Security Forward Risk and Intelligence Forum’s Summer meeting was held at the Z/Yen Group offices at 90 Basinghall Street in the City of London. There was a record turnout of over twenty people, although one founder Member, Novartis from Switzerland was unable to attend, as was our newest Member HSBC. The meeting started with a presentation from our guest speaker, Mark Wolsey, Global Security Operations Leader for PwC. Having spent twenty five years in the Royal Marines, Mark moved into Corporate Security directing global security functions in Smiths Group, Cadbury and Phillip Morris International, before taking up his present appointment with PwC over three years ago. Mark has operated extensively in emerging markets, fragile states and many extreme risk environments including Yemen, South Sudan, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan. As well as giving internal advice to PwC’s own engagements in such environments, Mark is now offering advice to clients on the security procedures and protocols necessary for managing the risks and operating in such environments.
He had just been named as Practice Leader for Enterprise Security at PwC, where he is setting up the Global Centre of Excellence for Security. His presentation was entitled "Operating in High Risk Environments". In a fascinating and informed presentation to members, some of whom were ex-colleagues, he pointed out that regional CEOs are not life-and-death decision-makers. Nor are regional CEOs necessarily leaders in crises. Mark described how risk appetites vary and the value of crisis leadership training. He gave some case studies and talked us through what happened in each. The question and answer session allowed Mark to go into more detail on some of his points and we were lucky enough to hear the views of the FCO and the MoD, as well as major international corporates and academics which allowed for a very full discussion.
After our usual round-robin to identify ‘in tray’ issues and concerns, our ‘Speaker in Residence’, Lt Colonel Crispin Black MBE MPhil rose to challenge us. Crispin is an independent expert on terrorism, intelligence and security, as well as a novelist. Crispin’s pthy title, "A Limited Idea Of Fairness Lay Behind Both The Magna Carta And The US Constitution. A More Comprehensive Idea Of Fairness Currently Dominates Political Discourse In The Western World. Where Will It Lead Us?", truly said it all. Having placed the entirety of his talk in the title, we were curious indeed to see what else he could add.
As usual, Crispin challenged the audience and explored various and wide ranging topics to make his point. He used the example of Napoleon's Marshals and the social mobility that the French Revolution allowed to flourish, pointing out that there is really no level playing field in life. Whilst luck can sometimes actually be the result of good preparation, there is also a random element, pure chance, like being in the right place at the right time. Crispin contemplated the changing mores of religion and public thought. Whereas Christianity was traditionally about resurrection and judgement, we have moved away from the harsher elements of that judgement. He contrasted the current world view with that of the Elizabethans and quoted the book "The Elizabethan World Picture" which gives us Shakespeare’s perspective and illustrates Elizabethan obsessions with order. He also touched on changing views on sentiment as shown by the British public when Diana, Princess of Wales died, and also at Wootton Bassett when the funeral cars passed through. It provoked a good discussion.
Following the meeting, we took our traditional cocktail at The Honourable Artillery Company, which provided a splendid venue for us. The drink of honour was a French 75 (Soixante Quinze) commemorating the powerful French 75mm field gun. Our dinner speaker was Major Gordon Corrigan, the distinguished military historian and author, returning for a second time with a second book. He provided a very amusing but fact-filled talk on Waterloo, including many new insights. After the dinner, copies of his latest book "Waterloo: A New History Of The Battle And Its Armies" were signed for all.Future meetings are planned for 24 September, 8 December, 22 March 2016, and 29 June 2016.