Philippe Simard began his career at GardaWorld 12 years ago as a pre-board screening officer at Montreal's Trudeau Airport. Today, he's an account manager for BEST, a GardaWorld company operating in the event security sector. Between the two positions? An impressive list of accomplishments!
A more-than-positive first impression
My career as a pre-board screening officer began 12 years ago when an ad in the newspaper caught my attention. I loved the idea of interacting with customers, I wanted to be helpful, and the airport environment really suited me, so I applied. Then, what inspired and motivated me to build my career at GardaWorld was the phenomenal team that works there, and the desire to push myself to the next level.
Happy to be climbing the corporate ladder
As time went on, opportunities for advancement presented themselves and I was keen to take them. So I went from a pre-board screening officer to point leader, then to service delivery manager, and then to director of operations to manage all the search points. My career path also led me to seize an opportunity for advancement by becoming the general manager of pre-board screening at the Ottawa Airport, where I stayed for just over three years.
Because of family obligations, I came back to Montreal, where I was offered an account manager position for the security of airport construction sites, then for hospitals on the South Shore as well as some buildings in the Montreal area.
A demanding job, but also an exciting one
Then one day, I was offered a job full of challenges: account manager for BEST, the GardaWorld division that handles event security. It’s a tough job, especially because of the demands on staff and having to manage complex day-to-day operations. It’s a real challenge at all times, considering the size of some projects and the sometimes extremely short deadlines.
In this type of job, you can’t expect to work 40-hour weeks; you have to be ready to do a lot more and forget about some weekends. But it’s totally worth it! I love the fact that I get to live experiences that not many people can imagine, like having exclusive access to certain concerts or internationally renowned events.
Working in event security requires a great deal of determination, because some obstacles can be daunting. But by persevering and applying everything you learn in the field, you can face any situation. Despite the lack of sleep, the long hours of planning, and managing many unexpected situations that add to the complexity, I feel a real sense of pride after each event.
A landmark event
My fondest memory is of the North American Leaders’ Summit, held in 2016 at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. It brought together the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, the President of the United States, Barack Obama, and the President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto.
It was a major operation that involved significant logistical and human challenges, which had to be overcome in a ridiculously short period of time. We were able to count on the support of several GardaWorld teams (the aviation team as well as the Gatineau, Ottawa and Montreal offices) to ensure the security of the close perimeter, which included searches with metal detectors and the use of X-rays.
We also collaborated with various agencies, including the RCMP, CSIS, the Ottawa Police Service, the United States Secret Service, the Sûreté du Québec and certain branches of the military that provided security for the three heads of state. It was an experience like none other, and the importance of operational logistics and the challenges encountered on a daily basis left a lasting impression on me.
Advice for new recruits
I love working in security, and my most important piece of advice to anyone new to this industry is to focus on perseverance and pushing yourself to the next level. These qualities are immediately noticed by supervisors and managers, and often lead to advancement. Being passionate about this job is also essential. The obstacles are sometimes considerable, and finding effective solutions quickly is part of our reality.
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