Student Spotlight

Career Talk: Adam Coughran, from police work to entrepreneur

May 11, 2016 by Brandman University
Adam Coughran

Adam Coughran

When Adam Coughran graduated from Chapman University with a degree in political science, he knew he wanted to be a police officer. It wasn’t until he started working on his Master of Arts in organizational leadership (M.A.O.L.) and graduated from Brandman University that he realized that there might be other career options in store. Now he has his own consulting business, Standards Training and Consulting, and works with a variety of companies on a security issues. In this Brandman Speaks: Career Talk podcast, Coughran talks about how his education benefited his career.

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Welcome to Brandman Speaks: Career Talk. In this episode, Adam Coughran talks about his journey from police officer to officer training to entrepreneurship. It’s a transition he doesn’t think he would have made without the Master of Arts in organizational leadership he earned at Brandman University. But before that came a degree in political science from Chapman University.

Adam Coughran: When I graduated Chapman I was tracked right in to being a police officer.

So I graduated in May and I found myself in the police academy in July of the same year.

His focus on law enforcement began to shift after earning his master’s at Brandman, and it wasn’t just what he learned that helped. There were also new connections that proved fortunate.

Coughran: And I got really interested in teaching are really interested in the training and around the same time span I had become a field training officer at my agency and there was an offer to come teach at the police academy I said,’Oh, what a great way to get in.’

And I initially ran into a couple obstacles here and there and had to push and fight my way through but eventually got myself an application and initial job offer to teach it academy.

Well, unbeknownst to me as I go in for my final interview none other than at the time Lt. Toni Bland was sitting behind the desk of the commander’s office and we looked at each other and it was like old times at Brandman. We had gone through the M.A.O.L. program together we’d had classes together. It was like seeing an old friend and we you know we give each other a hug and how have you been and it was very maybe a year or less out of the program.

And everyone standing in a room looking around going who is this guy and why is he hugging our lieutenant? And of course through her podcast and everything, we now know that she’s done, very successfully, very well for herself.

But I would not be tracked as a trainer as an entrepreneur or as an instructor in higher education had it not been for my Brandman connection in the real world.

Field training other officers lead to training opportunities and other industries.

Coughran: You know I started initially my training career as a field training officer, in the field training brand new police officers and through a number of specialty details that I worked and eventually into a college training I found there’s a large need. A lot of people was at were asking me to do training videos, to come speak at conferences, to come train their particular industries. And throughout this, there was a lot of, I start getting honorariums here and there. And I was never asking for money and I never treated it like really a business or an entrepreneur. But eventually my tax man’s like you have to do something yourself. There’s too many, too many 1099 forms that are coming in. And it was through that I go, ‘Well, you know, maybe I should a business license just for a tax purpose.’ I just enjoy teaching. I enjoy training and that has evolved over the last few years now into a full-fledged training company.

Tax advice was the original motive behind starting his own business. But Adam finds that concerns about security are growing both locally and globally.

Coughran: A large global concern now is, what we’re seeing, is the active shooter, the violent intruders, the workplace violence and the terrorism. That by and large, across all offerings, has been the line level of business recently. With acts such as San Bernardino and Brussels and Paris.

Companies are really concern especially in multiple industries that something could happen here. My clients today range from public utilities water and power companies to hospitality hotels to universities, private universities, high schools, private high schools, school districts, Fortune 500 companies, small business, anyone that pretty much has employees and has a storefront somewhere is susceptible to very low line workplace violence all the way up to terrorist events. Throughout the company, both myself included, we have people that either know people that were there firsthand or the people that were there first and actually come out and do some the training, explain from their point of view how some of these events actually unraveled and occurred from the very firsthand point of view and the lessons learned. How do you prevent this in your place of business or in your life?

A lot of it is awareness training. A lot of it is survivability training. So a good chunk of it is let’s try to prevent it before it happens.

Security training is more than protection against workplace violence or terrorism. Sometimes the threat is a financial one.

Coughran: There’s a company locally that’s a hospitality company and they were having a large problem with fraud and forgery. And so what was happening is that they’re getting bookings through their online services, through all their sales outlets, and they were experiencing five and six figures worth of credit card fraud every month.

And it was obviously cutting into the company’s bottom line. So we came in. We trained. We showed them how people steal identities. We brought in the machines that remake and embossed credit cards. We brought in machines to steal identities. In front of their staff, we stole identities in the room, reprinted credit cards, re-encoded credit cards with their information, turned around so that way they could use them right, there in the class. And so they saw what the plastic feels like. What do these things look like. What should I be looking for to try to, you know, change the way that we are accepting payments.

And so through a process of some training some policy writing and a little bit of internal organizational change, we developed the brand new policy and training for all line level personnel for at all the points so as outlets. Within a month, they to the bottom line added $25,000 simply by the reduction of charge backs to their company. And so month over month over month that charge back is now maybe only $100 as opposed to the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

And so it was through a little bit of environmental design, a little bit of organizational design work, a little bit of training and knowledge and skill set of really my team of practitioners, we were able to come together and change the way they did business.

It’s no less hospitable. There’s no less guest service. Scores haven’t gone down, in fact everything’s kind of elevated. And at the end of the day they have more money in their pocket, just based upon a simple set of training and some very simple practices that were put in place.

Adaptability and critical thinking skills grew out of the investment in education he made at Brandman. It’s an investment he recommends.

Coughran: If there’s one investment that at any given time should never doubt or second guess, it would be the investment in yourself and investment in yourself by way education, by way of training, by way of improving yourself. And if you hinged on coming back for a degree of any sorts, or you hinged on taking a class or anything you may be doing, never sacrifice investment in yourself.

It’s probably the one thing I would leave everybody with because the investment in yourself, while you can’t always quantify in dollars and cents, you can quantify in the process, in the people and in your way of life and quality a life after the fact.

Brandman Speaks: Career Talk podcasts are a production of the Communications Department Brandman University, in conjunction with Career Services. More information about the university can be found at

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