Bob Phillips | From a career in banking to a career in security at the Cumming School of Medicine

Growing up on a farm in St. Paul, Alberta, Robert (Bob) Phillips dreamed of being an RCMP officer, but the force had a strict height policy which kept him from being accepted as a recruit.

Author

Kelly Johnston, Cumming School of Medicine

Growing up on a farm in St. Paul, Alberta, Robert (Bob) Phillips dreamed of being an RCMP officer, but the force had a strict height policy which kept him from being accepted as a recruit. “I ended up in banking and with my farming background, working on agriculture related business loans was a perfect fit,” said Bob Phillips, University of Calgary Campus Security Officer at Foothills Campus. 

After 28 years at the Alberta Treasury Branch (ATB), Bob took advantage of an offer by ATB to  work with a career transitioning company where Bob’s dream of working in policing would come back into play. “I wasn’t ready to officially retire; I took a test which showed I had a knack for policing and security, something I’d always had an interest in,” said Bob. “Not long after that my daughter, who was a UCalgary student at the time, mentioned campus security and encouraged me to check it into it.”

Two weeks later, Bob started his second career, and now after 12 years with Campus Security  he can’t imagine being anywhere else. “It’s always fun to come to work.”

Fun because of the people who come through the door looking for help, the students, faculty and staff that strike up conversations and the constant challenges that you can’t plan for but you need to be prepared for.

“One day I had to assist a doctor. A worker was having a heart attack, and we had to administer the Automated External Defibrillator (A.E.D.). We’re trained for these situations, and thankfully, the individual survived.”

Interested in the research being done here, Bob stays informed of opportunities to volunteer for studies and has volunteered for a study himself. “It was the Vitamin D study, it was a three year commitment. I think it’s great that we have this world-class research facility in our city, I want to do what I can to help and to encourage others to participate.”

Bob was also one of the Campus Security members involved in planning the tour for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, working alongside members of Scotland Yard, Canadian Security Intelligence Services (CSIS), RCMP, and the Alberta Sheriffs Branch.

“It was really interesting, even though there were many meetings, some of the security teams would show up unannounced to ask additional questions, tour the routes and rooms and bring sniffer dogs through.”

The majority of Bob’s time at work is spent helping people, which can take many forms; wayfinding, problem solving and assisting them in some way. One time, Bob found himself using all those skills when a retired oncology nurse’s wheelchair broke down.

“I saw her in the hall, her electric wheelchair wasn’t moving, I tried to trouble shoot it, but couldn’t get it running. I couldn’t leave her, so I ended up pushing her (in the 140 kilogram wheelchair) to the east exit where her ride was going to meet her.” Bob also bought her a coffee and a muffin. He still has the thank you letter she wrote. “It was so nice of her to take the time to write that letter. It felt so good to know what I did on the job really mattered to someone. I’ve also been nominated for a U Make A Difference Award, and I’m really honoured that someone took the time to do that for me.”

For Bob, the key to the job is listening and knowing how to de-escalate a situation by simply talking to people. “My dad always said you’re given two ears and one mouth for a reason, to do twice as much listening as talking!”

The person he talks to the most at the Cumming School of Medicine is his co-worker Delores. The two are often seen together, and seem to make the perfect working team.

“It’s been the best 10 years of my life, I work with the best person in the world. It’s just the two of us, one day I’m the supervisor and the next day she is. We laugh about that.”

On Thursday, May 11, watch for the profile on Delores and read what she has to say about being Bob’s co-worker.

Tidbits from Bob

Favorite place to have a coffee or take a break: The fourth floor of the TRW along the windows is a great spot to take a deep breath, and enjoy the view. It’s quiet and private and a perfect spot for a small meeting or coffee/lunch break.

Favorite thing to do when you’re not at work: Spend time with my family. I have two fabulous children and three grandsons. I also love to golf with my wife. We make a great team, and enjoy heading out of town to various golf courses for weekend and summer getaways.

What should the Cumming School of Medicine do in the next 50 years: Keep up cutting edge research and recruiting the high caliber of clinicians and researchers who are driving change to improve our lives.