27 June 2023

SME Series

Breaking Barriers, Empowering Safety, One Show at a Time

Veena Gupta, Founder of Seam Group Services, is a trailblazer in the security services industry in India and is known as the Lady Bodyguard. Veena has served prestigious clients, handled special assignments, and expanded Seam Risk Solutions to encompass Women in Security (WIS) and My Security, My Responsibility (MSMR). The entrepreneur remains undeterred in her pursuit of a more inclusive and diverse security sector, including the protection of men from fraud cases.

Can you tell us more about your background as a woman bodyguard and safety consultant? It sounds like you have a fascinating story! We'd love to hear more about how your experiences influenced your decision to start your own company.

As a woman bodyguard and safety consultant, my background influenced my decision to start Seam Group Services. Growing up, I had a rebellious and tomboyish nature, always wanting to protect others. Although my dream of joining the police force was hindered by family constraints and my height, I pursued a career in hospitality management.

However, when I became a mother and sought a stable job, I came across an opportunity as a business development manager in a security services firm. Jumping at the chance to follow my passion, I underwent rigorous training in Bangkok to gain expertise in the security and protection industry.

With the professional expertise I garnered, I eventually established my own company. Seam Group Services was born from the need to fill a gap in the market. I wanted to provide intelligent, professional, and inclusive security services that prioritize skills and expertise over physical appearance.

My company aims to empower both men and women in the security sector and offer specialized services tailored to our client’s unique needs. Seam Group Services is dedicated to bridging the gap and revolutionizing the industry with a team of highly skilled protection officers.

In the realm of safety, understanding the regulatory and policy frameworks is crucial for success. As an expert in the field, we'd love to hear your insights on the most critical regulatory and policy frameworks that impact the safety space. Can you share your thoughts on these important factors and provide valuable advice for effectively navigating them?

In the safety space, there are several critical regulatory and policy frameworks. One important aspect is the government's focus on women's safety, which includes mandates for self-defence training, labour department regulations, and corporate policies. Additionally, the Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) guidelines are significant. To navigate these frameworks effectively, it is essential to ensure compliance with the regulations and requirements. Employers should consider appointing a Chief Security Officer (CSO) as mandated, who will be responsible for the security of the employees. It is also important to be aware of hidden words and potential misuse of regulations, such as in cases of extortion or false accusations. Staying informed and actively participating in relevant discussions and forums can help in understanding and navigating these regulatory and policy frameworks.

In the pursuit of spreading your impact, creating effective partnerships and collaborations with key stakeholders plays a vital role. We're curious to know your strategies for building these meaningful connections.

To create effective partnerships and collaborations, I employ various strategies. Firstly, I actively engage in workshops and events related to the topic, such as those focused on Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH). I leverage social media platforms to post and tag relevant individuals and organizations, spreading awareness and fostering connections. Additionally, I share safety-related content, including links to relevant resources, on social media, and relevant groups. networking associations and serving as a panellist provide opportunities to share knowledge and connect with key stakeholders.

Furthermore, in my organization, we collaborate with NGOs and provide them with the leverage to be part of our efforts, such as through POSH training and involving them in our employee protection (EP) teams. Effective counselling services are also provided to individuals who have been wrongfully accused.

Exhibitions can be a powerful tool for advocacy, especially when it comes to advancing the cause of women. How have you leveraged these platforms to raise awareness and drive positive change?

Exhibitions have been valuable platforms for advocacy purposes. During these exhibitions, I focus on creating intangible experiences and raising awareness among attendees. For example, at my exhibition booths, I present concepts like women's self-empowerment, women in security, and the importance of personal safety. I engage with school students, showcase women in marshal uniforms, and emphasize the message of ‘my security, my responsibility’ and self-defence. Demonstrations of mental and physical self-defence techniques are conducted throughout the exhibition.

In addition, dedicated time slots are allocated for security discussions, where corporates nominate employees to participate in self-defence training. To enhance the impact, chief guests, including women police officers and IPS (Indian Police Service) officers, are invited to support the cause. Furthermore, incorporating attractions like cyber security and children's safety, and involving corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, such as stalls promoting women empowerment, can further enhance the impact of exhibitions in advancing safety.

It's always inspiring to learn about real-life examples that showcase your expertise and the impact you've made. Is there a case study that you have been proud of ?

There are two case studies I am particularly proud of. In one case, I provided support and guidance to several men who were wrongfully accused under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) guidelines. By assisting them in understanding their rights and helping them navigate the process, I was able to help them protect their reputations and avoid unjust consequences. In another case, I provided mental support to a young woman who was facing domestic violence from her in-laws. Despite a lack of support from her own parents, I offered her empowerment through counselling and shared my personal story as inspiration. She found the strength to pursue personal growth, took up a paying guest (PG) accommodation for herself and her two children, and eventually gained support from her parents. These case studies highlight the positive impact of providing guidance, empowerment, and mental support to individuals facing challenging situations.

In the fast-paced world of the safety industry, staying up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies is no easy feat. How do you manage to keep your finger on the pulse of the ever-evolving safety landscape?

To stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies in the safety industry, I actively participate in technical discussions at shows and conferences. These events provide opportunities to network and learn about emerging topics and advancements, including the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies. Being involved in business verticals related to safety, such as access control and CCTV, and partnering with businesses also helps me stay informed. I regularly follow industry publications like Security India magazines and utilise resources like the FSAI (Fire & Security Association of India) directory.

If you could offer a nugget of wisdom to aspiring entrepreneurs embarking on their own business ventures, what golden piece of advice would you share to ignite their journey with passion and purpose?

My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs would be to treat their jobs as entrepreneurs from the beginning. Before venturing into unknown territory, it is important to gain experience and knowledge within a company or industry. Once you have a solid idea or product to sell, consider starting with a small proprietorship. Dedication, hard work, honesty, effective communication, and providing excellent customer service and after-sales support are vital for success. Remember that there are no shortcuts, and maintaining high ethical standards is crucial for long-term growth and reputation.

What topics fuel your passion as a thought leader and why?

I am passionate about several topics. Firstly, I focus on crisis executive protection and finding effective solutions to mitigate risks in high-stress situations. Additionally, I advocate for breaking stereotypes and challenging societal norms, particularly regarding the role of men in gender equality and addressing men's issues. I emphasize the importance of sharing personal stories and using storytelling as a powerful tool for inspiration. Fraud investigation projects are another area of interest, as well as the implementation of fire safety marshal drills. Furthermore, I am dedicated to highlighting the journey of security guards and their transformation into security officers, promoting self-respect and recognition within the industry.

What remarkable changes have you witnessed in the personal safety space in India? and Do you foresee any thrilling opportunities or challenges in the realm of personal safety over the next 5-10 years?

In recent years, personal safety has become a more significant concern in India. The focus on women's safety has increased, and there is a growing awareness of online safety issues. Opportunities in the personal safety space include the development of more advanced cyber security measures and addressing the misuse of laws and policies. However, challenges persist, such as the need for greater enforcement of existing laws and the establishment of new regulations to address emerging safety concerns. Over the next 5-10 years, I anticipate a rise in cyber security threats and increased demand for safety measures. AI will play a more impactful role in safety technologies, and there will be a greater emphasis on policies that balance the protection of individuals while preventing misuse. The demand for security services will continue to grow, necessitating a focus on enhancing safety and security measures.

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