6 habits of a successful 'head of risk'

By Sam Mednick 13 June 2017

A soldier communicates with an approaching vehicle during a visit by a commission to Kidal, northern Mali. Photo by: Blagoje Grujic / U.N.

They work in a sector of the international development community that likes to remain under the radar. Yet they serve as a lifeline for thousands of humanitarians who risk their lives on a daily basis.

They are the employees of security firms — the people who act as the eyes and ears on the ground, protecting the aid organizations with which they work.

“Security is a state of mind,” said Andrew Firth, head of risk for WS Insight, one of South Sudan’s leading security companies. “NGOs can’t operate behind physical barriers and it’s our job to enable them to do their jobs.”

The key to being a leader in the industry, Firth said, is to understand causality: “Focus on the ‘why’ of what happened,” he said. “Not only the what.”

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About the author

Sam mednick profile
Sam Mednick

Sam is a freelance journalist based in South Sudan. Over the past 12 years she’s reported on humanitarian, human interest and conflict stories from around the world. Sam’s work has taken her to the Middle East, Africa, Asia, South America and Europe, writing for VICE, the Associated Press, Devex, Barcelona Metropolitan and iPolitics among others. Sam also produces and hosts the Happy Melly Podcast, interviewing authors, speakers and thought leaders about what it takes to live productive and fulfilling lives.


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