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CSO Roundtable Program Focuses on Mexico

​“In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” That quote from General Dwight Eisenhower sums up the challenges that face security executives when they plan for crisis management, said Hector Coronado, CPP, Latin America Security Director for Hewlett-Packard Mexico.

Coronado was speaking at a panel session in the CSO Roundtable’s recent Mexico Security Summit, held in early July in conjunction with the ASIS Capítulo México’s annual Congreso Latinoamericano de Seguridad. The session, “Crisis Management Best Practices in the Real World,” was one of four panel discussion in the CSO summit that featured senior security executives from some of the world’s largest companies.

In the session, Coronado told the more-than 30 attendees that when some workers were affected by the outbreak of the H1N1 virus, it was urgent that the company be instantly able to provide all employees with information. To avoid the situation from escalating into a panic, Coronado and his team devised methods such as disseminating a phone number to employees so that they could call in anytime and hear a recording that described the situation and the company’s response in detail.

Jorge Septien, CPP, CEO of MSPV (a private-security company with more than 8,000 employees), provided the group with a broadly inclusive definition of a crisis, which can range from something that hurts employee morale to an interruption of the business’s ability to function. Septien, who served as the Latin America Security and Safety Director for Citibank and Banamex, noted that the humanitarian response to a crisis—how to support the people directly and indirectly involved—was as important as the technical response.

The third panelist, Antonio Gaona Rosete, head of security and loss prevention with grocery and department-store retail-chain SORIANA and a member of the CSO Roundtable, explained that true crises should be rare; he defined a crisis as an incident that is not contained. The more answers you have in advance, he said, the less chance of a crisis evolving. The difficulty, he said, was convincing people that a crisis could indeed occur.

In another session, “Protecting Employees in High-Risk Areas of Mexico,” CSO Roundtable member Rogelio Villarreal González, corporate security manager for ICA Fluor Daniel in Mexico, explained that his company has facilities in many high-risk areas of Mexico. Villarreal’s team rents houses in areas where workers will be, and then retrofits them with appropriate security technology. Several employees share the house and are subject to strict security rules, including curfews.

The solutions to keeping employees safe in high-risk areas is sometimes counterintuitive, Villarreal said. He explained that the cartels operating in some areas were not looking to attack the employees; but when they saw a group of men entering their territories in unmarked vans, they thought them to be invading members from other cartels. The Zetas (one of the local cartels), Villarreal said, had advised him to paint the company’s name and logo on the side of the vans so that it would be clear they were workers and not members of other cartels.

In the same session, Fernando Gomez, CPP, PSP, PCI, head of physical risk for Latin America with HSBC, discussed the importance of good intelligence that is up to date and tightly targeted to specific industries. For example, he noted that HSBC has been able to operate unmolested in areas that are dangerous for, say, retail businesses, because intelligence indicated that financial services were not targets of crime in those areas. He warned against the use of overly broad intelligence that provided a false sense of security—or insecurity—to businesses. And he was confident of Mexico’s rising star in the constellation of world’s economies, saying that an HSBC report indicated that by 2050, the country would be one of the top 10 global economies.

Arturo Aceves, corporate security manager with CPIngredientes in Mexico and a member of the CSO Roundtable, led a session on “Best Practices for Travel-Risk Management.” He described the challenges of keeping safe a fleet of salespeople who travel across Mexico in their cars, and said that best practices included the use of GPS and security kits in every vehicle. Fernando Gomez added that regular training was critical in helping employees understand security basics. HSBC employees need to go through and pass Web-based security training before they are eligible to go to what the company considers medium- and high-risk countries. This kind of training, he said, was desirable because it is easily audited.

In addition to the sessions, attendees of the CSO Roundtable program in Mexico City were invited to participate in networking lunches as well as a reception held by the chapter, replete with carnival games and dancers. Special thanks go out to Enrique Tapia-Padilla, CPP, Region 7A Vice President, Chapter Chair Armando Zuniga, CPP, and Jorge L. Acatitla, CPP, Chapter Vice Chair, for their work behind the scenes to make the event such a success. Vanessa Lopez and her team did a tremendous job in setting up the event, and Jaime Owens, CPP, Security Branch Supervisor for Autoridad del Canal de Panama and SRVP for Region 7, provided invaluable assistance to the CSO Roundtable program.

The next CSO Roundtable Mexico Security Summit will be held in conjunction with the Mexico City Chapter’s annual event on 8-9 July, 2014. n