Women’s Month puts the spotlight on the many inspiring women across our nation, doing amazing things in their communities and their lines of work. One such example is Vanessa Heugh, who has spent the past 15 years working in residential security and armed response.
“If you ask me why I do it, my answer would be that I really enjoy what I do. I love working with people and being part of a team, and my time in the armed response industry has taught me the value of being a team player,” she says.
Vanessa started her career in the monitoring centre for (then) ADT, in Port Elizabeth (as it was called then), where her duties mainly revolved around being a contact point between the company’s customer and the many armed response officers on the ground.
“In this line of work, you have to be a people’s person. Your personality helps you interact with a customer who might be in distress, while also comforting an armed response officer who is under fire and calling for backup. My people skills have grown a lot since my first day on the job,” she says.
Over the years, she has been promoted to more senior managerial roles in the monitoring centre while also being introduced to the technical behind-the-scenes systems that run the centre. She was later also transferred to the company’s Garden Route branch, and recently joined the monitoring centre team that looks after Boston and Welgemoed in Cape Town.
“I have always had an idea that I want to grow my skills and my experience, and this has helped me to where I am now in the Mother City. My responsibility is the specialist vehicle tracking cameras we operate, and I also directly engage with the local neighborhood watches in our area.”
Women’s Month, in her view, is a chance to remember the power of team work.
“My advice for any woman who works in the security sector, or who is maybe thinking of this line of work, is to remember that we can only win if we all work together and support each other. Armed response can be a very stressful career especially when you experience crime first-hand, and that is where the value of a kind ear or a supportive colleague comes into play.”
This collaborative approach also extends to the public, adds Vanessa.
“Please work with us to help keep you safe. It can already make a big difference if people are more alert to what happens around them, and if they then contact us to come and help. Be aware of your surroundings and don’t give criminals the opportunities they are always looking to exploit.”