Q&A with G4S’s new CEO, Jean Paul Taillon
Jean Paul Taillon replaced former G4S CEO Paul Rivenbark on Dec. 5, 2008. Taillon comes to the job from the telecommunications industry. He is a P.Eng with a Masters in Engineering and a Masters in Business Administration. Before joining G4S, he was President and CEO of Connexim, a Bell Canada-owned managed services and outsourcing company. Prior to that he was senior vice-president of Bell Customer Operations. He has also held several senior executive roles in marketing, sales and operations for AT&T Canada, Motorola and Nortel.
So what does a telco engineer know about the security industry? Taillon recently sat down with Canadian Security to talk about his new role and says the two sectors share similar issues and challenges. He hopes to leverage outsourcing as a model to save Canadian companies money on their security budget.
CS: With a background in telecommunications what was your interest in leading a security company?
Taillon: It’s a great team here. Paul Rivenbark built an organization with great people. My objective is just to modify the strategy slightly and find ways to provide clients with security solutions versus just commodity guarding.
CS: Are there any similarities between running a telecommunications business and running a security company?
Taillon: Yes, there are actually a lot of similarities. Where I worked before in the telco space we ran an outsourcing practice. We took over people and assets and sold it back as a solution for the client and did a lot of integration for the client, so I am looking to do a lot of the same here such as taking over guards in a company. The secret sauce for us is the supervisory capabilities as well as the management and solutions we bring.
CS: What was on your to-do list when you first entered the office of CEO?
Taillon: One of the things we’ve done is aligned the company under one brand across the country and we’re looking at building the revenue and finding ways to transition into more of a solution provider as opposed to just a commodity guard company. We used to have three regions which operated as standalone units — the east, Western Canada, and southwestern Ontario. What we have done is centralized human resources management, product management and technology management to better manage the customer end-to-end.
CS: You have done some other restructuring within G4S. Can you explain what you did and why?
Taillon: One of the things we tried to do was find a way to get closer to the client. We had a retirement earlier this year with chief operations officer and vice-president Kevin Bennett, so we took the opportunity to flatten the organization by one layer and by doing so we now get direct feedback straight from the client back to myself which makes it easier to understand the pulse and run the company. The other thing was the addition of the whole solutions piece and the vision and language across the board has become common.
CS: How do you plan to get that message out to the market that you are more services and technology-oriented company delivering integrated systems integrated?
Taillon: We may undergo a branding campaign early next year. This year it will be just getting professional services people in front of clients and see them one-on-one as much as we can.
CS: There have been a lot of changes in the security industry in the last couple of years in terms of legislation that regulates how they operate and what guard training will be. Do you believe that will improve the image of the industry?
Taillon: I think it will be great for the industry. I think the barrier to entry is very low right now and having properly qualified professionals is crucial. With the new legislation a lot of folks won’t get their licence and I think we will see a better quality guard and perhaps less turnover. Setting standards and benchmarks is important and training is going to be crucial.
CS: Many companies are concerned about what the cost will be to provide this training. What are your thoughts on how you will pass that on to the client?
Taillon: It’s definitely going to be more expensive and in a lot of cases, with the economy the way it is, many companies are going to have to absorb that cost. That’s going to be difficult, but it’s crucial for us to set the proper standards.
CS: These are tough economic times. What are you telling clients who come in asking for you to hold the line on their contracts?
Taillon: In a lot of cases, clients are looking to drive out some of their costs. So, unlike most people, we aren’t just going to cut our pricing — we will look for solutions to drive out their costs and improve their capabilities. That could be technology or adding other solutions to try and improve things.
CS: Are you looking to hire a different kind of person with different skill set now?
Taillon: In fact we’re looking for a new senior vice-president of sales and that person will be very solutions based. We just did an inventory of the talent of all our 7,000 guards as well as the management staff and we’re looking for professionals who can do audits and security checks and write consulting documents and for those we don’t have in-house we will be actively recruiting. The time is great right now for that — there is a lot of great talent on the street and a lot of solutions-type individuals looking to come to companies such as G4S.
CS: Are you recruiting people with a more technical background?
Taillon: It’s a combination. Clients deserve a level of professionalism and so we’re trying to bring in project management individuals and technology people who can integrate technology with guarding. We have a strong technology division and we’ve been adding a few more services and solutions-type products.
CS: There is a lot of competition in this market. How do you plan to compete and capture greater market share?
Taillon: I think we will focus on the verticals we’re good at such as health care, logistics, the condo market. We’re also offering professional services such as security audits and analysis, security outsourcing and within that there will be screening and visitor management which is a great opportunity for us to combine software and hardware and a change to enhance the guarding component.