For more than twenty-five years British born Jacquieline Davis survived as one of the top operators in a male-dominated profession – the secretive, often dangerous world of covert operations. After leaving the police force she worked as a bodyguard, where her training – which included combat training – and a willingness to risk everything for “the client”, led her into increasingly dangerous operations, so much so that she became recognized as “The World’s Top Female Bodyguard”.
Her book, The Circuit is a fascinating account of one woman’s amazing experiences involving the dangerous job of rescuing children and adults around the world to the more glittering world of guarding well-known celebrities such as Diana Ross, Liza Minnelli and J.K. Rowling. Available from amazon.com or www. jacquiedavis.com
BGC: How did you get started in the Executive Protection Field?
Jacquieline Davis: Back in the 1970s, police pay was very poor and everybody moonlighted to earn more money. Working as a bodyguard was one of those jobs we were asked to do. Our Pay as a bodyguard was £30 per day for 12 hours. It was a fortune to us as police take-home pay was about £120 per month ($240 dollars at today’s rate). I was then asked by an agency if I would like to train as a Bodyguard, I said yes and the rest is history.
BGC: Who are your typical clients? Celebrities? Executives?
Jacquieline Davis: Most of my clients are Executives, I shy away from the pop bands and singers, they have minders, not Bodyguards.
BGC: What is a “minder?”
Jacquieline Davis: A minder is like a doorman–all brawn and no brains and no training.
BGC: Has the demand for female bodyguards/CPOs increased, or have women been able to break “the glass ceiling” and so are finding success in this type of work?
Jacquieline Davis: The work has always been open to women but very few applied to do the job, I don’t think many women knew it existed. It will always be a man’s world and I have no problem with that, men work just as well on teams for me as females.
BGC: What advice do you have for new people (particularly women) who are interested in getting into this field?
Jacquieline Davis: Get a basic sense of discipline and fitness and be prepared to learn new skills that may seem alien to you at the moment. Do not expect to do a CP course (close protection) and them automatically get a job. You may have to send out lots of CV’s (resumes) before someone calls you. Leave your feminist views at home. Be as good as you can be but accept that women are a minority in this industry,
BGC: What do you think are some of the biggest misconceptions about the bodyguard/EPS field?
Jacquieline Davis: People think we lead a glamorous life and although we do travel in private jets and stay in five-star hotels–after 12 to 16 hours of thinking on your feet–believe me, it is not glamorous.
BGC: While protecting a client, what has been the most dangerous or challenging situation you’ve had to handle?
Jacquieline Davis: I had a client whose family had been killed and a hit had been put out on him and his surviving 4-year-old daughter. I was brought in to guard them. The people after him were foreign government agents so we had to move around the world often staying in hotels or safe houses for a couple of nights before moving on, not easy when you have a four-year-old asking “why?” all the time.
BGC: Are there any interesting or unusual differences you’ve noticed between EP work in the United Kingdom and in the United States? Are the expectations different? Are there more opportunities for women in Europe?
Jacquieline Davis: I have to say–having recently opened an office in Los Angeles–I am shocked by the lack of training American bodyguards have. In the UK to work as a Bodyguard you have to complete a 150-hour course then take an exam and be licensed by a government department. I shall now be running CP/EP courses in the USA to bring any Americans that want to work for me up to European standards. They will then also be eligible to apply for a British SIA license and work in Europe.
There is a lack of female bodyguards in the USA and we are addressing this issue. I will be conducting a lecture tour of the West Coast to talk to female groups about security work and how they can get into it. I did this on the East coast a few years ago and I now have a few female Bodyguards in that area. For more information, visit www.greymans.com. I am the director of Protective
Services, which means I deal with the clients, put EP teams together and often act as Team Leader. I am also a qualified Instructor in Executive Protection and Surveillance.
BGC: Can you share both your favorite and least favorite aspects of working in Executive Protection (we really want to help new people to fully grasp what this work is about!)
Jacquieline Davis: My favorite aspect is the travel and meeting people who are usually at the top of their field, and making friends for life. After all, your life depends on your teammates’ actions. My least favorite aspect is the long hours. Working with an ungrateful or non-cooperative client, or a client who has employed you as an expert but then proceeds to tell you how to do your job, disregards your advice and then gets into either an accident or worse…just look at what happened to Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed, when Fayed senior ignored the advice of the bodyguards. Also, working within the constraints of a tight budget that stretches the team thin.
Great Article. We need to see more women breaking into male donimated fields! YOU are a ground breaking inspiration! Would love to share one of my other compaies with you http://www.thewomenofglobalchange.com ! And to have you be a part also be nominated for a woman of global change award!!! Keep up the great leading lady work sister!
I liked the article, however disagree with her comment that celebrities use “minders”. All brawn and no brain. I work mostly with celebrities, yet have great training with military experience, US Army Rangers, with Recon experience in live combat situations, providing protection to military officers on the battle lines, and providing TOC security in combat zones. Also trained in Soviet Hand to Hand Combat (Spetnaz soldier, and these guys are nuts).
As a civilian, I have attended many training, as well self train daily, I stay sharp always. Even when off duty, I train as if everything I do, scenerios run through my head. I never want to have to tell a family I failed. I learned that lesson in the military years ago. As far as brawn. I am over 50 now, not much brawn, and at 6 ft and 185 lbs, never has been. One thing for sure, my clients are safe, feel safe, and very happy with the overall experience of my services. I may be a little slower, but learned many things over the years. Stay safe all.
This is one of my favorite reads on BGC. She seems like a really fascinating woman. If I were a female who wanted to break into this business, I’d be sure to contact her and attend her workshop!
Prof. L.C. Holifield
Excellent Interview!!! The EP field needs more women like Jacquieline Davis. The EP field is wide open for serious females. Maybe this article will help bring more females into the business. Great Article!!