Interviews

Hannah’s story so far

by Mark Rowe

What’s it really like for a woman seeking employment in the security industry? The field, mainly male still, can be quite intimidating for women, writes Hannah Chowdhry, pictured. She’s a law student at the University of Aberdeen, and working as an SIA-badged officer with the security contractor OCS. She writes:

I commenced my training at the age of 17, completing a course with Training for Security at the same age. However, I had to wait until my 18th birthday to apply for a security license. Surprisingly, I didn’t find the learning particularly challenging; in fact, I passed on my first attempt. This was in contrast to many other participants, some of whom had prior industry experience. During the exam, a 20-year-old male participant seemed to notice how effortlessly I was navigating it and asked me for answers. I had to purposefully ignore his request, maintaining my focus on the task at hand.

Door course

I was one of only two women on the door supervisor course, primarily conducted online. For practical sessions and exams, I had to attend classroom sessions, which caused some concern due to covid-19 restrictions. While the scenario-based elements of the course were done with the other women, a man would join us when three participants were required. Thankfully, most of the men in the course were respectful, and I never felt uncomfortable. The evaluation of the course surprised me with its emphasis on exams, particularly those featuring multiple-choice questions. This differed from my previous experience with such exams, limited to my Geography GCSE. I questioned whether this format truly gauged the depth of knowledge needed for such a critical role. However, I also acknowledged that the course aimed to deliver a substantial amount of information in a relatively short time. Some participants struggled with certain aspects, notably the use of CB radios and the language required, as well as the physical intervention practicals. Unfortunately, several individuals failed to grasp these components, leading to unsuccessful course completions. Notably, the coursework element of the assessment was minimal.

Lunch as an adult

The transition to adulthood brought its challenges, notably the newfound responsibility of getting lunch for myself, a departure from the familiar routines of school dinners or shared meals with family and friends. It was a somewhat isolating experience, but I recognised it as a part of adult life. Upon obtaining my security license, I joined my father’s company, AA Security, embarking on static shifts at a construction site in Barking, London. This site, a mixed development featuring an NHS clinic, a small cinema, and a multi-storey housing project on Axe Street, required overnight security.

To read on, see the March print edition of Professional Security Magazine.

As Hannah mentioned, her father is Wilson Chowdhry, no stranger to the pages of Professional Security Magazine as it was only in the October edition that he wrote about, having undertaken the SIA door supervisor course three years ago, he took the required first aid course and gave his experiences.

Wilson writes: “The security industry has undergone significant changes since the establishment of the Security Industry Authority (SIA). Increased levels of training, enhanced safety measures, and mandatory criminal background checks have ushered in an era of semi-professionalism. Consequently, the industry has become more appealing to women, who now feel safer, more valued, and enjoy greater equality than in the past. It’s truly gratifying to witness individuals like Hannah thriving in an industry I’ve been a part of for three decades.

“Hannah’s success is particularly noteworthy considering her temporary tenure, yet it remains immensely rewarding. Known for her honesty and compassion, Hannah would undoubtedly be an asset to any employer fortunate enough to have her on board. As long as she remains in the security industry, her presence will be invaluable. I hope her experiences will inspire even more women to pursue careers in security, benefiting from the ongoing improvements
in industry practices.”

Also:

Hannah has received an ‘instant star’ certificate from OCS. She’s hoping to take part in some volunteering helping young children from impoverished backgrounds in Thailand. You can sponsor this project via this crowd fund: https://chuffed.org/fundraiser/hannah-chowdhry-98v46f

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