Person of Interest: Angelo Krismanic
Regional Vice President APAC for Pinkertons.
According to a recent report by the Australian Council of Applied Psychology (ACAP), Australian workers who are willing to update their qualifications and switch careers will have, on average, between five and seven career changes throughout their working life. This is demonstrated repeatedly by the number of people who, having left high school, study a degree at university only to take a role in a completely unrelated field. Upon leaving school, there are a few who know what they want to do for a career, but fewer still are the number who actively work to make it happen.
“After leaving school, an unexpected path introduced me to private investigations and eventually I knew I wanted to become an ‘inquiry agent’ as it was known at the time. However, this was back in the mid-1990s, before we had things like the internet and mobile phones.” Explains Angelo. Demonstrating the kind of drive and initiative that would eventually lead him to a role as Regional Vice President (APAC) of Pinkerton’s, and currently a Global Director, Angelo set about seeking out potential opportunities.
“I chose about 50 companies, some security companies, but most were investigations firms, and wrote to them to introduce myself and enquire about work. I knew that if I simply sent out letters, the chances of receiving a response were pretty slim, so I followed up the companies that didn’t respond with phone calls.”
When he did finally receive a response, Angelo was confident that if he could just get his foot in the door, he could demonstrate that he would be useful. “You have to remember that back in those days, to get an inquiry agents license, you just had to be sponsored by an inquiry firm. When one firm did eventually call me back, I offered to work for free. They explained that while they could get me involved in some inquiry work at an elementary level, the best way to gain experience back then was by working as a process server. They gave me the name of someone to speak to, and off I went. Back then, it seemed like that part of the industry was full of ex-cops operating out of a bungalow in someone’s backyard or from a room above a barbershop. Angelo laughs. “I don’t recall going to interviews with firms in Collins Street or Queens Street in Melbourne.”
“I can honestly say that my time working as a process server for investigations companies was some of the most fun I have ever had. Just as importantly, it meant that when those businesses need extra help with surveillance, or some other aspect of an investigation, I was on-hand to help. Because I was prepared to work, the firms I worked with began to give me more jobs and greater responsibility. Pretty soon, I worked more hours per week as an investigator than I was as a process server.
Before long, Angelo realized that there were opportunities beyond conducting investigations.
It was around the late 1990s, and I was working for a firm that conducted investigations for several lawyer law firms when I realized that these same clients also often used security, typically higher-end protective security, on many of the jobs we were doing.
There was one job in particular where a client needed some security staff. I was available, so I volunteered. It was only then that I found out you had to have a security license, and so I went out and did my crowd control, security officer certification.
Not long after obtaining my security license, I ended up taking a job with Securecorp. This was back in the very early days of what has since become one of the largest security providers in Australia. In fact, I believe I was the first full-time office employee they had.
It was while working at Securecorp that Angelo was introduced to Pinkertons.
“We (Securecorp) were subcontracting to Pinkerton doing a lot of their security work. I knew Andy Chambers through work he and I had done for Control Risk Group before I worked at Securecorp. Andy had since moved on from Control Risk and taken a role as the Managing Director of Pinkerton. At the time, Andy asked if I knew anyone suitable for a security manager role Pinkerton had been contracted to fill. As I read the job description, I thought, this is something I could do. It involved a lot of overseas travel, it sounded very exciting, and I had the necessary skills and knowledge, but I didn’t want to leave Securecorp as I was very happy.
I put forward the names of some people I thought would be suitable for the job. However, Andy needed to provide a specific number of applicants, and they were still one short. Andy asked if I could attend an interview to make up the numbers. I agreed, and as fate would have it, the client felt I was best suited to the role, so Andy called to ask if I would consider taking the job. They made me a great offer, so I have spent the better part of the last 20 years travelling the globe for Pinkertons.
In that time, Angelo has been fortunate enough to work alongside some of the most talented people in the investigations and risk/crisis management fields with a wide variety of clients from all over the world, which has enabled him to observe a wide range of trends and emerging issues.
“Following the attacks of September 11 in 2001, it felt like every company was dusting off their crisis management plans and adding a chapter on terrorism. I spent a lot of time in the early 2000s, conducting security threat assessments on manufacturing facilities anywhere around Asia. Terrorism was the thing everyone was concerned with.
Then, around 2008 and 09, with the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) impacting the world the focus shifted to fraud. Many companies were facing significant financial difficulties and needed good fraud investigators to try and figure out where all the money was leaking. Those companies that weren’t in financial trouble during the GFC were using fraud investigators to ensure their financial controls were as tight as possible to help avoid trouble.
Along the way, we had the emergence of diseases like swine flu, bird flu, SARS and the like, and so we began looking at Pandemic response for a lot of organizations which is now, obviously, a significant focus given current world events.”
Across all of the various trends Angelo has seen, from terrorism to fraud, active shooters, insider threats, pandemics and so on, technology still plays a significant in detecting and preventing potential issues.
“The quality of CCTV cameras, video management systems and video analytics have come a long way in the last two decades.” States Angelo. “These things are now tools that we can make use of in investigations to sift through a lot of footage quickly, find incidents and identify people clearly, unlike the archaic CCTV systems.”
“There are also a lot of great software tools out there that make our job a lot easier. Examples include real-time intelligence reporting software as well as permitted tracking devices on cargo and company vehicles and even staff (with their permission) if they are working in high-risk environments.
You can also get excellent fraud software capable of raising an alert if a specific type of event or transaction is detected, saving clients extraordinary amounts of time and money and embarrassment.
Looking back over his career to date, Angelo states, I have been fortunate enough to have seen and done a lot of very interesting things. But I have also done a lot of really boring things early in my career. If you really want to do something, you stick at it, and you keep doing it, not for an hour, or a day, or even a week, but until you understand it well enough to know whether it is something you want to do. In my investigative career, I worked out very quickly that I hated surveillance. However, I’ve done a lot of it. I did it because I knew it was a fundamental part of investigations that you needed to know and experience. Just as importantly, it has given me the ability to direct surveillance teams as I have taken on more senior roles. When doing so, I know what I’m talking about, and I know what they’re going through and what is and isn’t possible.
In closing, I asked Angelo if he could offer people looking to advance in the industry to more senior roles, one piece of advice, what would it be?
“Don’t be one of these people who isn’t available when asked to do something. Embrace every opportunity, try everything, make yourself indispensable and don’t be afraid to ask questions. But perhaps most importantly, think about the answers you are given and how you can apply them to becoming better at what you do.