From Police Dog Handling to Compliance: Armed Forces experience in a corporate world.
Darren Pascoe joined FLEETCOR in 2016 as the European Head of Compliance. Previously, Darren served in the RAF for 24 years. He discusses his career transition from the Armed Forces to the corporate world, challenges his team faces in Compliance and transferable skills he has taken away from the Military.
My Career History.
I joined the RAF pretty much straight after I had finished school, as an RAF Police Dog Handler. I had a very diverse career within the military, covering roles that included Physical Security, Counter Intelligence, Special Investigations, Aviation Security and even traffic duties, such as being a Police Motorcyclist. I’ve been lucky enough to have travelled a lot during this time, with a number of deployments to the Gulf, Canada, Italy, the Balkans and the Falkland islands to name a few; I’ve served at 22 RAF stations and moved house 15 times in the space of 24 years.
I’ve always been involved in roles that include an element of risk management, even in the earliest parts of my career - never enter the kennel of an angry or feeding dog – and I guess this is where I got the interest for working in Compliance.
"Although I do miss the camaraderie of working with a team in a high risk environment (which is hard to replicate in any role), what attracted me to FLEETCOR was the sheer variety and potential challenges on offer on a daily basis" - Darren Pascoe, European Head of Compliance.
My role now as FLEETCOR’s European Head of Compliance.
If you were to ask me what an average working day is like for me, I wouldn’t be able to answer this easily, as there’s no such thing as an ‘average day’ at FLEETCOR! I currently have two Compliance Officers based in our Swindon office and one based in Prague. With the range of topics we cover, such as GDPR, Data protection, Risk Management and more, there really is something different happening every day.
My role, as FLEETCOR’s European Head of Compliance, can certainly be high pressure. If we provide the wrong advice or recommend that the business carries out things in a certain way, it can have real implications; not just on cost but also the operational effectiveness of teams across the business. So everyone is always looking to you, to make sure the decisions we make don’t just keep us on the right side of regulation but also minimise the impacts on the business.
"Despite this, there are a number of things that make my role rewarding. It can be something as simple as a colleague thanking us for the tender or bid they received after we have provided them with data, seeing business operations change after recommending or helping to design those changes or even seeing a team member develop from a new, inexperienced starter to someone who can hold their own when dealing with some of the huge challenges we face".
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
One of the challenges we are facing at the moment is GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), which is designed to protect the personal data and privacy of everyone and to improve your rights, making sure that data is accurate and only used by those who have the right to. It’s important that, as a business, we understand that almost everything we do has an aspect of privacy attached to it. For an example, we know where a person refuels their vehicle and at what time; this information is considered to be private.
GDPR regulation means we have to understand the data we have, what we are doing with it and how long we can retain it. The legislation has implications not just for the business, but for the individual employee as well; they could be found liable for censure if they breach this legislation.
"It’s Compliance’s job to understand the process and procedures, identify areas of risk and put in place measures to minimise this risk to protect the business and ultimately the employee. If we ignore GDPR, the implications are significant fines for us as well as a loss of faith in our business by our customers, who expect that we can and will protect their information".
What I’ve taken away from the RAF.
There are quite a few similarities between my career in the RAF and my role now. One of these, is dealing with fast changing and sometimes conflicting priorities. My time in the Service taught me how to analyse multiple sets of data and prioritise resources, whether that be people or time, to try and achieve an optimum result. Another transferable skill I have is remaining calm under pressure; when things go wrong in the Military, others look to you as the leader for guidance and instruction to get them out of the problem. Thankfully at FLEETCOR, these decisions are rarely life threatening, so the consequences of making a poor decision are a little less severe.
One thing I’ve taken away from my time as a RAF Police Dog Handler is my love of dogs. I’ve always had dogs and they’re usually a mix of German Shepherds and Labradors. I currently have two black Labradors; Ebony and Willow. One is a rescue dog from Cyprus that I discovered whilst out walking with family. The other is a retired Customs and Immigration dog, who after 8 years of working at Calais was retired and in need of a new home.
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