“A valuable opportunity” – Advisory Panel Members reflect on 2023 conference

Senior security professionals commented on the success of the ISJ Leaders in Security Conference 2023, which took place at the Grosvenor Hotel, Dubai Marina, UAE on 10 May.

John Cowling, Conference Chair and District Security Manager Middle East & CIS, Caterpillar, and Yacine Benamane, Security Manager, Unilever North Africa & Middle East, praised the opportunities to discuss key trends shaping security in the MENA region and how the forum enables senior leaders to truly reflect on their strategies and leadership styles.

“Reflecting on another ISJ Leaders in Security Conference hosted by International Security Journal, I am pleased to witness how our industry leaders continue to share their knowledge and experiences with the aim of improving our global society in a safe and secure manner whilst respecting ethical and moral principles including diversity, inclusion and equity,” commented Cowling.

“Over the years, I have seen the long term benefits of being involved in ISJ events and the publication, becoming more apparent to our industry professionals, large and small, newly joined as well as those more experienced.

“I am sure that as our career journey progresses, that many of us will continue and expand our personal and professional interaction with likeminded security professionals at other ISJ hosted events.

“It was an honour to be this year’s Conference Chair and witness the passion and dedication that speakers, panel members and participants demonstrated; I encourage all of you to join me once again at next year’s ISJ Leaders in Security events.”

“The 2023 version of the ISJ Leaders in Security Conference didn’t hold back on its promise to bring together leading figures from the Middle East & North Africa’s security industry to deliver a high class event, addressing regional threat landscapes, business security strategies and latest trends and innovations from the region,” added Benamane.

“While many conference’s attendees were familiar with the ISJ concept, several were pleasantly surprised by the depth and diversity of topics and the vast array of learning and networking opportunities which make this in-person experience invaluable.

“The world seems to be trapped in “permacrisis” that stretches beyond the pandemic, climate change; as a risk management professional, I’m responsible to advise corporations on real business security challenges and I’m mandated to attend such events to explore practical and cost effective solutions.”

Benamane continued: “The event provided me with a valuable opportunity to check my risk management approach by reconnecting with industry colleagues and vendors, but also meeting new faces, exchanging ideas and knowledge and gaining insights into the latest trends and best practices in various security fields.

“As we look ahead to a year of continued uncertainty, organisations across the region face a multitude of social, economic and health-related threats.

“Adopting a proactive risk management approach and building resilience ahead of the curve to mitigate risk and, subsequently, be better prepared to take advantage of the opportunities is a fundamental social, economic and business continuity imperative and this is what the conference promoted.”

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Senior professionals attend 2023 conference

On 10 May 2023, senior professionals from the Middle East and Africa security industry convened for a day of high level networking and discussion at the ISJ Leaders in Security Conference.

Many of those who attended the event – which took place at the Grosvenor Hotel, Dubai Marina, UAE – praised the fast-paced conference agenda and the myriad opportunities to directly engage with influential decision-makers from the region and beyond.

Throughout the day, themes such as crisis management and strategic leadership were examined by panellists and presenters working in key roles across the industry, including Adrian Whelan, SVP, Head of Global Security, DHL Express, Noha Hefny, Sr. Consultant Strategic Partnerships & Communications, UN Women and Jennifer Ciolfi, Regional Security Manager, EMEA, Global Security Operations, Snap Inc.

After a period of networking during the opening of the event, delegates took their seats in the conference room and were welcomed by Ian Stokes, CEO, Centurian Media Ltd. (event organiser) and John Cowling, Conference Chair and District Security Manager Middle East & CIS, Caterpillar.

Following these introductions, H.E. Khalifa Ibrahim Al Saleis, CEO & Executive Director, Security Industry Regulatory Agency (SIRA) took to the stage and delivered a thought-provoking interactive presentation.

SIRA – established in 2016 by a decree from H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai – was once again a strategic partner of the conference, with ASIS International – Dubai Chapter and The Security Institute also playing a key supportive role.

Following His Excellency’s Keynote Address, the first panel discussion of the day, ‘Cybersecurity and Information Management in a Changing World’, began – the other discussions that took place were: ‘The Missing Element in Risk Assessment’; ‘The Key to Ensuring Homeland Security’; ‘Training, Technology, People: Are the C-Suite Listening?’; ‘Crisis Management: Communication, Disaster and the Road to Recovery’; ‘Securing Hospitality, Retail and Events to Safeguard Economic Stability’ and ‘Diversifying Workforces to Achieve Business Success’.

With a wide range of panel speakers taking to the stage, both regional perspectives and global experiences were highlighted, with representatives from the likes of SIRA, The Security Institute, Emerald Solutions Group, Fibrenetix, ALPSPN and PerpetuityARC all participating and offering their insights.

As well as the group discussions chaired by John Cowling, Yacine Benamane, Security Manager, Unilever North Africa & Middle East and Howard Leedham MBE, Managing Director, ESID DMCC, fascinating presentations also stole the spotlight, with Leedham himself posing the question: ‘Leadership In Security: A Science or an Instinct?’.

Other presentations included: ‘Fostering a Safe and Secure Drone-Empowered Future’ (Audelia Boker, VP of Marketing, Sentrycs – Platinum Partner for the conference); ‘The Customer Service Keystone’ (Jennifer Ciolfi); ‘Security for the World’s Most International Company – Strategic Partnerships in Global Security’ (Adrian Whelan) and ‘Regional Round-Up – Exploring the Middle East Threat Landscape’ (Matthew Burnard, Director, Control Risks).

Commenting on the success of the event, Nigel Lea, CEO of Sicuro Group, and a panellist at the event, told ISJ: “I’ve been in Dubai 15 years and, certainly, over the last four to five years, this is the best event I have attended – the most relevant people and the most slick event organisation I have seen in a long time.”

Jennifer Ciolfi added: “I had a wonderful time. It was full of exciting panels and interesting speakers.”

Sentrycs’ Audelia Boker also gave us an insight into what the exhibitor experience was like, adding: “We were the Platinum Partners for this year’s ISJ Leaders in Security Conference.

“We were completely blown away by the standard of production, it was absolutely amazing. Great content, great conference – we’re looking forward to next year.”

Jacob Painter, Consultant – Corporate Risk Programmes – EMEA & CIS, Healix, Gold Partner for the conference, said: “It’s been a really good day, with lots of thought-provoking panel discussions. Lots of new connections have been made.”

This was echoed by Robin Gill, Sales Manager, UK, Vicon Industries, Gold Partner, who added: “I was invited to join the panel on Homeland Security and I have had a great day. We have got some great leads, with lots of new friends and old friends met.”