How I went from Doorman to Director and why I made the career choices I did.
From starting off as a part time Doorman to starting my own event safety company, here’s how I made the journey and how I was helped along the way.
One of the most frequently asked questions I get is ‘Is your background military or Police’.
In short, my answer is neither.
Back in 1997, I needed some additional income and a friend of mine needed some support working on the doors at a bar in Manchester City Centre and that is where it all started…
The foundation of my career
Over the next 6 years, I worked at various City Centre bars; managing crowds, conflict situations, developing my customer service skills, understanding the effects of drugs & alcohol, developing relationships with the Local Authority, venue management, Police and other key emergency service personnel. This foundation gave me so much more than I ever imagined, and now, when I look back , it was the foundation to the career experiences I’ve been lucky enough to have gained since.
My education at this point was limited to G.C.S.E’s & A level qualifications. I had no desire to go to university so I knew I had to work hard to carve a career in an industry that wasn’t reliant totally on qualifications, and gave those with experience a chance.
My first taste of major events
Fast forward to 2004, I saw a job advert for an Event Security company called ‘Special Events’ who required SIA licensed staff to work at a number of locations throughout the Northwest. I applied for the job and a few days later I was deployed in a 2 x man Response Team at the Halton Stadium – home to Widnes Vikings Rugby League team.
Then followed work at the Aintree Grand National, Epsom Derby, Royal Ascot, Global Gathering, Liverpool Council, St Helens Council to name a few. I was exposed to working closely alongside the company Directors, Mark Grant & Kevin D’Arcy in various roles as a Supervisor initially but soon progressed to a Sector Manager.
I describe these people as ‘old school operators’, they just had a way of ‘making things work’. They controlled everything and delivered some very high-profile events. It gave me a priceless operational insight and education more valuable than any degree qualification could have given me.
Three years later, in 2007, an Operations Manager position became available, overseeing Epsom, Cheltenham, Ascot & Sandown racecourses and working under the Regional Manager, Kevin D’Arcy. I jumped at the chance and successfully secured the role. I was now Security Operations Manager for Royal Ascot, Epsom Derby and Cheltenham Gold Cup. My education of major events had begun.
Expanding and developing my knowledge on business processes, legislation, Crowd Management, Security plans, Safety requirements, budgets, training, recruitment, invoicing, customer relationships, staff deployments, event logistics – I was unbelievably lucky to be learning from such experienced event organisers and wider teams
My exposure to the live music scene and education in business processes
In 2008, another amazing turn in my career came when the global security company G4S, acquired both Special Events and Rocksteady Group, who specialised in sports and live music. This gave me an opportunity to move back North and work with the Senior Management team of Rocksteady which opened a whole new sector that i’d not really had exposure to which was live music.
I worked predominantly with Jim McDonald and his team in the Manchester office, but also on Fred Cucchi, Peter Croy & Mark Hamilton led events. They were the Senior Management team at Rocksteady Group. I assisted in the planning and delivery of festivals, arena concerts and one-off music events featuring world-renowned artists. Again, I was learning off some of the best and most highly rated in the industry in this sector.
Alongside this though, in the background was the G4S business machine, implementing policies, procedures, legislation, and system restrictions that i’d never been to exposed before but something I genuinely enjoyed learning about.
During my time as Regional Event Manager at G4S, I became knowledgeable of business processes, large scale workforce management, financial controls and customer relationships. I oversaw some of the UK’s largest concerts, arenas, festivals, major sporting events including Football, Cricket, Rugby, Horse Racing, Formula one, Superbikes plus Party Political Conferences and Local Council events. I had industry leading figures such as Keith Still & Mark Hamilton at my disposal, to educate me in Crowd Management and give assurances that my plans would work, which I’m very privileged to have had.
Landing my dream job
In 2014, I applied for and landed my dream job. Working as the Safety & Security Manager at Manchester City Football Club. As a City fan all my life and having been involved with the club for 3 seasons whilst representing G4S and seeing first hand the direction and business plans the club was taking, it was exciting times.
Working on the security deployments, crowd management plans, contingency plans, overseas travel, security tenders, I developed into the new function as a Safety officer and educated my way through the relevant qualifications. It was simply the best thing I ever did.
There came a point though where I realised I had nowhere to go in the structure within the organization, so I made a huge decision to leave my dream job. Now, here I am 6 months into running my own business, Event Safety International Ltd. I’ve teamed up with a group of well respected industry Associates to become a full service safety and security provider.
The start of a new chapter
So far my new venture has seen me as Safety Officer at the European Championships, Security Manager at the FIFA Club World Cup, Security Manager at the AFC Asian Cup, Security Manager for SJM Promotions for Little Mix, Liam Gallagher and The Killers concerts and will hopefully have many more events to add to the portfolio over the coming months and years.
Throughout this period I’ve managed events attended by over 20 million spectators, controlled contracts worth over £40 million, deployed way in excess of 5 million Stewarding & Security positions and had worldwide exposure to see first hand what is good practice across various industry sectors including technology, training & education.
It has been an interesting couple of decades with plenty of amazing experiences and stories to tell. I’m grateful for the friend who gave me the job working on the doors 21 years ago and also to all the people who have supported me along the way up to this point.
2019 will see further investment in the business by adding to my H&S qualifications, counter terrorism knowledge and training qualifications. Event Safety International will also look to help develop the next generation of Safety & Security Managers, as those mentioned previously did for me.