Photography by Moto Miwa.
Sky's the Limit
While Emirates airline ‘keeps discovering’, its sister companies keep growing. FM Magazine meets Zack Zainal, Emirates Senior Security Manager of Training and Facilities, and discovers the scope of Transguard Group’s activities.
“Low crime doesn’t mean no crime,” says Zack Zainal, Emirates Senior Security Manager of Training and Facilities, about Dubai’s security standing. “That’s my tag line. Complacency is our greatest foe.” Having spent 16 years as an investigator in the Singapore police force and 11 years as an aviation security manager looking after 45 airlines, Zainal has a passion for professionalism in security.
Hence Dubai-based international airline Emirates sought his services to ensure its facilities were safeguarded against any eventuality. With a fleet of more than 50 aircraft flying to more than 78 destinations in 54 countries, the airline is at the heart of the Emirates Group. In his role, Zainal oversees Transguard Group, the Security Division of the Emirates Group. Transguard was created to meet the Group’s ever-widening security and facilities management needs and to compete in the open market of Dubai and, progressively, the rest of the UAE.
Transguard Facilities and Events Management (FEM) was created last year through a joint venture between UKWhile based Samsara PLC and Emirates Group. Headed by Mike McGeever, Transguard FEM undertakes a full portfolio of FM services, from consultancy through to operations, in addition to event management. Also within the Transguard Group is Transguard Solutions, which specialises in building management systems (BMS) and security solutions.
“Transguard is a one-stop-shop with regard to facilities and events management, security and security solutions,” explains Zainal. “Security solutions are about understanding the building structure, understanding the facilitation, understanding the BMS. From the conception and design of a building, in terms of security and FM services, until the building is up, we will provide those services – the whole concept, the whole strategy of the business.” Zainal adds that having a single provider for such services removes the headache of managing multiple contracts.
Transguard is involved at the conceptualisation stage of any Emirates building going up in Dubai. The company provides tailor-made security recommendations to designers and then installs the systems in the build process. Transguard Solutions, for example, was actively involved in the development of buildings such as the new Dubai Police Headquarters, in addition to Sharjah and Ajman police buildings and Dubai port customs. “We have the experience with Emirates for example, where in every new building we have the solutions experts coming in with us, sitting with us, going through what is the best system that offers not only security, but facilitation and allowance for future expansion,” says Zainal.
Having only begun seeking contracts beyond Emirates Group at the start of 2004, Transguard conducts around 90 per cent of it’s security work within the Group’s portfolio. At present, that represents around 44 buildings within Dubai, in addition to patrolling a number of compounds and cargo warehouses.
The company’s original activities included handling valuables, cash in transit and cash management. To this effect, it proudly boasts one of the largest and most sophisticated cash management centres in the Middle East. In addition to this service, Transguard’s banking clients – which include almost all the major players in Dubai as well as the Central Bank of UAE – are also availing themselves of CCTV installation solutions, access control and time and attendance systems, according to Jane Brinke, Manager of Banking Support Services for Emirates Group Security.
Transguard then expanded into full-fledged security services which, Zainal says, are underpinned by quality training. “We believe the most vital component in the security ecosystem is the human factor,” Zainal explains. “So security is everybody’s business and one way of doing it is through education. In fact, we are running a diploma in aviation security. We are the first airline in the world to have such a programme.”
Training lies at the heart of providing a good security service. Much has been said of the ‘watchman culture’ that has existed in the region for some time. But times are changing. Buildings and their occupants are becoming more sophisticated. Security guards are increasingly expected to multitask, with good customer service skills a priority.
“It is quality that really matters,” says Joss Anthony D’Silva, Security Manager for Emirates Support Services. “Quality and training are the dividing line when it comes to security companies. How much do you invest? Do you just have men dressed in uniforms or do you have trained security guards? Because you’ve got to show the client that this guard is going to give you not only security, but also a name to protect, because we’ve got a name to protect.”
Zainal alludes to Emirates staff accommodation towers in Dubai that typically employ a security guard-cum- receptionist. Two services for the price of one is the philosophy – albeit a slightly more expensive one. Integrating services and functions, he believes, is the way forward.
On a more macro level, Zainal is a great believer in the need to provide integrated security solutions. Zainal says the security of a building is greatly enhanced when one provider is involved in its design, installation of equipment and provision of guards.
“A lot of other companies are offering security solutions in terms of offering security guards, which is a totally different thing,” he explains. “They do not understand the security solution is far beyond just guarding. It’s about understanding the building structure, it’s about understanding the facilitation, it’s understanding the BMS. Security is not just physical security alone.
“Procedural security, psychological security, all these need to be put into one.”
The problem of having different companies involved, Zainal says, is that expensive security solutions are frequently not fully utilised or optimised as they are operated by a different firm. BMS systems are a typical example. Security guards are often not trained on how to use them or how to react to problems identified, rendering the technology useless. Knowing what to look for on screens being fed by CCTV cameras requires specialised training too.
On a more comprehensive level, Zainal says there is a need for security companies to align their activities with the commercial interests of the business they support and to understand their role and position in the wider context of a company’s needs and ambitions. This is much like the call for facilities managers to be conversant with the language of the boardroom when discussing the implications of taking certain measures within buildings.
“You need the man who wears two hats: the security hat and the commercial hat. Then you are able to integrate security with the business. At the end of the day, security is there to support the business and not the other way round.”