Duty of Collaboration: The Changing Personality of NGO Security
By Matthew Thacker
Excerpt from an article posted on PSIImpact.com
Ask any NGO program manager in the field what a “security person” looks like, and they will probably describe someone who resembles an intense military commander from movies about World War 2 or Vietnam — gruff, hard to like, intense, but committed and undoubtedly will save the day. Some organizations want, or even need, this type of person in their high-risk country offices or headquarters to whip the organization’s security into shape the way only a former drill sergeant could. And there are a few NGO security managers and directors who do fit this description. But if you go to NGO security meetings, trainings, or presentations, this type of person is not likely who you’ll find.
There has been an overall evolution of NGO security coordinators, managers, and directors. The 21st century security manager is likely to be academic, with advanced degrees and/or strong research and analytical backgrounds.
To succeed, a security manager must have strong formal and informal information networks. Lives are saved or lost because of access to rumors, early warnings, and missives like, “You didn’t hear it from me, but…” Long-serving security managers have carefully cultivated and even guarded their networks across a wide number of countries as they rely on their contacts to get them out of jams more times than they can count.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of PSI
Matthew Thacker is the Senior Manager for Global Security at Population Services International. He can be reached at mthacker at psi.org.