Lessons in Leadership: Kate Tan, DGM of SATS Security Services shares why you should join their fast-growing team

Lessons in Leadership: Kate Tan, DGM of SATS Security Services shares why you should join their fast-growing team

The Deputy General Manager of SATS Security Services (SATS Security) has had a long history in the security industry: Kate Tan started her career in one of Singapore’s largest security firms before heading to another to head its unarmed division. Her success gave her the confidence to start, and run, her own security firm for 10 years before selling it and finally joining SATS late-2020. “Back before I joined, I’d already noticed that SATS Security had a lot more potential to grow. At that point the team had started branching out from aviation and I knew that I wanted to be part of the change,” she enthused.

Kate is quick to share about the benefits of SATS Security’s growth, but also takes the time to remind that it takes a team with resolve and passion to excel in this particular field.

As a woman, she shared that her time in the male-dominated industry has not been a bed of roses. “I needed to be exceptionally alert and hardworking to rise up,” she elaborated. “When I ran my own company, I was competing not just against the three main auxiliary police forces (APFs), but also against the other 240 security agencies in Singapore.”

Kate in the SATS Security Services Academy dojo where new recruits are participating in a new in-house training session.

That experience has given her the chops needed to help usher SATS Security into an exciting future. Hear what Kate has to say about the new advances and direction for the team and why it is such an exciting time to join the SATS family:

Can you share with us what SATS Security does?

We provide security services and technology solutions to a wide variety of clients, both in, and out of aviation. Extending beyond security services, our scope includes handling of inadmissible passengers (passengers who are not allowed to enter the country they have travelled to); monitoring and inspection of catering carts for various organisations to ensure food and security standards are met, and manning of the only auxiliary police force (AFP)-operated airside vault for valuable cargo handling. All of which are unique to SATS Security.

SATS Security is also moving towards outcome-based contracts - providing non-aviation clients with end-to-end solutions integrated with technology. Our goal is to help clients further enhance manpower provisions and protection of infrastructure.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about SATS Security?

A common misconception is that SATS Security only operates within the airport and provides guarding services. But we are a lot more than a security guarding outfit! Extending beyond aviation, we provide cash valuables escort services as well. Our officers are trained to take appropriate security measures to deter and thwart any attempted theft of the valuables that they might be escorting.

Tell us more about some of the new changes coming to SATS Security.

Quite a few new and exciting ones! Our pioneer batch of trainees from the new, in-house SATS Security Services Academy embarked on their rigorous training exercise on 5th April 2021. With the in-house SATS Security Academy in place, our officers will be provided with continued learning opportunities and a chance to refresh their knowledge in key skills. We are also looking to expand our capabilities and upskill staff to take on various roles in planning and training. This includes the development of our own shooting rangeSATS Maintenance Centre, where the shooting range will be located, should be ready by the second half of 2023.

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The new SATS Security Services Academy is equipped with innovative training tools such as VR and AR to prepare trainees for real-world scenarios.

We’ll be officially launching SATS Security Services Academy in 2021 and will celebrate with our trainees upon completion of their course!

We’ve also seen a rise in demand for security services since the pandemic started - for example, there is now a need for manning Government Quarantine Facilities (GQF) and for additional security checks. As our people are trained for a lot more than aviation services, SATS Security is rising up to the challenge and will be diversifying into several new spaces.

With an increase in demand, we foresee that we’ll need a second deployment centre. Our clients are spread across Singapore, so we’re looking for a more central location that will allow us to better meet their needs. This second deployment centre will also serve our own officers as it’ll be more convenient for them to head to work.

Another new addition would be our very own team of Outriders. Outriders act as enforcement officers on the roads, some of their duties include escorting of vehicles, enforcing traffic rules at traffic junctions, ensuring safety during major construction, assisting with traffic management during major events, quick response to emergencies, just to name some. We’re still working on the details for the launch, but will be making a public announcement when we’re ready.

All these new capabilities will allow us to provide more support for the domestic market. It’s an exciting time for the team because we are becoming more self-sufficient, developing cost-effective solutions and widening our scope all at the same time. We are proud to demonstrate SATS’ ability to grow and adapt to the changes happening in the world.

When will these changes come into fruition?

They will be implemented throughout the year so look out for us!

What do you see for the future of the security industry?

Security is a very resilient industry, despite the circumstances, it will always be essential and stable - demand will always be higher than supply. At SATS Security, we are looking into how we can increase productivity and make the job less manpower-intensive for our clients. This includes upskilling employees and integrating technology with our security solutions.  

We also want to move towards becoming a more customer-centric business, and part of that includes cross-training staff from different divisions. For example, we have recently begun training staff from SATS Passenger Services. It’s mutually beneficial – they pick up new skills and at the same time their experience in service helps inculcate a hospitality-focused approach when it comes to providing security services. There’s a shift in mindset and I’ve found that our officers are more adaptable than ever. 

This new initiative serves to strengthen our operations towards pandemic resilience, and you can expect more of such solutions to arrive in the near future. 


You’ve talked a lot about technology, could you share how it is changing the industry?

Technology plays a huge part in enhancing security. Just with the use of cameras, detectors and alarms, we are made more effective in our duty to protect. It allows us to monitor more, helps us identify threats and respond quicker. And that’s just basic technology.

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Every day there are new advances in technology available for the industry and it’s interesting to see how it helps our officers do their job smarter and in more effective ways. Rather than relying on a manpower-intensive workforce, our clients are given higher quality of work with a team enhanced by new methods.

One example is Facial Recognition. This was implanted at SATS Inflight Catering Centre 1 as a way to boost our access control measures. With COVID19, the system was further incorporated with an automated temperature-taking and turnstile system. Without this system, we would have had to introduce two more employees to manually safeguard safe entry as well as temperature-taking.

On a lighter note, tell us what you like about the security industry.

I have always liked the security industry because I enjoy doing different things every day. There will never be just one same scenario and that keeps me going.

It’s also been quite the experience watching how security, as an industry, has evolved from being manpower-focused - that is to say having the numbers to enforce and guard - to an outcome-based industry. That allows us to be more innovative with our technology solutions while training our officers to be more service-driven.

Adapting to these changes is quite the challenge, but our people have more than risen to the occasion. 

What are some of the interesting things people don’t know about the working in the security industry?

  • This is actually quite important to note - unlike an office job, sleeping on the job in security is a chargeable offence.
  • Working in a security industry is a recession-proof occupation as demand outweighs supply.
  • Lastly, the security industry follows a set progression for promotion with a fixed guaranteed salary and prescribed job description.

If you are interested in joining SATS Security, leave your details with us below and our hiring team will get in touch with you:

Find out more about SATS Security Recruitment here