Thursday, January 5, 2012

One Man Makes the Corporate Security World Less Secure Today

Mark Cheviron didn't come into work today. He retired yesterday, after 30+ years as Corporate VP - Director Corporate Security & Administrative Services at ADM (a Fortune 39 company with 30,000 employees). 

In some respects, corporate security everywhere is less secure today for losing his leadership and innovations, which he freely shared with the community. 

On the other hand, he single-handedly re-invented the modern corporate security department and left us a model for future generations to follow.

Mark was the first security director ADM hired. Immediately, his one-man department began to grow. Today, the security department has many specialized sub-departments, each staffed with some of the best investigators I have ever met. They handle cases all over the world, and have personnel permanently stationed overseas. 

I've had the chance to watch the growth of this security department from almost Day One. Here are the secrets to Marks' success from my vantage-point. I am sure there is more to it, but you'll have to ask Mark.

1. Make sure the security department is a company profit-center, and document your profitability. There were several years where I saw millions of dollars returned to the company due to Mark's efforts. For all I know, he did this every year.

2. Employ honest, talented, hard-working people to assist with the task. Inspire them, and hold them to account. 

His inspiration was infectious. Accountability to him was a welcome part of the package. He made you want to be your best, at all times. 

During these last two years at ADM, he made a concerted effort to get his team ready to carry on successfully once he retired. Why? Because, from Day One, right up until the end, he had pride in his work and he cared.

That's it. Two secrets to corporate security department success. Simple, right?

After my first five years with Mark, I understood his methods and vision. I told him, "You have the hardest working, most productive security department I have ever seen." Today, I can still say, "You have the hardest working, most productive security department I have ever seen," without anyone thinking I am being self-serving. Feels good.

I don't know if Mark is interested in acting as a consultant to corporate security departments looking to restructure and become profit-centers, but if he does, open the corporate vault. It will be worth every million you pay him to get what he knows.