Making the Jump From Public to Private

Chris Weaver and Tom Mahlik explain how they have translated public-sector experience into private-sector success

One of the reasons all of these skills — horizontal thinking, cooperation, long-range sensibility, intelligence building, and succession planning — are more prevalent in the public sector is that public-sector leaders are able to hone them in an environment that is not profit-centric. That may be the biggest advantage for retired public-sector leaders who are entering a second career. Having developed these competencies free of the pressure of the profit-center perspective, the quarterly conference call, and a “me-first” business culture, they can adapt their abilities to a profit-focused organization with the confidence and experience to assert that some protection elements should be non-negotiable and other issues can be adjusted to help the company build value.

At the same time, it may be the biggest challenge. Entering the private sector, as Quilter frequently emphasizes, entails a jarring culture shift. Moving from an environment where profit is relatively unimportant to one where profit is king is certain to cause conflicts, and too many public-sector individuals looking to make the jump do not prepare for these differences adequately.

"All of the skill and know how of public-sector leaders is really tremendous," Quilter says, "but none of that will matter if they don’t know how to play the game. You have to really study business and learn how to play if you want to be able to apply these skills that you have."

 Marleah Blades is senior editor for the Security Executive Council (, which provides strategy, insight and resources to risk mitigation decision makers. The Council incorporates input from all industry segments into proven practices to provide an array of options that solve pressing issues. With a faculty of more than 100 successful experienced security executives, we work one-on-one with Tier 1 Security Leaders to help them reduce risk and add to corporate profitability in the process. To learn about becoming involved, e-mail