International NGOs’ Security Manager: Mindset, Attributes, Skills and Knowledge of Today’s Humanitarian Security Professional

Published: March 21, 2018 | By Karokh Khorany | Library item

Humanitarian security practitioners should be distinguished from their counterparts in other sectors. As they should manifest certain characteristics that reflect the ideology of ‘humanitarianism’ and address INGOs needs while maintaining the professional image of a security expert. However, INGOs literature suffers from a lack of focused research concerning Security Managers (SM). Hence, it was considered pivotal to attempt exploring the characteristics of SMs (or adviser, coordinator, officer), within INGOs delivering aid to beneficiaries in demanding environments plagued by a challenging and dynamic security landscape. This research was based on a qualitative approach starting with a review of literature then interviews guided by the Grounded Theory strategy, with four country directors, four security managers and one security focal point in the HQ, representing four major INGOs whom maintain operations in arguably high-risk location (e.g. conflict zones). The findings from this research provides evidence that majority of SMs within INGOs come from uniformed backgrounds. Hence, often judged from that stand and considered rigid, close-minded and lacking the intellect; “just hard security folks.” On the other hand, security departments within INGOs are considerably novice, thus, not yet well-integrated as a function. Collectively, leading SMs to be considered as the obstacles for conducting activities (programmatic and recreational). Surprisingly, this issue is often attributed to the SMs themselves. Therefore, the main conclusion to be drawn from this work is that it is up to security managers themselves to change this pretext, through being well-versed and skilled around many disciplines also possessing the right mindset and manifest certain attributes that will enable them to do their work in INGOs. Collectively, the SMs that are valued the most by many INGOs are ‘the jack of all trades and a master of one (not none).’ Therefore, a detailed profile of a contemporary INGOs’ SM is concluded that includes a summary of tasks and a framework reflecting INGOs SMs, in terms of mindset, attributes, skills and knowledge.