Behind the glitz and glamour, one often overlook the unsung heroes who walk alongside the VIPs; the unobtrusive characters who are entrusted with the responsibility to safeguard the VIPs under their charge.
Operations Manager (OM) Choo Teng Han from AETOS Guard Services is part of the team of Executive Protection (EP) officers, who have been professionally trained to undertake such a vital role.
Besides these ad-hoc duties, Teng Han is also an operations manager who leads a group of security officers who are deployed island wide in a variety of locations such as government buildings, shopping malls, data centres and embassies. Amidst his busy schedule, we caught up with Teng Han to find out more about his career in AETOS.
Tell us more about your primary duties as an Operations Manager.
Being an OM means that I am responsible for my officers – their welfare, arranging their work schedules, and ensuring that the client is satisfied with the quality of our work and services. For example, I conduct regular site visits to check on my officers’ wellbeing and to also attend site meetings with clients to review our current security operations.
How did you first get started in Executive Protection?
Prior to joining AETOS, I had some EP experience during my stint with the Maritime Security Task Force. When my current superior, Desmond, found out about my EP skillsets, he then invited me to join him in EP assignments, giving me exposure in security escort duties for a diverse range of clientele. The work that we do in EP is very dynamic and we have to adapt constantly to changes that occur due to project requirements or escort schedule.
The reality of doing EP is very different from what you watch in movies. In the recent Star Search 2019, we were tasked to escort a foreign artiste and to receive him at Gate A at the airport. Just before his touch down, we received an update that he would be arriving at another gate - that was 10 mins away! Without hesitation, we had to run all the way to the other gate and to start making preparations for his arrival. Being an EP officer is really not as easy as it looks. It requires one to think on his/her feet and to act quickly according to the situation.
In your line of work as an EP officer, are there any incidents which left an impression on you?
At a 2018 light-up event in Chinatown, my team was tasked to escort a group of artistes. During the escort assignment, there was a fan who suddenly dashed out to pass a gift to the one of the artistes. We had to act quickly to subdue him as he was quite aggressive. However, he calmed down after a while and we let him go with a warning. Ultimately, the safety of the VIPs under our charge is of utmost importance and we will not hesitate to step in if the fans become unruly.
What is your motivation to do your best?
My officers are my pillars of support. The assignments can only go smoothly because of our collective efforts in ensuring that duties are being carried out to the best of our abilities. Without them, I will not be able to do anything at all! That is why I always strive to put their welfare as one of my highest priorities and I ensure that their concerns are promptly addressed.
What are some of the important attributes of a leader and why?
A good leader should be one who is caring and always put the welfare of the officers before his own. If you want to work well with the team, you need to gain their respect and their trust. This can be achieved through small gestures such as remembering their birthdays and wishing them in person. Open and prompt communication is also very vital in ensuring that information flows both ways.
What are some of the challenges that you face at work?
The work of a security officer is often taken lightly. Sometimes, people misunderstand our intentions and think that we are purposely making things difficult for them. It is important to teach the new officers about remaining professional in their work despite the challenges. Our top priority will always be to ensure that there is no compromise in security, 24/7, 365 days in a year. I also attach more senior and experienced officers as mentors to the new security officers, to give them the proper guidance during their on-job-training.