Corporate protection in Sri Lanka: the way forward

By Robert Ingall

For business it can be a harsh world out there, what with political and industrial espionage, terrorism, business sabotage, to colossal fund and share fraud, not to mention acts of nature. Senior management can sometimes feel justified for earning the bucks they do.

The problem is that simply hiring security guards just doesn’t cover all the threats. Then there is complacency, or management just not having the time or expertise to do the necessary job. “There is also the fact that the right professional design for corporate protection and a fire safety model of a modern business unit can contribute to enhance the bottom line revenue yield,” said Damith Kurunduhewa, CEO of Strategic Security Solution and a specialist in corporate security issues.

Damith Kurunduhewa

“We don’t deal with security guards, we train the security already in place and the relevant management on the best ways to protect their business from a whole number of potential damaging scenarios,” he said.

And the number of solutions for those potential scenarios is impressive, from customised corporate risk management, to performance training initiatives for frontline security staff, to business vulnerability studies strategic and proactive planning initiatives, to name but three.

What his company does, and it is presently the only one in the country, is customise security procedures for companies against all imaginable risks.

Mr. Kurunduhewa, who is also the strategic security specialist, has two partners, Wg. Cdr. C.A.O. Dirckze, who is the head of Fire Safety Initiatives, and Mr. Shirley Silva, who leads the training.

But how did this unique service come about? After leaving the army, Mr. Kurunduhewa moved into the security sector with a number of companies, including SriLanka Airlines and the Richard Peiris Group, where he picked up his skills both here and abroad. What he also learned was the vast difference between military and corporate security.
From the security work done, it was found out by talking to those in the know that in many cases there was a lack of professionalism concerning security matters. This led to the decision to form the company, to address such lapses, in March 2005.

Advertising wasn’t a factor, he said, adding that the company has a number of blue-chip companies on its books.

The services offered comes in many packages from in-house to field training, where one basis lesson taught is awareness of the surroundings. “For instance, we have a situation that is important, especially for staff, say at a hotel, to be able to tell the difference between a guest and someone masquerading as one. The difference can be a life and death situation,” Mr. Kurunduhewa said.As for the training courses, they can last from two-hours (the shortest) to a week. And before any training takes place, the company does a study of the premises to put together a training schedule.

And as Mr. Kurunduhewa said, “The services we offer can be adapted by all types of business, as well families, if the need is there.” And the cost? “It’s not cheap: we like to say it’s logically expensive.”

“Crime detection or prevention in any form is a productive paradigm for a security mechanism, but whether it detects or prevents below the adequacy is the question that needs answering.

And that answer must serve as a benchmark of the protective standard of the corporate business organisation concerned,” Mr. Kurunduhewa said.

He said it was surprising that some security approaches and initiatives have opted for a rather slow grasp on this core need of the corporate business segment.

“Security designs and applications, more often than not, do suffer due to organisational constraints such as budgetary limitations, authority limitations and also due to miscalculations of real threats and risk parameters by the corporates.”

When it comes to dealing with the security personnel already installed, Mr. Kurunduhewa said it was all about raising the benchmark. The vast majority of those talked to are very receptive, the CEO said.

So it seems that companies should look at corporate crime prevention as a business investment and not a burden, even if that particular company is, as far as it knows, crime-free.

“These days with companies getting ever-bigger, extra costs have to be accounted for and security upgraded to cover the expansion. If you don’t and something goes wrong or missing, that company could lose its competitive edge,” Mr. Kurunduhewa said.

To keep himself tuned in, one of the exercises the CEO does is turning the sound off while watching the TV, be it movies, soap operas, even the news. “By watching the body language, the expressions, I try to fathom out what’s going on.

It’s a good training programme for real life,” he said.

But there is one thing missing from the company set up. “I would like to find a qualified woman to come on board. So far I haven’t found one who is specialist enough. In a perfect world she’d have a military background but has also worked in the business sector so she knows the language being talked. We’re looking, but so far ...”

One of Mr. Kurunduhewa’s dreams is to live in a corruption-free society. “It’s training people to be the fences that keep corruption out; to persuade them that it’s wrong. To get people that can make a difference to get their inner space thinking in the right direction, and then we can start winning,” he said.


Top    Back to Business

Copyright © 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.