Rob is the director of Downunder Security, a professional family business established in 1988, which provides covert and uniformed security guards for a range of clients and events. From being Rob Schneider’s bodyguard in Australia, to keeping an eye on the crowd at major concerts, every day is different for Rob as he travels around Australia to keep partygoers and citizens out of harm’s way.
What does your role entail?
As I am the director, I am largely involved in the management of the business as well as working on certain events. We have more than 50 personnel working across a huge range of security services. We offer bodyguarding and executive protection to people who feel at risk – whether it is the head of a company, a government official, someone transporting important documents or a celebrity signing autographs at a movie launch. We also do a lot of security for special events, which makes life interesting.
I have been in it for 12 years now, and when I started it was all about size – the image was that security officers were just really huge guys. These days, security is more about using your brains to verbally diffuse issues before it becomes physical. You need to have your wits about you and to be able to approach situations intelligently with discretion and understanding. You must also have a high tolerance of risk.
I have been approached by an intoxicated person armed with a knife – we later found out he had a mental illness. I can be confronted with situations where I have a split second to interpret the person and try to soften them to the point where I can diffuse the situation before they injure themselves or others.
A lot of the ‘old school’ security companies would like to avoid using the police, but they really are a vital component. Before I take on a new contract, the first thing I do is carry out a risk assessment, then contact the local area commander to tell them any issues that have come up so that we are able to support each other. Getting the police involved and having meetings with them every couple of months has meant a huge improvement in police response time to our calls.
Because you are always moving around and attending lots of different events, you have the opportunity to meet lots of different people. There are good opportunities for growth and to move around different arenas – to find your niche. We have people who have ended up in the police force or have become bodyguards for famous celebrities. One guy who started working for me fresh out of school was a very good communicator who had his wits about him, and he became one of the personal bodyguards for Tom Cruise. When Rob Schneider came out to Australia for three days I was his bodyguard.
The work can be inconsistent, but this can be a positive because moving around to different sites will build up your experience to make you a better officer. There are always risks to be aware of as well.
Research the industry before you jump into it. There are a lot of different security organisations with different philosophies and different areas you can move into. We get a lot of young people coming into the industry who then realise that the work is mostly on Friday and Saturday nights when they want to go out and party.