Paladin Security CEO combines technology and training: CEO SeriesOct 22, 2013
The fall 2013 series of CKNW’s “The Chief Executives’ continued as Ashley Cooper, President and CEO of Paladin Security, revealed how he has successfully blended the latest technology with cutting-edge training to place his organization at the forefront of the security industry.
Cooper was speaking with respected CKNW host Bill Good in front of a live audience at the Segal Graduate School, as part of an ongoing partnership between the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University and prominent Vancouver radio station CKNW News Talk 980 to bring insight from BC’s top business leaders to SFU.
He got his start with the company, which was founded by his older brother, at an extremely young age, carrying out janitorial work to help his brother out at short notice when required. He then began working as a security guard while studying at university, and was able to use the job to fund his education.
At the time, however, Cooper had no idea that what he viewed as no more than a part-time job would eventually become a career in which he was passionate about – one that would see him spearhead the company’s growth to over 7000 employees carrying out security operations across the country.
Asked what sets Paladin Security apart from other organizations, Cooper revealed that they seek to specialize in difficult markets, and do so by providing their employees with the necessary training to carry out the challenging roles that other companies’ employees are unprepared for.
“Lots of people associate security with a guard sitting with his feet up doing little work, but for us, nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. “We specialize in markets that have the most difficult services to provide, such as healthcare. Training is the key to these services – it is the difference between average and excellent. We believe in education at every level and we make it part of our culture.”
Indeed, Cooper’s emphasis on employee training is such that he ensures that it is readily available throughout the organization. Paladin Security takes advantage of improvements in technology to constantly create new online courses, ensuring that employees are prepared for their roles, and are capable of progression within the organization.
“I don’t subscribe to the philosophy of looking at other companies for promising employees,” he said. “We grow our own people and train them along the way. We realized that in order to grow we needed to develop stronger management, but by bringing people in from outside it would water down the culture of the company. Now, if we have a vacancy and don’t promote from within to fill it, I look at it as a failure.”
The impact of technology on Paladin Security’s operations is not limited to employee training, however. The organization utilizes a high-tech operations centre, from which they remotely monitor alarms and video footage from across the country – a room that Cooper maintains is so advanced that it resembles the Starship Enterprise.
In an industry as competitive as security, Cooper recognizes the importance of staying informed of economic conditions. He confesses to not having the work-life balance he would like, and that in addition to long hours in the office, he spends a lot of time reading management and economic books in order to keep ahead of the competition.
“We have great competition at every level – Vancouver is a very sophisticated market for security,” he said. “Having such a competitive market promotes greatness for both us and our competitors. We push each other, which is great for the economy.”
However, despite the effort required to stay at the top of the game, Cooper has no plans to call it quits yet.
“I love my job and think I am the luckiest guy in the world to be able to do it,” he said. “My goal since I was a kid is to have a billion dollar company. We are not there yet, but we are getting nearer. A lot of people build companies with a view to selling when they reach a certain value, and I think that’s a big problem in Canada. I think we are a world class company, and I’d like to keep building this thing.”
The next CEO to be interviewed on the fall 2013 CKNW CEO Series will be Launi Skinner of First West Credit Union.
To see past interviews from the CKNW Chief Executives Series, visit http://beedie.sfu.ca/events/2013-cknw-ceo-series/