Top Five Skills

A new occupation has entered the workforce. COVID Compliance Officer (CCO), in which they monitor, advise and apply safe executable procedures for major media production companies and event organizers to ensure compliance is being overseen with production protocols in order to sustain a successful lifecycle. This position has too often been filled with unqualified individuals that have no experience with risk management, with production companies trying to get projects back on track on the cheap by hiring Production Assistants (PA) to be their Compliance Officer. With these PA’s they are either tasked with wiping hot spots down or having crew members wear a mask thinking that’s all it is. Often afraid to correct the cast or senior crew members in fear of job security or wanting to make a good impression to get hired for another project that will help them come one step closer to their dream job in the   world. The CCO should be a person that has past experience with risk mitigation, a passion for keeping people safe, and skills to ensure each project is completed safely.

But what skills does one need to be an effective COVID Compliance Officer? With qualifications still yet to be defined in the industry, employers must be able to identify key personality competencies that will lead to the safety and success of their project. A COVID Compliance Officer whether its at a sporting event, concert, conference or media production must have the following five skills:

1. Conceptual Skills

A CCO must be able to think through complex problems and develop a real solution by applying their conceptual skills. Using imagination, ingenuity and creativity. Whether it’s an event planner or an executive producer, all parties want to create the most natural pre-pandemic environment for the success of their production. They must however do this with a safety first mindset, the task at hand needs to be creatively successful but not at the expense of compromising those in attendance. Being a CCO means understanding the complexities of CDC recommendations, venue protocols, relevant local laws, and executive orders that are ever changing to help develop a safe solution and maximize success.

2. Assertiveness

A Compliance Officer must be able to assert themselves in a respectful and tactful manner. The Compliance Officer has to be a leader, effectively delivering the inspiring vision of the future and inspires people to engage that vision. As a CCO you are often met with nonconformists. Those who may not believe in the standards of conduct may have to be persuaded, that is in their best interest, and the interests of everyone for the greater good. Those attending an event, or in the film industry at one point were sitting locked in their home except for essential runs to the store, but now they have the opportunity to go to work, or attend a gathering. Being assertive and persuasive of those who may not want to follow the rules takes courage, and those are invaluable skills to being a CCO.

3. Firm Understanding of the Risk Management Process

The ability to understand the risk management process is invaluable to a CCO. It is your day to day operational guide. A CCO must be able to conceive and forecast unforeseen risks in an uncertain environment. The process of identifying potential risks, quickly quantifying them to express them to senior management, then providing an adequate response to the risk with a real plan that aligns with the companies protocols, is paramount. A CCO cannot be someone just enforcing  personnel to wear a mask. It is imperative that they have formal training that progressively adjusts their decision making in alignment with risk mitigation procedures to ensure that their project is able to finish safely and successfully without a potential outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, while still enabling operations.

4. Duty Driven

The person that is in charge of the safety and care of a production crew or attendees of an event must be compelled by their self obligated sense of duty. A self aware motivation to the ethical responsibility they must have in protecting those around them from the COVID-19 virus. A logical moral sense of right and wrong that will guide them to holding others responsible on their watch. Not because they are being paid to do it, but because they know a corrective action must be taken or planned in order to guarantee the safety of those under their watch. This sense of duty cannot be bought with a $50 certification but must be a core characteristic of the COVID Compliance Officer that is overseeing the safety of those that are in their care.

5. De-escalation and conflict resolution

If an individual is going to be placed into a position of authority that oversees the safety of other persons they must have formal training in de-escalation and conflict resolution. Just as much as they must be able to assert themselves they must also be able to guide a person that is unwilling to comply with COVID protocols into a resolved state without any form of elevated tension, aggression, or violence. CCO’s must know how to employ their personal space, body language and listening skills to effectively de escalate any situation with the ultimate goal of the agitated persons complying by the safety procedures set in place for them and those they are around to avoid any chance of coming into contact with the virus or becoming a close-contact putting them in a position where they must quarantine.

There is something to be said with brilliance in the basics. This role started with the media production world leaning on the risk management industry to find solutions, and support projects. Those who have truly defined themselves as leaders in a CCO role have done so by focusing and mastering the basics. Experience has shown that major events and productions need CCOs with leadership and risk management experience. Personnel that have the mental stamina to sustain long, complex, high stress operations for days at a time, who develop themselves, onboard new information, and work to become knowledgeable in the field accomplish their objectives safely. Those who just walk around asking people to put masks on, are not CCOs, they are marshals or event safety personnel.


This article was written by Austin Hansen who was one of the early pioneers in the film industry specializing in COVID-19 Risk Management for major film productions across CONUS protecting celebrities and film crew. Austin has helped establish ETS Risk Management as a COVID-19 risk specialist and regularly assists Fortune 500 companies, event management teams, as well as production teams to facilitate and support their operations.