THE MAGAZINE

The Sentinel CEO: Perspectives on Security, Risk, and Leadership in a Post-9/11 World

By William G. Parret; Reviewed by Francis James D’Addario CPP, CFE

***** The Sentinel CEO: Perspectives on Security, Risk, and Leadership in a Post-9/11 World. By William G. Parrett; published by John Wiley and Sons, Inc.; available from ASIS, item #1783, 703/519-6200 (phone), www.asisonline.org (Web); 208 pages; $30 (ASIS members), $33 (nonmembers).

In The Sentinel CEO, William Parrett accomplishes what many have attempted to do but failed: making the pragmatic case for risk-based, integrated security as a prerequisite for growth in a global environment.

While rich in experience himself as former CEO of consulting giant Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Parrett draws input from a cross-functional team of experts that includes fellow executives, public and private sector security professionals, and risk-management personnel. Together, they examine the successes of government and corporations alike, both before and after 9-11, and the missed opportunities, offering keen insights on all.

Parrett suggests that today’s risk environment was born on February 23, 1993, when he and his colleagues survived a terrorist attack. “Of one thing I was sure,” he writes. “We would never return to the World Trade Center.”

Parrett recognizes the ascension of the chief security officer (CSO) as “a new senior level position on the corporate organizational chart” that “is fast becoming a key decision maker in the top management of many U.S. companies and indispensable ally of the CEO.”

Most importantly, he serves notice to executives and boards that they must find a way to effectively track all relevant indicators of success and risk. As recently as 2007, he notes, a survey found that only 29 percent of corporate respondents rated their ability to track nonfinancial data as excellent or good.

Proper all-hazards risk analysis requires full contemplation of internal and external geopolitical and natural conditions, Parrett says. The latter requires what he calls “imagining the unimaginable” and includes potential dangers such as pandemics and catastrophic storms. Further, leadership courage requires that executives candidly inform both their organizations and governments about attitudes, infrastructure capabilities, hazards, and mitigation opportunities with an unwavering ethical compass and nimbleness for compliance.

The text’s supporting data includes numerous surveys and case data detailing the cost of failing to recognize risk and to mitigate it properly.

Parrett does not have all the answers, but he lays out an organizational roadmap worthy of consideration. Consequently, this book should be a required read for CEOs, CSOs, or anyone who aspires to such a position. It would likewise make a great gift for your CEO or chairman of the board, and one that would keep on giving.


Reviewer: Francis James D’Addario CPP, CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner), Coffee Master, is vice president of Partner and Asset Protection for the Starbucks Coffee Company. He is the recipient of the National Food Service Security Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the Spirit of Starbucks Award.

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