Executive protection, official protection, celebrity protection, VIP protection are many names. For some, synonyms and, for others, even totally different professions. There is great confusion in the names that describe our profession, accompanied by equally intense methodological confusion. The ancient Romans used to say nomen est nomen to express their belief that the name of something or someone represents its destiny and essence. For this reason, it is very important to have properly defined the name of our profession, since its methodology is also derived from it.
To begin with, it is essential to define whether they are the same profession or not, as many insist that executive protection, official protection and celebrity protection are distinct professions. While it is true that there are considerable differences in the resources available, some specific threats, as well as the legal status of the agents, share the same objectives: avoid intentional and unintentional damage, protect the image, avoid uncomfortable situations, take care of the protective comfort, protect sensitive information and take care of the legal part; as well as the same measures: intelligence, counterintelligence, physical and electronic security, surveillance and counter-surveillance, route analysis, advanced and logistics, close protection, etc. It is very clear that, sharing the same objectives and methods, even with different scopes, it is a single profession with different sub-variants.
Now, is the definition of executive protection adequate to represent this profession? No. Because, to begin with, not all the people we protect are executives, as we have already seen. On the other hand, in a company we have many executives, and not all of them have protection, much less of the same type, so the name does not apply. The same applies to the concept of employee protection. On the other hand, the name VIP protection, coined many decades ago, which stands for "protection of very important persons", is also inappropriate in the increasingly horizontal society in which we live. Today's organizations promote equity and inclusion, considering that all people are important, so they would hardly accept VIP distinctions, which belong to another era. Likewise, who decides who is very important and who is not, and under what criteria? The term "protection of persons" is not adequate either, since it is much more vague than all the others and describes less what we are doing. Finally, the concept of "close protection" represents an archaic and dangerous idea, since it proposes to repel aggressions on one side of the executive, which by definition raises the risks and is therefore the least relevant meaning.
Therefore, what would be the name that comes closest to the reality of what we are doing? The people we protect, whether they are executives, civil servants, celebrities, social fighters or journalists, have, if something happens to them, a critical impact on the countries, organizations, social and cultural groups to which they belong, which is easily definable and quantifiable. So there is no elitism in defining someone as a "critical impact individual" (CII), as the impact can be relatively easily calculated.
Could it then be called CII protection? Neither, because the word "protection," according to the Oxford Languages, means: "the action of protecting or preventing a person or thing from being harmed or from being harmed by something that might cause harm. To protect implies preventing any harm, that is, to commit ourselves to bringing risks to zero. But the basic truth of safety in general is that zero risk does not exist, so the word protect is not adequate either. Our job is really to handle and manage Critical Impact Individuals Risk Management (CIRM).
This new concept implies a change of approach, as it involves the executive in the first place. We are no longer the protection escorts who only follow and shoot, but risk managers (which belong to the protégé himself) who seek to mitigate them through various management measures, in which he or she and his or her environment also participate.
Of course the trade name of executive protection will endure for a long time; however, it is important that professionals know where our profession is going; that confusion over names and professions end and that we identify ourselves as risk managers working in conjunction with the client and not as mere escorts. This is the evolution and integration of executive, celebrity, civil servant and VIP protection into the single concept of CIRM.