21-23 Aug 2024
ICC, Sydney

Person of Interest: David Cameron

Sep 9, 2021

Chief Security Officer for International SOS

Ancient Chinese sage Confucius is often quoted as saying, “Choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life”.

For most people, the challenge in this statement rests in identifying what it is that they love enough to want to do it every day of their lives. For David Cameron, this was never really a question.

“I grew up in Townsville”, recounts David, “and I think I probably spent far too much time sitting by the road watching the passing army trucks. From the age of about four years old, I knew I wanted to be a soldier.”

His early career

Enlisting straight out of school, David spent 17 years in the Australian Defense Force, serving with such prestigious units as the Commando Regiment and the Australian Special Air Service Regiment.

After leaving the military, David undertook a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) before joining Westpac in a managerial role where he ran several banking branches. However, retail banking was never going to be a long term fit for someone with David’s background. After only a few short years, David accepted a role with International SOS as a security operations manager before becoming a regional security director and eventually taking on the role of Chief Security Officer in 2010.

Emerging security trends

In his current role, David oversees and is exposed to security teams and operations in organisations across the globe, giving him ample opportunity to observe emerging trends over the last decade.

“I think one of the most significant shifts we have seen in the security space in recent years is the growing emphasis on cybersecurity, InfoSec, and privacy.

“This varies from company to company,” explains David. “There are some organisations where physical security and InfoSec are combined under the same management structure. However, those organisations still appear to be the exception and tend to be large corporations. It is still more often the case that physical security and cybersecurity are separate but cooperative departments, as is the case in our organisation,” explains David. “We have a group head of InfoSec and Compliance with whom I work hand-in-hand. It’s a very positive, complementary relationship that works exceptionally well.

“Another important trend has been the increasing prevalence of open-source intelligence and tools that help us mine, interpret and make use of that information”, states David. ” I find myself increasingly relying on cyber-based tools to mine and extrapolate data from open-sources such as social media. These tools supplement other commercial information resources and help us predict the next threat or risk that we face as an organisation, be it activist related, workplace violence-related or even geopolitical.”

However, as important as cybersecurity and infosec has become, David feels perhaps the most significant lesson he has learned throughout his career is never to underestimate the importance of people in all aspects of security and taking the time to understand those people you are dealing with.

“Whether you are involved in carrying out investigations, training people to achieve a certain level of compliance, or simply trying to understand the context of a given situation, I believe the most important tool you can develop as a security professional is your ability to listen to the people. If you can really listen to and understand people, you have a much greater chance of protecting them and getting them to do the right things to help you secure the best outcome.

“I also think it’s important to continually sharpen the sword, metaphorically,” states David. Following the completion of my MBA, I also completed a Master’s degree in security and risk management. That was very useful for me in terms of formalising the experience that I’d had, and I would encourage anyone looking to move into more senior security roles to engage in some form of study.

“Completing an MBA was good for me because it helped me transition from Defense into the private sector. However, if I had to prioritise what I was going to study, I would have to say the security and risk management education has been invaluable. The other skill I believe is invaluable to any security manager is the ability to collaborate effectively. There are a lot of very talented people across the multitude of organisations that we work with. The extent to which you can effectively cooperate with people from different functions and areas of a business to serve the mission of your organisation, I believe, is integral to your success.”

David Cameron will be presenting at the ASIAL Security Conference to discuss Security in a Post COVID World.

To hear his insights and many other security professionals’ register now and purchase your conference tickets to Security Virtual, 17-18 November 2021.



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