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Interview with Euralarm's 'new' and 'old' Presidents Martin Harvey and Enzo Peduzzi

As one President gives way to another we interviewed outgoing Enzo Peduzzi and President-elect Martin Harvey about the past and future of Euralarm.

Euralarm: Mr. Peduzzi, if you had to describe it in one sentence, what was your biggest ambition when you started your term as President of Euralarm back in 2015?

Enzo Peduzzi: My mission was to bring back Euralarm to its Members, to make them proud of being part of Euralarm. Some of our Members did not really use this fact in their external communication. It looked like they were not convinced that Euralarm’s was useful to their business, but they did not want to leave the European association either. The solution was to communicate more on what on Euralarm does for them, so that they could in turn relay this information to their management or their own members, in the case of national associations. 

 

Euralarm: Now that this transformation has taken place, together with the set-up of a Euralarm team in Brussels, what do you think could come next?

Enzo Peduzzi: I think that we have made a descent step in professionalising the organisation of Euralarm but we need to do more! The underlying reason is that the Delegates of our Members have less and less time to dedicate to voluntary-based work for our association. Therefore, Euralarm needs to be able to increase its level of support to the Members, using the expertise of the Delegates more for the strategic decisions, and less to produce paperwork. I have often felt that during Board meetings, when we decide to do something, we need to be able to delegate those tasks to the professional team, the staffing of the association, instead of having to search for volunteers between the Delegates. At the moment, we do not have enough resources for this.

Martin Harvey: The key thing is to have good communication with the Members so that they are engaged. It is getting harder and harder for companies to release their staff to carry out the work of our association but it is important that we demonstrate to the Members how important Euralarm is to our Industries going forward. Our communication has to be the key to that. Because we cannot rely on our Members offering their services we do need to strengthen the professional team. The professional team needs to take the guidance from the Members and receive the mandate to take on more responsibility. Members are now feeling more confident in Euralarm and are looking for the professional team to deliver.

We also need get our views through to the right people. We tend to restrict those to our own Members rather than publicising them to a wider audience. I think that this is probably going to be the key going forward. The big ask of course is the advocacy and the link to politics and politicians. We need to improve that link so that we are a lot stronger. It would be nice to think that if there is a fire and security issue, the EU lawmakers would come to Euralarm first for guidance, we are on the road to that we have not got there at this stage. I think that this is one area that we need to strengthen on in the coming years.

Enzo Peduzzi: I agree. To make more inroads into the European Institutions is very time consuming. We need to see how we can drive this in the future.

Martin Harvey: Talking to the European Parliament is key to us going forward but this is not without its difficulties, staff change on a too frequent basis and this makes if time consuming and difficult to forge alliances. So, to be successful it does take a lot of work to be active in advocacy. At the FIA, we have regular meetings with different UK government departments and it is unusual that more than two weeks go by without a meeting.

 

Euralarm: How do you see national associations and company Members in Euralarm working together?

Martin Harvey: The larger companies have their own agendas, which are often aligned, and they have time and availability to look strategically ahead but often take a long time to implement the strategy. On the other hand, the smaller companies represented by national association are more agile. The smaller companies cannot see what is coming but are better at changing. There is a complementarity between the smaller companies and the large companies.

Enzo Peduzzi: The large companies need the small companies, because the small companies use the products of the big companies. Therefore, the big companies have an interest to develop the market. For Euralarm, opening membership to big companies was one of the best decision that was ever made. The big companies give us reputation but the small companies give us weight. For Euralarm, I am convinced that this is a very good mixture.

 

Euralarm: Innovation with cyber security and globalisation are big changes affecting Euralarm and its Members, how would you tackle that in the future?

Enzo Peduzzi: Cyber-security is a subject where we need to adapt, we need a holistic approach which include the customer and the services. What I see in the future is that digitisation has the potential to change the business model. It might not change the product but it will change the service. We as an Industry need to watch and drive it in the right direction.

Martin Harvey: Fire tends to be more conservative, Security is faster moving because the risk related is not quite so big. We need to look at the car Industry for example, where the product becomes more reliable thanks to technology. On top of that, the need to recruit specialist engineers is growing and we are not necessarily one of the most attracting Industry. That is one of our challenges.

Enzo Peduzzi: But we have laid solid foundations with the service European standard…

Martin Harvey: The standard shows you can have a career in fire and security related services, but If we ask engineering students where would you like to be in 10 years, probably we are not on the top of their list.

Enzo Peduzzi: On the other hand, we are not communicating enough how much we invest in training.

Martin Harvey: One strong point I think for our service Industry is job satisfaction. I think that is a challenge for Euralarm in the future is: are we going to have a strong impact of the European service standard, or will the market become self-certified, and what I mean by that is things such as ‘trip adviser’, go online and find your fire protection company. This one has 5 stars. It could swing one way or the other as far as that is concerned and I think that we are at that balance point at this moment in time.

Enzo Peduzzi: Yes, this will be a challenge. Although Euralarm and its Members have a discussion and a vision on this, we don’t really know how do we think that the services are going to look 10 years from now.

 

Euralarm: As we are at a key moment for Euralarm with Enzo passing on the torch to you Martin, there is an aspect of our Industry’s history that has been constant and that is the relation to private security.

Martin Harvey: A person is a person and can only do certain things. The electronic fire protection and security Industry has been investing in new technology. An example that would be drones now being used for patrolling premises. Clearly, some part of the security business could see it as a threat.

Enzo Peduzzi: On one hand, this could be a threat to our business, on the other we know that private security tries to integrate this technological aspect. I do not think however that competition should be such a point of focus here, because what the man guarding Industry is losing in electronic solutions it is now gaining on the public segment of the market: it is getting more and more public contracts, as governments are employing more and more private security. Private Security is moving into a big new market. Also, companies that were traditionally dedicated to guarding are now getting closer to Euralarm because of their involvement with electronic.

Martin Harvey: And at the end of the day, to get an ‘intrusion to a conclusion’ you will always need a physical presence.

Enzo Peduzzi: I think that we have overcome this competition between both fields because both see the opportunities for cooperation. We are cooperating on standardisation where we are looking in the same direction. We could probably even do more lobbying together in the future.

 

Euralarm: Mr. Harvey, I am going to ask you the same question as I did to Mr. Peduzzi at the beginning of this interview: what is in one sentence your biggest ambition for Euralarm as you prepare for this new presidency?

Martin Harvey: Improve our communication further and attract more people into our Industry.

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