UCL News


Spotlight on Oliver Curran

6 February 2014

This week the spotlight is on Oliver Curran, Deputy Security Manager, UCL Estates.

Oliver Curran

What is your role and what does it involve?

I am the Deputy Security Manager here at UCL. Along with Mark West (UCL Security Manager), I manage a large team within the facilities department. This consists of professional security personnel across UCL Estates, covering roles such as building attendants, patrol officers, administrators, control room operators, etc.

Officially my main role is to ensure the safety and security of all of UCL's students, staff and visitors. However, ensuring that their security is achieved and maintained, whilst providing a readily accessible and permeable estate poses numerous daily challenges.

Another large part of my role is to constantly assess, question and improve the way our team perform their duties at UCL. In order to continually improve our service, it is very important to speak to our customers.

This has led me to give numerous presentations to staff and students alike. I have also recently created our Twitter account (@UCLSecurity) as I am always looking for ways to get our messages out to the UCL population.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I have been at UCL for six years. I initially started on a one-year contract as cover for my predecessor who was on maternity leave. When she decided not to return, the opportunity came for me to apply to join UCL full-time and I was successful during the interview process using my gift of the gab and boyish good looks!

My main role before UCL was as the contract security manager at HSBC. I spent the first six years working my way up from Security Officer to Contract Manager of their various buildings in the City of London, before spending the next four years as the Contract Security Manager at their HQ, the HSBC Tower in Canary Wharf. 

I also worked for a short time as a Security Manager at the London Eye and managed a security website before coming to UCL. My job title there was webmaster. Not as sexy as Jedi Master but no doubt the closest I'll ever come to that title!

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

One of the great aspects of working at UCL is that people around me are always willing to listen to my ideas. I have always enjoyed 'problem solving', meaning I have made many changes to the way the department is run. So a lot of my achievements tend to lie in the procedures/policies aspect of the department.

Personally, though, I would say my greatest achievement at UCL has been the relationships I have created both inside and outside of our walls for the greater good of the university. 

Since first starting at UCL, I have been busy building relationships with the police and crime-reducing groups in Camden, and sit on many of their panels, meaning that UCL's concerns are brought up directly at these senior level meetings. 

I have also built up some great relationships with people in similar roles to myself in other higher education institutions in order to swap ideas and assist each other where needed. 

Mark West and I recently spent a day with a member of the security management team from the National University of Singapore, and last year undertook a security site visit to Oxford University - followed by the obligatory Inspector Morse pub tour, I believe!

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list?

In my career as a magician before joining security, I learnt how to spin plates, and this is a skill that is certainly required in my role here as there are always several projects going on at once. However, the most important to me at the moment is our plan to introduce a lone worker/personal safety alarm device system across UCL.

I have been looking into, trialling and now rolling out personal safety alarm devices, which are basically a 'help in your pocket' device. The press of a button on the device (which is the size of an electric car key) can instantly call the UCL Emergency Security phone number (or an external Alarm Response Centre).

A two-way conversation can then take place and assistance can be instantly dispatched. The benefit of being able to contact either UCL Security or an external Alarm Centre is that the device can be used nationwide and not just within our grounds. It also houses a GPS tracker, so that once the alarm is pressed, your exact location can be seen on a map by the operator. 

There is also a pre-determined escalation procedure that will be shown to the operator so they can see who has pressed it and what their issue may be, e.g. a lone working student/member of staff, an elderly member of staff, someone who has been harassed, someone with a medical condition, etc. 

The device has many uses for many different users, but we just want to make sure that whoever has one knows that we are there to help them if they need us at the touch of a button.

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

Album: I tend not to buy albums these days and just download the odd song here and there, mostly for my kids - meaning I have a few One Direction songs on my iPhone, but that's just for the kids, honest!

For my all-time favourite album, I'd probably have to venture back to 1986 for my favourite group Big Country's album, The Seer. I was in my mid-teens and while all of my friends were listening to the usual 80s dross, I was the only one I knew listening to this band and this album (to me) still sounds good today.

Film: I have always been a huge film fan, although thanks to my kids, spend more time reading about them than actually watching them these days. My favourite film, I guess, is Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Love Clint, love westerns and love epics, so this has them all. I got to see it on the big screen recently at the BFI and my wife came along to see what all the fuss was about. I think she liked it?

Novel: For the last few years I have been rather obsessed with A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series that Game of Thrones is based on, much to the annoyance of friends and family as that was all I was talking about for some time. Having read all seven of the books now I would say that they are all as great as each other. I was lucky enough to meet the author, George R. R. Martin last year at the Bloomsbury Theatre. Just counting the days now till the next book comes out!

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

Being an Irishman, I hope I can get away with this one as it seems to sum up my attitude toward drinking, religion and patience:

An Irishman was flustered at not being able to find a parking space in a large, busy car park. "Lord," he prayed, "I can't stand this. If you open a space up for me, I swear I'll give up drinking, and I promise to go to church every Sunday."

Suddenly, the clouds parted and the sun shone on an empty parking spot. Without hesitation, the man said, "Never mind, I found one."

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

For the humour, I would invite Billy Connolly, Peter Kay and Tyrion Lannister. Entertainment would be provided by Keith Lemon. 

To cook the food, I would invite Colonel Sanders and to provide the liquid refreshments I would invite Arthur Guinness.

And in case the neighbours got annoyed with the noise, I'd invite Bruce Lee, Inspector Harry Callahan, Wolverine and Obi-Wan Kenobi.

What advice would you give your younger self?

There is nothing in my life that I would do differently as every experience (good and bad) has made me who I am, which has led me to meet some amazing people who have got me involved in some epic adventures! 

So the only thing I would say to the young Mr C. is: buckle up son, it's gonna be fun! Either that or: don't invest in a Philips CD-i when the Sony Playstation has just been released! I'll never see that money again.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

You can have three: 

1. That I have a BSc (Hons) in Quantity Surveying, something I worked very hard to get. Although I chose not to pursue that career path, the whole university experience was one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling of my life, or

2. That I received a Bravery Award for actions taken in the London Riots on 19 June 1999, or

3. That I am the son of an Irish farmer! My parents own and run a cattle farm in West Ireland, where I was born-in a hospital though, not a barn!

What is your favourite place?

Anywhere where I am with my wife and kids tends to be my favourite place. But if we are talking about a specific location then that'll be the village of Cornamona, Co. Galway, Ireland where my parents, brother and his young family live.

I try to get back there a couple of times a year with my wife and kids as it is the de-stress capital of the world! But in between trips back home and family aside, I guess having a drink with the AHP Fellowship (a group of other fun-loving professionals from around UCL) on a Friday evening will do for now!