A (NEW) PROFESSIONAL SPEAKS
Bodyguard Careers is pleased to introduce Latonya D. Dupas. A relative newcomer to the business, Dupas is doing everything right to move forward in her pursuit of a long-term, successful Executive Protection career. Her determination and focus is inspiring and serves as a fine example of the kind of self-motivation required to succeed in what is a challenging field. She shares with us how her military and security background has served as a foundation for her career pursuit and what it is to be a female in a male-dominated profession.
BGC: How did you get your start in Executive Protection?
LDD: I have friends who work in security and they would ask me if I ever thought about being in corporate security. I think it was because my demeanor is very matter-of-fact, and straight-forward, and my skill set lends itself to Executive Protection.
My background is working with at-risk youth as both a counselor and an educator, which requires the ability to be an effective communicator; often negotiating or diffusing potentially violent situations. I also have a military background. I’ve always been a self-starter and law enforcement didn’t feel like the right fit. I started to do some research online and wrote letters to key people in the EP business.
BGC: What was the nature of that correspondence?
LDD: I sent emails making specific inquiries as to the opportunities for women in the field. I developed and maintained dialogues, which led to online mentoring. As a result, I developed associations with individuals who have been extremely supportive and informative.
BGC: Where did you get your training?
LDD: My prior military experience of 8 years gave me some creditability. That training allowed me to have some understanding on the importance of security maneuvers. In addition, I attended Elijah Shaw’s Celebrity Training Course, and the BTI (Bodyguard Training Institute) Executive Protection course. I plan to attend Tony Scotti’s defensive driving training course in December to enhance my training.
I’d encourage everyone to take training courses; it teaches you most importantly about whether or not this is a field you truly want to spend time and money getting into! You also have the opportunity to get a sense of what the competition in the field looks like. I was the only female in my classes. Classes only serve as guidelines to what the EP business is all about. Every situation is different.
BGC: What tips might you have for new people trying to break into
the EP business?
LDD: Mr. Austin and the information on the Bodyguard Careers website taught me “do your due diligence.” Basically, do your research, train, read and work. Take the smallest jobs, because they lead to more work. Develop your network. An important thing to understand is that you are always soliciting, always looking for the work opportunities.
In the beginning you shouldn’t turn down any work opportunity. Do a gut check, and make sure you do not compromise your integrity or freedom for the principal or company. Learn your craft and maintain your skills. Lastly, become well versed in the legalities of other states or countries; make yourself an asset to a company, not a liability.
Newcomers need to invest personal time by volunteering and invest money in the development of skills. Make small sacrifices for larger returns.
BGC: How has being a female in this line of work impacted your career?
LDD: It has been very interesting, because I believe I have a new band of brothers, who have embraced me. It is hard to work in any male dominated field. It is important I maintain my professionalism. Lastly, I set specific guidelines for myself, and follow them.
BGC: What do you mean by “guidelines”?
LDD: My guidelines are: maintaining my integrity, Be prepared.
Never assume anything and expect everything. “Do No Harm” in other words do not make a situation bad or worse. Lastly, I remember my responsibility is to myself and the principal. If I don’t take care of myself, I can’t take care of the principal.
BGC: I suppose being a female with a military background has served you?
LDD: Yes. Of course, there are far fewer women than men in the military. I learned how to listen and how to be flexible. I learned that I have a specific skill set that is going to be somewhat different from my male counterparts. I learned there is no arguing when there’s a job to be done; someone is in charge of each operation and that person is taking a huge responsibility and needs to be supported by what I do best.
BGC: So ego has to take a back seat?
LDD: Yes, there is no room for ego on details. My job is to do what I do best, and through the course of experience and time my talents and skills will be seen and hopefully utilized. You learn that you have to prove yourself and that means doing whatever is asked of you.
BGC: Without naming names, what has been your most challenging detail to date?
LDD: There is an expectation that celebrities can be narcissistic, but not the “working man.” That perception is mistaken–I worked a detail for a pharmaceutical company–the common businessman can be more difficult at times than a celebrity client.
BGC: Any on-the-job mistake or valuable lesson you’ve gained that our readers can learn from?
LDD: Never assume, be prepared, and expect the unexpected, always. I understand that being over zealous could potentially create problems. I had one job where I was assigned to work the door for a nightclub. My job was to check credentials and Identification. The club owner was concerned about unauthorized videotaping, photos or interviewing of the performers at the club. Well, as luck would have it, the owner of the club decided to drop by the night I was working. I had never been briefed on who he was, so when this man came to the door and I asked for Identification, he got a little upset at first and said “I’m the owner, isn’t that enough?”
I had spotted him when he first arrived outside the premises, and had made eye contact with him and maintained it, so I had a sense of who he was and the way he carried himself and conducted himself told me he belonged there. I decided to not get overly caught-up in seeking his credentials and stayed calm and professional. I explained that I was just doing what was asked of me and he was totally cool because I treated him with respect and looked and listened to him. He thanked me for being diligent in my job.
I think learning how to work a room or crowd is the most difficult task. You have to be both very aware and yet not over-zealous in your work.
BGC: What is your “dream job” in this field?
LDD: I would love to work for a client with young children. It would put my skills of interacting with kids to great use; and not a lot of men are interested in that kind of detail. I would love to find a position with longevity.
I also think it would be a great experience to work a concert tour for a major entertainer. It would be interesting to discover how the skill set changes, and to experience a different perspective.