual Seminar and Exhibits were held in San Diego, California. The pivot to an all-virtual GSX in 2020 enabled Smith to attend, despite the limitations of geography and pandemic restrictions, and it introduced him to new methods of managing GSX goals—some of which he shared with The GSX Daily.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Looking at the global membership of ASIS, how do hybrid events and platforms help with accessibility and education?

Smith: The reality is that virtual events are here to stay. COVID-19 only accelerated virtual events. ASIS recognizes the importance of community and connections, so we have provided a good platform through ASIS Connects where members can engage virtually. In general, we have our virtual platforms where members can engage globally and learn from one another.

Chapters no longer have restricted access only to their members during events thanks to virtual platforms. We’ve seen some chapters collapse, really, because they can’t run events. Maybe they don’t have speakers, or it’s a logistical problem. Now, we’ve seen chapters make their circles bigger by inviting members from other chapters across the world to join their virtual events—once again, stronger together from anywhere. This virtual platform that we have is really a plus.

You’re attending GSX virtually this year, so what is your game plan for the event?

Smith: It’s simple really: I’m going to continue finding and expanding my network. I’m going to start looking at who I want to meet and set up my meetings.

Right now, I am a member of the 2022 World Cup committee for my organization. Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup. I’ve had prior experience conducting major event security while I was in South Africa, but that was 10 years ago.

For me, plain and simple, my game plan is: Who do I need to meet to learn about the latest trends, best practices, and technologies for major event security?

What advice do you have for people who might be attending their first GSX whether virtually or in person?

Smith: Whether they will be joining virtually or in person, the first thing is to set goals because value is in the eye of the beholder. Do you want to increase your visibility? Do you want to partner with exhibitors? Are you seeking career advice? Whatever your goals, GSX 2021 can definitely support them.

If I give an analogy, GSX 2021 is a large elephant, meaning the content is huge. Therefore, it is important to proactively decide what value you want to derive from GSX 2021—identify which chunks of the elephant are most tasty and digestible so that you plan your bites accordingly. Otherwise, you’re going to just get yourself immersed and run around not knowing what you need and what you want, and that you could walk away from GSX feeling unfulfilled.

You also have to consider time and energy management. What I learned last year is I am high energy at a certain time of the day. By the time it’s 5:00 p.m. in the United States, it’s morning here in Qatar and maybe my energy is low. So, what can I do during that period that enables me to gain the maximum value out of this?

Consider your consumption of this big elephant and what will your energy levels be so that you take the right bites. For example, a good breakfast in the morning will ensure that you have a good day. At GSX, get the tenderloin pieces of the elephant first so you have a good day.

Most importantly, take advantage of all the learning and networking opportunities. Listen and participate actively to gather new ideas, help refine your existing concepts, and find cost-effective solutions to your organization’s problems. Again, whether you are a provider or practitioner, you will find the solutions for your problems.

Claire Meyer is managing editor of Security Management, the parent publication of The GSX Daily. Connect with her on LinkedIn or via email at [email protected]

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