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City Group Security interview Security Officer of Distinction Award winner Onkar Hothi

May 30, 2024

Onkar Hothi, a dedicated security professional working for City Group Security on the Midland Heart contract in Sandwell, recently won the Security Officer of Distinction Award at the prestigious ACS Pacesetters Awards. With a profound dedication to his work and a deep commitment to supporting those around him, Onkar’s journey in the security industry has been inspirational.

In his role at Midland Heart, Onkar has demonstrated exceptional security skills and a remarkable degree of emotional intelligence. He emphasises the importance of supporting residents in social housing, understanding their needs, and providing a safe and secure environment for them to thrive. Through his empathetic approach, Onkar has built strong bonds of trust with those he interacts with, making a significant difference in their lives.

When asked about his Manager, Nicola Hepburn, who nominated him for the award, Onkar expressed his gratitude for her continuous support. He highlighted her caring nature and the support she provided, especially during challenging times in his personal life. The relationship between Onkar and his manager transcends professional boundaries, reflecting a genuine concern for his well-being. Nicola Hepburn fosters lasting relationships to empower her team of security professionals to be exceptional daily.

Reflecting on his experience at the ACS Pacesetters lunch, Onkar described it as a prestigious event that filled him with excitement and nerves. Being recognised alongside other security professionals further solidified his pride in the industry and their impact on ensuring safety and security. It was a moment of validation for Onkar, acknowledging the significance of his contributions to the field.

The recognition and award meant a great deal to Onkar, as it validated his efforts and highlighted the crucial role of security officers in society. His dedication to helping others and ensuring their safety showcases his character and commitment to his profession. Sharing this achievement with his wife, Layla, and his robust support system added a layer of joy to the accomplishment.

As Onkar reflects on his journey in the security industry, he highlights the dynamic nature of the job and the diverse challenges it presents. Every day brings new experiences and opportunities to positively impact people’s lives, whether by providing a listening ear or responding to emergencies with professionalism and tact. His deep understanding of human behaviour and his role as a guardian angel further exemplify his dedication to the well-being of those around him.

Onkar Hothi’s story reveals the true essence of a security professional—compassionate, vigilant, and committed to making a difference. As he continues his path, his unwavering dedication and positive impact will continue to inspire those around him and shape the future of the security industry.

On asking Onkar Hothi several questions to bring this article to life in his own words, he brings the value and recognition of what recognition and winning an award mean. Onkar Hothi, a security professional, Said,

What did it feel like to be nominated by your Manager, Nicola Hepburn?

When Nicola rang to inform me, I was grateful and thanked her for the recognition. Nicky is so supportive of my career and very aware of the day-to-day challenges I am currently having with my Mum’s illness. I am so lucky to have Nicky as my manager. She is very caring and always there to support me, even 24/7. When Nicky read the incident report, she contacted me immediately, was very supportive, and referenced my welfare and that of the rest of the team. To work for a manager with your Well-being at the heart of a conversation empowers me both at work and personally.

What were your thoughts when invited to the ACS Pacesetters lunch?

I was so excited and nervous as this is such a prestigious event. I researched it and realised it was an honour to attend. This was a very prestigious day, and it is an honour to be nominated alongside my security colleagues in the industry. At lunch, I was touched by the stories that made me reflect on the role of security and how we impact lives. After hearing about the incident management and customer service they delivered, I was proud to stand alongside the 11 other winners I was personally in awe of. I feel pleased to work in the security industry and receive this recognition.

How did winning and being recognised for your achievements feel?

I was nervous and so happy, trying to keep it together; we are the first point of contact, and sometimes it is overlooked.  The person I supported in this incident who supported this nomination has thanked me personally on several occasions, and in all honesty, we saved his life. When responding to this incident, I had no idea what the end situation would have been. We had to think of our feet and calmly apply actions. Our competent manner reassured the individual and gave a clear deterrent message to the gunman that we were capable and knew what we were doing. We managed this scenario to the best of our capability and ensured the premises, people, and colleagues were safe and secure.

I told my friends Suzanne and Thea about the incident and about winning the award. They were shocked about the prestigious event’s existence, as they had never heard of it. They were surprised and delighted that I had won. They were shocked at what the job entails, yet they see me in my personal life and do not necessarily understand the job that I do. So, to explain it to them, they now see security as guardian angels supporting people and communities.

I got my security license about seven years ago and joined the industry. When I got my license, I thought the job was as a doorman. However, I realised the job deals with all types of situations. No day is the same; every day is different and a new challenge.

My seven years have been enjoyable, and my job is to help people and provide a service that keeps people and the sites safe. Sometimes, we are a shoulder to cry on, and we have a supportive role in offering customer service; we are always waiting for something to happen, and we must react straight away; this is what we are trained to do. The perception of security is very different from reality, and some people face challenges in their personal lives. As an officer, you learn to understand people’s behaviour and body language by being supportive and being a person to talk with and talk about their issues with no judgment. Emotional intelligence is paramount in identifying a scenario or incident that could be pending.

What did your family and friends say?

My wife was ecstatic that I won, and she is my support network as she hears the scenarios and challenges that I face daily and was delighted to get the recognition that I deserve. Layla, his wife, said, I am proud of you, but please stay safe. I was so surprised because I didn’t see this happening, as I didn’t know this award was even a thing. Therefore, I am pleased he was recognised for all his hard work.

The award will be next to all my wife’s achievements in our cabinet at home. We partner and support each other in life, work, and community. We are united in what life throws us. This unites our home in our achievements, further cements our outlook on life as a combined unit and makes us both feel very proud of our accomplishments.

What did this mean to you personally?

This award means a lot to me as it recognises my role in security and acknowledges my hard work and dedication after years of working as a security professional. There are security officers who go the extra mile, and it feels fabulous to receive this recognition.

As security officers, we are never off duty as we are trained to deal with environmental and societal issues and would be the first responders to any situation, regardless of whether we are on or off duty. I honestly walk down the street with a strong sense of emotional intelligence, supporting my awareness of the surroundings and being vigilant every part of my daily journey. Even when I attend security premises, I will conduct a risk assessment of the environment and safety to ensure I know if my services will be required, as you always keep aware of potential risks.

Nicola Hepburn, Security Contracts Manager, said “I was delighted to nominate Onkar’s Hothi. His response to this incident was exceptional, but his overall dedication and contribution to the role are great, and I feel very fortunate to have Onkar on my team.

I do not doubt that Onkar will go on to a very successful career in security and provide guidance and support to security professionals. His overall approach is positive, honoured and respectful of the security industry.”

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The ACS Pacesetters is an independent initiative linked to FM Contract Watch LLP and is not being sponsored by The SIA

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