Company puts heads together

Surely the Perth market can’t sustain a business offering training in bomb threat procedures, kidnap survival training and anti-piracy procedures?

“We’ve been around for two years and our business is growing,” responds David Harper.

“There are healthy opportunities throughout Australia but 90 per cent of our business is sourced overseas. ”

Mr Harper is one of four former elite military officers who set up West Perth-based Osprey and Asset Management (OAM) – a company aiming for national and global growth with its unique brand of risk management.

Partners Mr Harper, Peter Towndrow, Bob Hunter and John Gartner offer 90 years of collective expertise in managing highly risky endeavours in military and law enforcement in Australia, throughout the Asia-Pacific, Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

This experience is now deployed for the physical protection of mine sites throughout Asia, security services in Australia and Asia, project logistics management services - in particular for remote locations - emergency training and supervision, corporate investigations and personal security briefings, and preparatory training for staff transferred overseas

Their collective security experience ranges from protecting Australia’s A list, a member of Brunei’s Royal family, Australian Embassy staff in Cambodia, a Saudi Sheik, British Royalty, our Governor General and visiting heads of states.

Some 50 associates throughout Asia and Australia, many of them also former Special Air Services soldiers, are sourced for OAM projects.

But any notions that personnel are gun-toting former soldiers are quickly debunked after meeting the partners who advocate a “softly, softly”, more cerebral approach which usually renders force unnecessary.

The partners are multi-lingual, hold degrees and diplomas in management, military studies, survival and rescue management, business and personnel and resource management.

Their corporate mission is guided by three principles – identify the threat, reduce the risk and protect the asset.

Information gathering forms a major part of activities.

Time spent on reconnaissance is time well spent, says Mr Harper.

Every “what if” should be explored.

Associations throughout the Asia-Pacific, Africa and Papua New Guinea are used to gather information on the political, cultural, economic, social and environmental risks associated with doing business in a given location.

OAM conducts workshops for staff being sent to potential hot spots. Topics covered include personal and security guidelines, vehicle and travel security, kidnap survival training and bomb threat procedures.

“We’re not saying we are a panacea. But people should be prepared,” Mr Harper said.

“For example, you may get someone who has worked in Papua New Guinea who describes themselves as an old hand.

“But they may never have had the hard experience of coping under the sorts of threats we are talking about.”

OAM’s experience of South East Asia’s geography, political environ-ment and culture has been used to devise an anti-piracy service for the commercial shipping industry and pleasure craft owners.

The London Institute of Underwriters has been asked to consider how an insurance risk can be minimised through use of a smart ship monitoring system and anti-piracy training.

Anti-piracy training focuses on using technology, on-board watch systems and an awareness of pirates habits to evade attacks which double in the Asian region each year.

The monitoring system can be programmed to inform the shipowner, the insurer, cargo-owner and law enforcement authorities when a vessel either stops, or diverts from its intended course.

“In the event of an attack we suggest complying to prevent physical injury.

“It’s important not to go pressing any buttons in what is potentially a very volatile situation.”

Mr Harper says risk management is equally as important for companies sending staff to “low risk zones.”

It is advisable to explore the range of social, cultural and psychological stresses the expatriate and their family will be exposed to.

Unprepared employees are often traumatised and end up resenting their employer.

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