Shenan O’Mahony receiving her IFPO CPO certificate with Chief Operations Officer at Manguard Plus, Leo Harris, and International Director International Foundation for Protection Officers, Mike Hurst. Photo: Andy Davies

Safety first for Ireland

Cork’s in safe hands these days after Mallow native Shenan O ‘Mahony became the first female to sit and pass a notoriously difficult international security exam.

Shenan recently sat Ireland’s inaugural IFPO CPO (Certified Protection Officer) exam which was facilitated by Ireland’s largest privately owned security company Manguard Plus.

The 41 year old, who has worked in the industry for the past two decades, said she was delighted to have successfully completed and passed the exam.

Speaking at the presentation of certificates, Shenan said: “This exam was definitely tough and is recognised as a very difficult exam, so to pass it is a huge professional milestone for me. I am over the moon.”

Shenan said she believes the mindset around jobs prospects in the security industry is changing and that it is now seen as a real career option across the board, for both men and women. “Only six per cent of women work in the Irish security industry but I do believe the mindset is definitely changing. Women now see that there are more opportunities for professional advancement in security. They recognise it as a real career as opposed to a job,” she said.

Also speaking at the event was Leo Harris, Chief Operations Officer with Manguard Plus, who said the people who undertook the IFPO CPO exam are amongst the best in the country.

“The security industry is now a highly regulated and professional industry, and continuous assessment is just one of the methods we all employ to ensure that the most exacting standards are adhered to.

“Security is such a fast paced industry, demanding a unique skill set and stringent adherence to industry protocols and professional benchmarking as determined by examination is key to ensuring professionalism,” he said.

The International Foundation for Protection Officers (IFPO) is a non-profit organisation established in January 1988 to help address the training and certification needs of security/protection officers and their supervisors internationally.

The first CPO course in Ireland was run this year with students given access to the reference material, sitting a four hour examination with 180 multiple choice questions requiring a pass mark of over 70 per cent.

Dr Linda Florence PhD, CPP, Chairman of the Board at IFPO in the United States, paid tribute to Manguard Plus for organising both the examination and the certificate presentation.

“It is critically important to mark these milestones and we in the IFPO are delighted to see such consistent commitment to improving the security industry in Ireland. I wish these programmes were available when I was starting out. The fact that they now exist is testimony to the security industry demanding the absolute best practice in all it does,” she said.