Canadian Security Magazine

MacAlister leaving public sector for Paladin Security

Jennifer Brown   

News Public Sector

Don MacAlister has announced he is leaving Fraser Health after more than three decades working in public service to take on the role of Vice-President, health care at Paladin Security.

“I’ve had a long and very satisfying career in the public sector — more than 30 years. This opportunity with Paladin came along and (Paladin President) Ashley (Cooper) has the same focus I do, which is to professionalize the security industry in this country,” says MacAlister who will retire at the end of June from his role as Executive Director of Lower Mainland Integrated Protection Services for the Fraser Health, Vancouver Coastal Health, Providence Health Care and Provincial Health Services Authority.

“For me, the synergy is terrific in terms of timing. I’ve done all I can do on the public side and the opportunity to share my skills and learn new skills Canada-wide with Paladin is really coming at a great time in my life.”

MacAlister got his start in the security industry at the age of 21 working in a maximum-security prison. He then moved on to the University of B.C. He has spent two decades in health care. Last fall MacAlister was chosen by the Canadian Security Editorial Advisory Board as the 2010 Security Director of the Year.

He was approached earlier this year by Ashley Cooper of Paladin Security to join the company as vice-president of health care with the Burnaby, B.C.-based security firm.

“Someone with Don’s skill set and expertise certainly brings an incredible amount of potential to our company that we didn’t have before. It’s really a qualitative issue — it’s about being able to provide a better quality service and better experience for end-users, customers and training to our staff, which will allow us to further differentiate ourselves from our competitors,” says Cooper.

For MacAlister, the jump from public sector to private sector at this point in his career poses an interesting challenge. He says it will allow him to now bring everything he’s learned on the end-user side to the customer experience.

“I’ve had a terrific career in health care, especially in the last 10 years. I think Paladin has the best health care security program in the country and my challenge is to work with the team here and help them develop an even better program,” he says.

Cooper says MacAlister’s role will be to help develop policies and procedures from best practices and apply them to the health care organizations Paladin is working with.

“We’ve managed to grow our company across the country quite substantially over the last number of years and one particular area of success for us has been health care security. In our minds it’s the most challenging niche market there is and we’ve done a good job at developing specialized programs for that market. Over the years that’s manifested itself into some significant roles. The Alberta Health Services contract is one example as well as some other contracts we’ve had come our way over the years,” says Cooper. “We think we’re doing a pretty good job right now but we know there’s always room for additional improvement. What we want to do is have Don leverage one of our core competencies and create a series of best practices to continue to lead the industry and refine our service delivery model so every health care region will have the exact same type of service.”

Cooper says Paladin has directors of health care security in place in different provinces across the country, but MacAlister’s role will be to develop the company’s policies across the company so that it is leveraging what it is already doing in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario and taking it to other markets. However, it will not be a business development role.

“Don will be introducing himself and our services to some potentially new customers, but sales is not going to be the focus of the role,” says Cooper who says while Paladin is known for health care largely in the West and Ontario, his goal is to expand the industry’s knowledge of Paladin as a significant player in all sectors.

“We have a handful of key verticals in our company and what we’ve tried to do as part of our strategy is identify key ingredients that have made them successful. On the health care side there’s policy and procedure and training and Don brings a tonne of value to that area, but Paladin is not just a health care security provider. We are one of the largest providers of security to commercial space in Western Canada and to the campus environment across the country as well as oil and gas in the West. We have a number of verticals and each one has its own strategies and challenges,” he says.

MacAlister says he is looking forward to meeting people and seeing programs at organizations across the country and Cooper feels MacAlister will be a good fit with the Paladin culture.

“I’ve known him for 20 years. I know a lot about his character and principled approach and he’s the right fit for our organization. He’s the kind of guy who is happy to roll his sleeves up and get involved,” says Cooper. “We don’t want or need a figure head, we want a guy who is going to come in and make our company a better place.”

Fraser Health is currently conducting a search to find a replacement for MacAlister. The closing date for applications is April 8.

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