At Paladin Security, we believe that the best way to create a strong team is through employee development and career ownership. Through our promotion-from-within philosophy, an employee can plot their own career path within our organization, lending stability to our workforce. In our feature, Paladin Then & Now, we showcase some of the amazing and inspirational stories of our security leaders rising through the ranks. This week, we’re featuring Director of Operations, Kevin Bissoondyal.
Like most of Paladin’s leadership team, Kevin started his career in security as a Security Officer. His passion for the industry and hard work led him to his current role as Director of Operations. In this interview, he talks about his growth journey with Paladin and how its culture, promotion from within philosophy, and diversity helped him to evolve personally and professionally to become the leader in security that he is today.
What was your first contact with the security industry? How did you run into Paladin?
Ever since I was a little boy, I wanted to be a police officer. I looked up to them, they were mentors to me so that was my aspiration. As I went through the Private Security and Investigative Services program over at Durham College, the professors consistently spoke about getting into the security industry to gain some life experience. The recruiters that they work with really valued the experience that you get from working in healthcare security, specifically at hospitals. So right when I graduated, I figured I needed to get into security. I typed in “healthcare security in Ontario” and Paladin Security was all over my screen. I said to myself, “well seems like they're leaders in security and this is where I need to go,” so I applied. Shortly after I got an interview, I found myself sitting in Paladin’s training and over at Scarborough Hospital as a frontline Security Officer. That's really where I got my start in the industry.
You’ve been with the company for more than 10 years. Can you walk us through your progression/journey that led you to become a security leader?
I was in the Security Officer role for about a year and a half and then the position of Shift Supervisor opened up. I applied and I was lucky enough to get that opportunity and I loved it. I loved having the sense of accountability working with the team and starting to get introduced to leadership. I spent about two years as a Shift Supervisor and then was promoted to Security Coordinator for the Scarborough Health Network overlooking their two campuses. I think that's really where I got my knack for leadership and leading a multi-campus team remotely because I couldn't be everywhere at once. I really understood what it means to be a leader and what it means to be a positive influence to drive your team to excellence. I spent about three years in that capacity before the opportunity of Client Service Manager (CSM) came my way. I was selected to be the CSM for Eastern Toronto primarily overlooking healthcare accounts at that time. That's where my love for the industry really soared and I realized at that point I no longer wanted to be a police officer. I wanted to start helping people who were aspiring to get into law enforcement. I found that as my knack. I started seeing that I had kind of a natural skillset for leadership.
After about three years in the CSM role, the position of Senior CSM was awarded to me and I had the responsibility of supporting the new CSMs, helping them grow and understand what it really means to be a Client Service Manager. I spent about another year in that role and the Director of Operations for Toronto opened up. I was once again lucky enough to get the position and I'm approaching my one-year mark in this role now and I love it! I love being a part of the growth within Toronto and working with the CSMs.
What was the transition like from the field to the office?
It was a culture shock. I still remember my very first day as a CSM and standing in the lobby struggling to record my voicemail. I did it like six times to try to sound like a manager. Coming into the role, everything changed. I went from working 12-hour continental shifts to working an 8-hour shift and from being in uniform to being in business attire. I had to understand that my responsibilities changed and that I was not frontline anymore. I was leading from behind the scenes and providing support to the people who are attending these calls. The change did take some time to get used to, but honestly, just working with my mentors showed me the ropes and how to interact with people. After that, I just kind of took that knowledge and put my own spin on it and here I am.
How did Paladin’s Promotion-from-within philosophy and culture help you develop both, personally and professionally, to support your career in security and become the leader that you are today?
It impacted me heavily! When I first heard the concept “promotion from within philosophy”, I didn't necessarily know what that meant. Then I started interacting with the leaders within the organization and that's where it really started speaking to me. I look at the Toronto office right now and every single one of our managers were frontline Security Officers at one point in their careers. I think embracing that as a philosophy that Paladin lives by, pushed them to really empower upcoming leaders, focus on succession planning, and career development. That's exactly what Paladin did for me, they saw something in me, and they knew what my vision was. It gave me the confidence, the skillset, and the knowledge to continue progressing. That's the reason I’m where I am today.
When you decided you wanted to move up within the company, did anyone help/mentor you along the way?
There are two people that come to my mind; Sandeep Kahlon, who's now the Senior Director of Program Development Enhancement and Blair Davenport, who is Executive Vice President for Eastern Canada. Both were frontline Security Officers at one point, and they shared the same journey I did, so I knew that the growth possibilities were endless. I took advantage of that and asked what I needed to do to continue elevating myself both professionally and personally. Sandeep Kahlon was my CSM when I decided that I wanted to take the jump as a CSM. He brought me into the office and spoke to me about exactly what I needed to do to build the skillset and criteria that they were looking for in a CSM at that time. Once I got into the office, Blair Davenport was Director of Operations at that point. I vividly recall having conversations with him about what I needed to be successful, and he was 100% there to provide that to me. I'm really happy to see that he continued progressing and my goal is to continue progressing right behind him. I think he's a great mentor. Mentorship is extremely important, and we have a very strong foundation of mentors within the organization that is going to help our future leaders get to these positions as well.
We have so many staff members with different stories and diverse cultural backgrounds that make up The Paladin Family’s award-winning culture. What do you think about working with such a diverse team? Has this helped you grow in any way or are there any experiences you’d like to talk about?
Paladin’s culture is amazing. Culture to me is conversations, and the amount of conversations we have on what our people need at every level is honestly so refreshing. Being a part of this culture is truly an honour. I think a big piece behind this is a sense of inclusion. Every member of Paladin needs to feel that sense of inclusion, it's extremely important to us as a company. Our strong support and involvement with diversity and inclusion allow for a powerful workplace. Toronto has such a diverse population, and we have all walks of life working with us. I have members from the LGBTQ+ communities as well as minority members. It's such a great mix that anyone stepping through our doors would never feel out of place.
Do you think diversity has contributed to Paladin’s strength as a company?
Absolutely! I think the diversity that we have around us leads to a sense of comfort and a more sincere approach to what we do. We're not working off a script, we are working off of sheer feeling, emotion, and care where we are allowed to be ourselves. With all of that, we really create a comfortable work environment.
May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada which is an opportunity to recognize the contributions that Canadians of Asian descent have made and continue to make to Canada's growth and prosperity. This year’s theme is “Continuing a Legacy of Greatness”. Having South Asian descent as part of your identity, what does this mean to you?
I'm extremely honoured to have South Asian descent. Being a representative of my heritage is truly empowering. It is an amazing feeling to be representing my culture to the standard that I am currently. Paladin has obviously played an extremely big part in that. I'm really excited for any other members of the South Asian communities that are reading this, to feel empowered as well. Ethnicity is not absolutely everything, but I do believe that having strong cultural roots and embracing that throughout every kind of position that you go into speak strong volumes about your character. Don't lose where you came from.
What are the things that you love most about working at Paladin? What inspires you every day?
The people, without a doubt. The organization, the frontline staff, the executive team, the senior leaders, the managers, the intermediate leaders…everyone. The people are what drives me to come to work every day. I hate to sound cliche when I say it but, when I use the words “Paladin Family”, that is the definition of the organization; we are a family. It really speaks to the sense of care that we have for our colleagues. Every level that I've interacted with, I haven't had a bad experience, we all share that same type of sincere approach for the people that we work with
What piece of advice would you give to someone looking to move up the ranks just like you did and become a leader in the security industry?
Although the finish line may seem very far, it really isn't. You need to not be scared of the work, there is going to be a lot of work ahead of you, however, it always pays off. Honestly, I'll openly say this; you don't need to be the most intelligent person to climb ranks. You need to work hard, have a very strong work ethic, be dedicated, and be motivated to get to the finish line. Don't give up on your dreams and never count yourself out. I think those are the main pieces to look at. Things take time and great things happen with time. So yeah, I think my biggest advice is…work hard.
Thank you, Kevin; you are a shining example of a true leader and we are immensely proud to have you in The Paladin Family!
If you were inspired by Kevin’s story and are interested in starting a meaningful career in security, check out our careers page for all our opportunities within Paladin. We would love to see you grow with The Paladin Family and take your career to the next level.