Unitrust employee Jefferson Geronimo talks about his background and experience retraining to become a security professional.
Tell us a little about your background, and what lead you to a career in security
JG: When the pandemic hit in the first year I was working for Kensington & Chelsea Council. I was employed in the HR and learning and development department and my role was to support the retraining of police offers, and teachers, generally helping to brush up skills for people in the borough.
Prior to this, I had been working in hotels since the age of 14. I love the hotel industry and I have worked in almost every department - you name it from the restaurant to housekeeping and after that, I went to the front of house. Most of my experience today comes from there, I have always had friends and family in the industry and learned from the bottom up. My first role was as a concierge before becoming a receptionist and then a duty manager. Being in hotels is very customer service orientated so that skill is very transferable into what I am now.
Like many people, I was made redundant during the pandemic and although I tried to get back into the hotel industry it was very difficult. So, it became a time of reflection for me and as I have always enjoyed learning I decided to retrain and since I lived near Westminster College I found out it offered a range of courses and that is what ultimately drove my decision to retrain to security.
Tell me about the course at Westminster College.
JG: The course was quite extensive. A lot of it was to do with customer service as well as security specific information. It gave a brief introduction into everyone about a customer service role, what to expect and we had literacy tests to pass as well as the SIA training which was done by two instructors.
It was very interesting. One of the many things they told us was the SIA were trying to remove the stereotype that people have of security guards, which is of people who stand with their arms crossed and don’t speak to anyone. They were trying to upskill everyone to ensure the whole industry upped its game. The training and lessons were very good and in depth and detailed. It involved a lot of writing and physical intervention, for example it is important to learn how to handle people properly if you are a door person and corporate and retail.
I enjoy the challenge of finding out new things and close protection, which is a different course, is something that does interest me for the future.
When did you first find out about Unitrust?
JG: After graduation. Unitrust presented at the college and introduced the company, its history, the aims and how they are striving to raise the bar of security officers. What was really appealing was they emphasised the opportunity for progression within the company. After the presentation there was a chance for us the students to have an interview. It was quite nerve wracking as it was conducted a bit like speed dating where you had a quick 10 minute initial interview for those who wanted to do it. I had an interview with the HR director and made a good impression and from there I formally applied for a role. Things moved quite fast even with having to get the SIA license in place, once the checks were in place I had an interview for an entry level CSO role quite quickly.
Unitrust was very accommodating and took into account that as a father of four it was important to me to find the right work patterns as I was hoping to find a weekday role. Sure enough I was pointed in the right direction within the company to find the right role and site that would work for me.
I joined the company in January 2023 as front of house officer and stayed in that role to learn the role properly and understand what is needed before moving in Mid February to a supervisor role. As a supervisor I am helping the team with their day-to-day duties, making sure our rotas are assigned to everyone and basically making sure that our day to day tasks run smoothly. I am also dealing with some of the tenants in the building, who contact me with anything they need, access issues, security issues.
At the site I work on there are five security officers plus myself and a manager, so seven in total looking after this site. We plan to move everyone around the building to different stations every 30 mins which keeps us our toes, ensuring everything is fresh and we keep our minds alert.
Do you have a career progression plan?
JG: Yes I do. As I am still fairly new there is still so much for me to learn not only with the security aspects although I am comfortable with the customer service aspect I am still learning about the building. Progression wise staying as a supervisor for a while is ideal for me to learn properly and then maybe have opportunities to go to another site and learn something different. If I can go all the way then I would love to.
Describe the work ethic at Unitrust?
JG: Unitrust’s work ethic is very professional and I like the strictness of that and that as employees we have rules to follow that make sure we go above the bar and are all working on the same page.
What makes Unitrust a good place to work?
JG: I like the fact that it is such an open door policy. We can talk to anyone about any concerns and issues and it is nice that everyone knows everyone. It is a family oriented business and it does give off that vibe. No one is left out of the loop and working in one big bubble. Family values, delivering as a big business. It is a genuine company.
One of the main points of interest is they do not work on zero hours contract because Unitrust guarantees a number of shifts a month and that is a big selling point as that gives you stability and really appealing to a lot of people.