Michelle Bailey – Profile of a Security Industry Champion
We learn more about the Managing Director of Active Response Security Services, Michelle Bailey, taking a look at her recent successes and achievements as a Security Industry Champion.
In her own words, Michelle Bailey describes herself as “Barnsley, born and bred” and it’s clear she is proud of her Yorkshire roots. The striking thing when you talk to her is that she is very self – effacing, being more comfortable giving credit to others. It’s a blend of confidence and shyness that reveals an easy going style that makes her very likeable – and she has impeccably good manners. Her Award Winning company Active Response Security Services is the product of a strong team ethic that runs through her veins.
She has recently been shortlisted as a Finalist in the Women in Security UK Awards and told us:
“I am an ordinary but hard working Professional who cares about the needs of others. I was momentarily ‘shell shocked’ but hugely proud to hear I had been shortlisted by my peers whose opinions I hold dear. I love my Industry. It’s challenging but fulfilling”.
To help us get to know Michelle a little better we posed some questions for her:
What are your recollections of the Barnsley you grew up in?
As a Mining town Barnsley had its fair share of challenges, but I learned my community spirit from seeing how things worked best when everyone looked out for their neighbour. Twenty coaches would take children to the seaside each year and the excitement began when you got your £5 spending money, a bottle of pop and a packet of crisps. Youth Clubs were where you spent time with your mates. For fifty pence you got to bake, run and have a disco. It was two pence to get on a bus. Saturday saw me down at the vinyl record shop. Remember those? Baking or a jar of jam was shared in our street. If it snowed, and in those days it did, you had to walk to school. If there was no heating at school you got told to put your coat on and carry on. A lot of people look to leave their hometown but I am a “Barnsley Lass” and super proud to have my business here.
What important influence did your Parents have on your life?
Mining was inevitably where my Dad would be at an early age. My Mum was a cleaner and worked behind the bar at a working men’s club. They were hard working and very loving. There was no central heating but a roaring fire created a very homely feel. My Sister and I were surrounded by the kind of love that guides you and picks you up when you fall. Even today, that still exists. Parenting is for life it seems! My Dad is my best friend and my Mum knows me better than I know myself. They instilled in me to be myself because that would attract like minded people that would become friends for life. They gave me the structure to work hard, care about others and be grateful for my blessings. I learned that a “treat” was something you saved for.
What were your Aspirations at School?
In all honesty school was not my favourite place. I struggled and you develop a reluctance to be there. My Mum of course soon sensed it and spent hours with me, helping me to pronounce words properly and to rebuild my confidence in what I could achieve. It made a lasting impression that to learn, you need a patient teacher who cares about your future. It has proved invaluable in reminding me that my staff deserves this quality from me too. I spent all my time looking forward to leaving and earning a living.
What did you do when you left full time education?
I joined a Youth Training Scheme and worked in offices as my “job experience”. I earned £28.50 a week paid £10 board to my mum and still had some left over to go out. It taught me the foundations of a working life and the environment I would need to cope with. Little did I know that my future was In Security.
How did you first begin your relationship with Active Response?
I have been privileged to work in the Security Industry for over twenty years and I have grown to love it. Given that it was a male dominated Industry I was doing something unusual and I liked the idea of that. My strength of feeling was that customers wanted a bespoke approach to their needs. Imagine the responsibility of holding the house keys of a neighbour when they go on holiday and then magnify the responsibility of doing it for a business! The responsibility is never lost on me and we have ingrained it in our staff.
How did you come to own the Company?
Using what I learned, I set up Active Response in 2006. I knew if I was going to succeed I would need the highest quality team around me. Getting the right blend of talents has led us to great success. Our efforts have been rewarded with several Awards and recognition within our Industry that reflects our team ethic. What makes me especially happy is that companies who started the journey with us are still using our services today.
What is your Business Philosophy?
To achieve any less than my very best is not acceptable to me. I push myself to improve every day. You never achieve success on your own of course, and I want to share success with those around me. I invest a lot of “Me” in my staff and my customers because they matter to me. I love what I do. It provides my essential needs, but in my business I am building a legacy for the future where my loyal team can continue what we set out to achieve. I try to be clear about separating my “needs” from my “wants”. Needs are essential things that allow me to achieve my goals and keep me focused. I am driven by a desire to improve everything, but governed by the good old common sense my parents gave me that stops me from thinking too much of myself and getting sidetracked.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
We all have limitations and mine are many. 2016 has pushed me to move my boundaries to achieve more. As a leader I recognise I cannot ask others to commit more than I do and I am very focused on having a “can do” mentality. I encourage working on solutions rather than lingering on problems. Most things can be improved. I work long hours but if I sent a note to myself it would be to manage the time better. Someone recently said that if there was an eight day week I would just fill the additional day with more work. It’s true of course, so occasionally I need to step back to see where I am in order to keep focused on our destination. A Roadmap is very helpful on any journey but it’s no use if you don’t refer to it. I think it’s fair to say my strengths are Enthusiasm, Trustworthiness, Creativity, Discipline, Respect, Determination, Dedication and Honesty. In contrast I need to work on Patience with myself and others, delegating more and understanding that it’s not possible to please everyone.
What do you look for in the people you employ?
I like to think I provide opportunities. I set high standards but for those who reach out to be the best they can, we provide the environment that will support their development and enable them to flourish. It’s a cliché I know, but it’s true that we try to create a sense of family. We work together and learn together. I have to take the key decisions but I need members of staff that are willing to contribute their thoughts. It’s essential they care about others. They also need to be teachable. I believe that the best method of helping people to learn is to get them to think. It’s a vital quality in the Security Industry.
What is your most satisfying success?
I measure my greatest success by what is achieved as a team. When we gain a new contract it’s exciting but to retain it and build a strong partnership long term is the most satisfying aspect of what we do. Our success is built on continually seeking to improve and we have always encouraged feedback that helps us see the reality of our progress. We never compromise high standards and to see this approach in everything we do is the realisation of what I set out to achieve.
On a personal level, addressing an audience of dignitaries and influential people at the launch of the Active Response BeeSafe campaign is something I will always cherish. My nerves were “jangling” but my huge respect for these guests combined with their huge support and my belief in Safeguarding Children made me feel both humbled and proud. Being part of something of value to others was a privilege I will never forget.
What are the challenges acing the Security Industry and what changes might you encourage?
The Security Industry is more highly regulated these days to enable a customer to make a best choice. We have come a long way but I would like to see public perception of what we do improve. In years gone by our Industry PR was poor. We take our role as Ambassadors very seriously and encourage colleagues in other areas to be visible to the public in a very positive way. We are an important part of the community and we take our role very seriously. Attracting the best staff is vital and I hope to visit schools in the future to promote a career in security.
We have not reached a point where all Security Companies are licensed and for me this should be mandatory. Of equal importance is that a company should be assessed to BSI standards. These types of standards have enabled us to score in the top five per cent of Approved Contractors. External assessment is vital to maintain a high reputation for our Industry. It’s a protection and guide for everyone.
How do you see the future of Active Response?
We currently employ 140 people but we see this increasing dramatically, providing more opportunities for people to fulfil their potential in life. We need to ensure that people know we have a national presence to meet their needs and exactly what our wide range of services includes. 2016 began a huge step change for us. We have been showing the strengths of the Active Response Brand and the relevance of our support in a much more visible way. When we began it felt like we had stepped out of our comfort zone but it has invigorated us and we have grown on so many levels.
If you could have dinner with anyone in history who would it be and why?
Like so many of my generation I had huge respect for Diana Spencer (Princess). Part of her charm was that she was very flawed as we all are. I can identify with her shyness and the challenges of being thrust into a public arena. She had a huge heart and a selfless approach to others. She was clearly a complex Woman with great talents. My philosophy is that both Men and Women are equally talented but talent needs opportunity. Diana found her stage and achieved so much for others. I try to provide opportunity for people to release their talents. It creates a positive legacy. Diana Inspired people to follow their dreams. Her philosophy was summed up as “Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you”. The impact she created is its own evidence that she really believed this.
It’s easy to see from her balanced and inclusive approach to business that continued success is assured for Michelle. If that is the case many others will benefit too. We wish her continued success.