GESCO Security Services
BY ELENA KOSOLAPOVA
AZERI OBSERVER STAFF WRITER
Interview with Ramiz Gaytmazov, the Director of GESCO, a private security company
Question: How long have you been working in the sphere of security and how has it changed over this period?
Answer: I started my career in security in Russia during the most difficult period – in the early 90’s. For several years, I worked in private security companies in Moscow and Tolyatti, then I returned to Baku and started a business. About seven years ago I resumed my activity in security services and since that time I have been working for GESCO. I was a chief of security at one of the company’s projects, then became a deputy director of the company, and headed GESCO just over a year ago. Now, it is much easier and less stressful to work in the security sphere than 20-25 years ago, we have new technologies which facilitate our work.
As for GESCO, the company has been operating in the Azerbaijani market for 15 years. It started with just several clients, but its positions have strengthened and the number of clients has increased significantly over this period. Now, we provide security services to many oil and gas companies, universities, two big embassies – Chinese and Turkish, and actively develop cooperation with the trade sector – shopping malls, large supermarkets, stores, etc.
At the same time, we improve the working conditions of our employees, implement international standards and have been certified according to ISO 9001: 2015, ISO 14001: 2015 and OHSAS 18001: 2007. As an employer, we ensure that our staff does not exceed maximum working hours according to international standards. Thanks to this approach, we provide better services than many other security companies. There are some companies that do not meet these standards and offer cheaper services. Cheap does not mean good and our clients understand that.
Q.: The majority of your clients are oil and gas companies and various universities. What is the difference between the work of the security guards in these areas? Do you have different types of training for guards of different spheres?
A.: Security guards in different spheres do quite similar jobs. A fire or attack could happen both at a university and in an oil company, and every security guard should be prepared for it. In the case of a fire at a university, the main task of the guards is to organize an evacuation for a large number of people. Meanwhile, in an oil company, they should prevent fire extension to flammable substances.
Oil facilities are strategic sites and the security guards are totally forbidden to provide any information about these facilities to third parties or take selfies in the workplace. We also have a full ban on smoking at oil facilities. The rules for the guards at universities are a bit softer. For example, they can smoke in a designated smoking area during the working day. But university security guards should have good communication skills and be able to smooth things over. They should win students favor and trust, that will help them to prevent possible problems in future. Therefore, we pay great attention to psychology training for university security guards. Moreover, guards at different sites have different clothes, shoes, and portable transceivers. For example, they are made of non-flammable materials at oil and gas facilities.
Q.: What qualities should a good security guard have?
A.: First of all, they must be smart. They must be able to make the right decision in time. We always emphasize that a guard should work not only with their muscles but also with their heads. They must be in good physical shape. They must be honest and responsible. And they must love their work.
Q.: Is there a big competition in Azerbaijan’s security services market?
A.: The market is competitive. There are a lot of security companies in Azerbaijan. We understand that if we do not provide the highest-level services, we will lose the market and end up with nothing. Therefore, we have a rigorous recruitment process, we introduce new technologies, and we do our best to improve the physical form of our employees, develop their professional skills and competencies through various training, and monitor their work 24/7. We have a special inspection, which visits every facility protected by our company two to three times per week at different times of the day and night to check if our security guards do their work properly. Every three months we organize a physical fitness test for our employees, and every six months all our security guards take a compulsory physical exam.
Q.: Nowadays, many women move into historically male-dominated occupations, including security. Are there any females in your company? Does their work differ somehow? Are there any situations in the security sphere where female guards cope better?
A.: We do have females in our company. Male guards should not carry out the security check of females, they should not enter any premises for women, for example, the female locker room. However, if security guards suspect that a woman is carrying a forbidden item to the protected facility, or something is happening in a female locker room, it should be checked. So, there should be a female guard at the facilities with female staff. In addition, in some cases, women indeed cope better with some security work, because it is easier for them to find approaches to other people and win their favor. But, we still have many more male guards than female guards. Female guards pass the same training as male guards do. They also have to be in good physical shape, be smart, and able to work with people.
Q.:Today artificial intelligence displaces humans in many areas, including security. For example, the popularity of automatic access control systems, video cameras with motion sensors, and various scanners are gaining momentum. In your opinion, can it lead to a decrease in demand for security companies’ services?
A.: I do not think that cameras or any other inanimate object can replace humans. If a surveillance camera is installed, there should be a person who views the video and is able to react to a danger and prevent an emergency. Moreover, a camera will not call the police or ambulance if necessary. On the contrary, modern technologies help us in our work. For example, we cannot have a security guard in every room to react to a fire immediately, but special fire sensors send signals and help us act quickly.
Q.: Private security companies do not have a lot of power in Azerbaijan, unlike many other countries. For example, you are not permitted to carry weapons. In your opinion, do you need more power?
A.: You are right. Private security companies in Azerbaijan do not have permission to use weapons. We are not even permitted to use rubber truncheons. If there is a case of an attack on a facility, private security guards can resist only with their bare hands. It limits our sphere of activity to some extent and impedes us from developing cooperation with banks and providing cash collection services. These services are provided by state bodies. If we were allowed to have smooth-bore guns, or at least truncheons, electric shockers, and gas spray, we would have more clients.