Q&A With Gabriel Ikreni, Site Security Manager
Now in its third year, Thank Your Security Officer Day is Corps Security’s annual celebration of front-line security professionals.
As part of a day of celebration, we spent five minutes talking to Gabriel Ikreni, site security manager at Imperial Brands’ global HQ in Bristol, about what being a security professional means to him.
When did you join Corps and what does your current role involve? I joined Corps and started my current role at Imperial Brands in November 2008. I work with a great team of officers and we have an exceptionally strong relationship with our client. The whole facilities-security team is like a family here.
My role involves the day-to-day managing of the security team, making sure procedures are up to date, creating training material and user guides for the site, putting together reports for the client, and assisting the wider facilities management team with a variety of tasks. For example, I created an Emergency Response Pack which received great feedback from the head of facilities who shared it with his team at other Imperial sites.
Can you tell us a little about your career background? What was your first job? I started my security career as a security officer in January 2000. Over the years I have worked my way up to site supervisor and shift/ site manager roles working for organisations as diverse as Heineken Brewery, the US Embassy, Dell Business Centre, DHL Supply Chain, Harvey Nichols and Cabot Circus. I have worked across the manufacturing, government, corporate and retail sectors.
What’s been your most memorable moment in security? There have been quite a few! At Heineken Brewery I had to extinguish a fire in the factory kitchen. While working at the US Embassy, I was part of the Diplomatic Security involved in the Bush-Putin summit held in Slovakia in 2005 which was an unforgettable experience. At Harvey Nichols, where I was security supervisor, I was involved with their fashion shows – in an operational role, not as a model!
However, two moments stand out. Both happened while working at Cabot Circus in Bristol. I helped a distressed lady who had been sexually assaulted. I managed to give a very clear description of her attacker and tracked down his movements via CCTV. He was shortly arrested by the Police and later sentenced to prison time. Another time I helped a young female who was on the edge of the top level of the car park. She was saved and taken away with Police officers so she could receive the appropriate help.
If you weren’t in security, what would you be doing as a career? I had contemplated joining the professional army. I served in the Slovak Army when we had compulsory military service. Now I could see myself working within a facilities team involved with the running of a building.
What’s your favourite thing about your job? Definitely working with people. I am a social person and enjoy the buzz of interacting with many people with various ethnic and cultural backgrounds. This is a global head office so I can often use my language skills. I speak fluent Slovak, Hungarian, Czech, intermediate German and am slowly working on my Spanish.
What are the main challenges you face in your daily role? Well the shifts can be quite long! On a more serious note, we can have a major technical fault, first aid incident or a fire alarm situation at any moment. You have to constantly think on your feet. We had some in the past and we dealt with each situation promptly and professionally.
This pandemic has been a significant challenge for everyone across the globe and we have had to adjust our operations accordingly. We have become more involved with various operational jobs where Imperial staff were requested to isolate or work from home.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? Slovakia, to see my family and childhood friends. And secondly to Portugal. Before Covid I often used to fly out for a bargain weekend to Portugal. I love that country – the ocean, the sun, the never-ending sandy beaches, the friendly local people and the great cuisine. I hope to retire there one day.