Andrej Podvršič, Chief Security Officer of Chemours Company, previous Chief Security Director of DuPont de Nemours International Sarl Corporation for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

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At the moment you are the only Slovenian who managed to reach such a high and important position abroad in the field of international corporate security. How did you succeed to come to DuPont de Nemours International Sarl Corporation and later to Chemours Company?

After my return from FBI NA Academy I organized a number of jointly expert training sessions with FBI together with Mr Alan Ringgold. He was in charge of international cooperation (among other posts he had spent 12 years in Europe as Legat Attache) and he started working for DuPont de Nemours International Sarl in Geneva after his retirement. In 2003 he decided to definitely retire from his working career and was looking for a successor. He called me and I have to say that at the time I really did not have the real insight into what corporate security is all about (and to be honest – I am still learning!). After that conversation I started learning about it and I somehow liked the whole idea, as I have always been searching for new challenges. I talked about it with my wife and we agreed that it was worth a try as after 21 years as a civil servant I was ‘ripe’ for a career change. Of course, it was just the beginning, as there were quite a few other good candidates and the whole procedure took about six months. On June 3rd, 2003 I had the final six interviews together with the three others who made to the final round. By the end of the very same day my future manager told me that I was to get the position. Much later I spoke to all the interviewers who told me that, regardless of my lack of world corporate experiences, my Europe and USA police networking and experience convinced them to choose me. My positive attitude and personal energy, so they said, made an important impact.

You also were the Consul General of the Republic of Slovenia in the USA and the Director General of Slovenian police. How helpful do you find that experience together with your experience at various police positions in your present job?

There is no doubt that all the experience I gathered while holding various leading positions are helpful in my present job. We should know that working with people is the most demanding job and it goes for corporative world as well. The most successful work recipe is a kind of a cocktail mixed with successful communication and negotiation skills based on the power of arguments and deep understanding of business complexity. I have to point out that having experience only is never enough and that the position of a corporate manager demands permanent learning and, of course, continuous dialogue and exchange of experience with my counterparts. Only then we can successfully control and manage corporate risks.

Your job takes you to different continents which involves constant travelling, as you are in charge of Europe, Middle East and Africa. What is your working schedule like?

When I changed the company my responsibilities changed as well. My team and I are responsible for our corporation security around the world. My day usually starts around 6 am, I have my morning coffee and go through the daily world news. When I am travelling, it starts in a gym, because business trip schedules are packed and there would be no time for recreation. I am in the office around 7 where I first Do the List (check the activities) I have prepared the previous evening. As the phone conferences do not start before 9 am (Asia being the only exception) when most Europe gets into motion, I have about two peaceful hours to focus on projects and more complex tasks. Then the phone calls and conferences start and go till the lunch time when I take about an hour break. USA wakes up around 2 pm and my attention is then directed towards America and solving the problems across the Atlantic. I have to point out that I would never be able to manage the workload without my excellent team and I have been more than happy and privileged to be able to work with them.

Does your corporation also employ young security stuff, people at the beginning of their careers in this field or, shall I put it differently, how do you recruit corporate security staff?

My answer is yes, based on my experience with DuPont employment procedure. It is clear that there are two paths, the established one, when we employ people from security areas (military, police, intelligence…) and other, when we internally invest into potential expert staff who could then in time take over leading positions. With establishing the postgraduate programme, e.g. GEA College, we could get theoretically well-formed staff, whose knowledge could then be additionally upgraded under a careful supervision to become a true risk managers. We have to be aware that successful managing security risks does not comprise “classic” risks only, but it is substantially more, as only the company that regards all potential risk holistically, could be successful.

Could you share with us where do you see yourself in 5 years? Would you still be in the security area and/or will you return to Slovenia?

It’s quite risky to plan for the next 5 years as the only certainty in our lives are changes. I think that the only thing I am going to plan is the last chapter of my professional life, and it is what to do after I retire. I think I already have several good ideas and I really intend to remain active and be of use to our society.

What do you think about our portal varensvet.si which is dedicated to promote safety, security and protection in every segment of life and in the same time provides support to young, future security staff to get various experiences in the security areas?

It is an excellent idea and we should all make utmost efforts to make it come alive and help raise security culture and better understanding of it. Education for safety starts at home, continues in kinder-gardens, schools and later at workplace. I can see the bigger picture as well, as it can help spread the image of Slovenia as one of the safest countries in the world, which then could attract international organisations and business to move here. The Slovenian Government should also acknowledge it and give projects like this one their full support.

 

 

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