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security director

RNC security director Al Concordia on planning for the event

Concordia and Tampa police official tell Security Director News how the $50 million budget for the event was spent

TAMPA, Fla—Tampa is a regular locale for major sporting events that draw huge crowds, but Major Brian Dugan of the Tampa Police Department told Security Director News that the Republican National Convention “is the largest event and the highest security event we’ve ever had.”

Alcohol number one campus security risk

Friday, November 11, 2011

So just returned from a visit with the Randy Nichols, the director of safety and security at Bowdoin College up here in Maine. It's always great to sit down with a director, one-on-one, and really hear some of the issues he or she faces on a daily basis.

We discussed a variety of concerns including some of the hot topics like active shooters and IP camera systems, but when asked what his most significant concern was, the answer was alcohol. Now, I went to college, I remember how prevalent alcohol was for those of any age, but for some reason it never clicked that alcohol was such a direct security concern. Prior to his role as director, Nichols spent 27 years with the Maine State Police and said that nearly every incident he investigated, whether it was a car accident, assault or robbery, was directly associated with alcohol. And those concerns followed him into his current role. He said that all his officers are specifically trained in alcohol awareness, which makes so much sense, but it just had never occurred to me as a substantial part of a security training program. We all have our ah ha moments, I guess.

Nichols also discussed some unique initiatives he has developed for his security program including creating a career ladder for his officers. In order to move to the next level (and the next pay stage, I'm assuming) officers are required to be active in an ongoing community project. Nichols explained that while this initiative is required for career progression, officers can design their own program and choose how they want to be involved in the college community. For example, one officer is involved in the outing club and is working toward his wilderness guide certification, side-by-side with students. Nichols said this initiative gets officers directly involved with students and helps to break down the barrier between security and students. That is pretty much Nichols message as director: He wants students to feel like they can approach him and his officers and aren't afraid security is out to get them. To ensure students know who he is, Nichols meets with every incoming freshman in a small group setting during orientation.

In other interesting news, Bowdoin will be unveiling a new one card system which they will be activating over the winter holiday. To learn more about this, be sure to check out our January issue.

Away with logic and other advice for security professionals in retail

Monday, April 4, 2011

By Joe Davis, director of loss prevention for T-Mobile USA.

Having served in retail for 19 years, I’m not big on endorsing vendors or third-party products. The cardinal rule of showing complete objectivity when it comes to outside companies has been deeply engrained in me. Yet, I’m about to share with you rave reviews of the Wharton/ASIS Program for Security Executives: Making the Business Case for Security, which I recently attended. I am making this exception because in doing so, I believe there is enormous benefit to be gained by my peers. This course delivered such a new perspective and practical insights that I believe living by them can advance security in organizations to a whole new level. For my part, I feel as though I went from zero to Ivy League MBA in 10 days. So what exactly, you might ask, did I learn that was so valuable?

Not New Information, But A New Perspective
The program that I attended is the Wharton/ASIS Program for Security Executives: Making the Business Case for Security, or as I like to refer to it, Wharton’s Executive Bootcamp for Chief Security Officers. Like any executive business program, it is designed to lay a foundation for individuals in business who may not have a comprehensive understanding of all the different functional areas. As you would expect, the program is broken down into several different areas: strategic thinking, leadership, essentials of finance, fundamentals of marketing and a few more. My expectation was to walk in and learn an extensive amount of new information about the functional areas to which I am not typically exposed to in my career. Walking out, I realized that the greatest achievement was taking things that I already knew and refining my understanding of the application of these things into my business in a day-to-day process.

While the program is called, Wharton/ASIS Program for Security Executives: Making the Business Case for Security, there is absolutely no material on security presented. A clever approach by Wharton. Why would they need to teach security experts about security? What they want to do is teach security experts how to most successfully achieve their goals in the whole business environment. I did not necessarily learn new information; what I learned was how to look at my job from a new perspective. Think about the difference in climbing into a helicopter and taking an aerial tour of the Grand Canyon as opposed to experiencing it as a hiker at the bottom of the canyon. Let me tell you, the perspective is starkly different.

Here are some examples of insights I took away from the program that you can bring to your organization as well.

The Need To Define Strategy Differently
Think of how many different books and articles are written on strategy: what it is, how to define it, how to create it. At Wharton, they teach that the definition of strategy is simple: “A plan to win.” Too often, business executives focus on strategy as a process: A means to an end rather than the end itself. But strategy is ultimately about achieving outcomes. In security, that means reducing losses, expanding the revenue model, increasing sales, or any other number of enterprise business objectives. If you don’t infuse your team with the ultimate goal, strategy quickly digresses into the realm of implementing tactics, with focus lost on winning. We don’t want participation trophies, we want championship trophies.

Too often we are overcome with the process that may hold us captive. At Wharton they encourage the development and implementation of a sound business strategy, but, more importantly they stress the critical nature of defining what winning looks like to you and your business. In my business today winning is hitting key financial metrics as well as the overall protection of the assets of my company. Taking strategy out of the visionary realm and placing it into the tactile world of specific outcomes will drive ownership and accountability within your business.

Logic is not always the best tool
Security professionals have a tendency to respect logic above all else. After all, it’s essential to success in our own jobs. We have to follow a path of facts to their logical conclusion to identify and solve problems. And while logic is a critical tool in security, it is not always the best tool when working with other functional areas in the organization.
Sit down. This isn’t going to be easy. But sometimes you have to let go of logic and focus on relationships. While it might sound eerily like something off of the Oprah Winfrey show, it’s the truth. When it comes to getting buy-in from different groups or winning over skeptics to your way of thinking, logic is not necessarily the most effective tool. It is true for communities, families, businesses and any human network: people do things for people they know and like. Asking for a favor as a friend is likely to yield better, quicker results than trying to enforce action through formal channels. What does this mean for security professionals? Well, it means getting out and getting exposure to colleagues across the organization and interfacing with them on a regular basis. Often, security professionals limit their exposure to executive leadership and other functional areas unless it’s required by a specific project or event. This is often done in the name of efficiency. So when security needs or wants something, they are reduced to delivering dry arguments for action, which produce little enthusiasm and gain a paltry following. An investment in colleagues and relationships is an investment in your strategy.

Let’s say you want to change the way you are protecting a distribution center and want to increase guard coverage. Many times, a security professional will pull together a plan and give a list of reasons why additional guards are needed. But without relationships, the executives see you as a walking blank check. Knowing you personally, and the value you are adding, and what you are trying to accomplish for the organization, makes accepting your proposal much easier, a more personal affair.

How to Ask for Money

Our instructor for this session, John R. Percival, PhD is a professor of finance at Wharton. Dr. Percival provided some excellent case studies on building shareholder value within your business. His real life examples and engaging delivery had me more interested in Finance than I thought was actually possible. Asking for budget dollars in the security realm is a tedious annual process that is many times bane of a CSO’s existence. I learned that it’s easier to ask for funding if you can do it in a manner that drives value into your organization by delivering the message in the language of the finance team. Shift your focus from asking about financing for your project to telling how your project will positively impact financials. This is about communicating in the language of your audience. Instead of asking for money and justifying why it should be spent, position your projects in light of the value they will drive to the bottom line: the reduction in loss, the savings in personnel, the increase in time spent focusing on the customer.

Security is often pigeon-holed as a cost center, when in reality it can and should be marketed as a competitive advantage. Think about how security positively impact the business. For example, by mitigating risk, the company can deploy more stores in the market. By reducing shrink, the business can invest in growth initiatives. By streamlining operations to reduce loss, security improves efficiency and helps save labor costs. It’s easy for security professionals to focus on what’s inside their area instead of focusing on their true impact to the outside organization.

Prepare for Meetings
“Really?” you’re asking. “Prepare for meetings?” It seems obvious, but amidst the frantic pace of business today, think of how inefficient most meetings are. How many times have you been to a meeting at a set time and the only preparation time you have is the time it takes from you to walk from the last meeting into the next? The executive course really delves into the value of being prepared for meetings. The prepared person is more effective at gaining their expected outcome than the person with no agenda. It’s a small, seemingly unimportant concept, but the result of poor preparedness is simply that all your time spent in meetings gets thrown down the drain. When you think about how many meetings you have each week, that’s a significant loss.

In Conclusion: Escape out of the security silo
In short, the big lesson I learned was how to avoid getting caught up in the security silo and how to start viewing my work as a program that aligns with the company’s strategy. I know that what I am doing in security is helping the organization achieve its goals, but often I reduce my programs to tactical plans that I fail to communicate to others in the organization on a regular basis.

Security is its own animal. It’s not like sales or marketing and will not be treated like those things. In some ways, it’s the least understood function in the organization. Therefore, our job of explaining how security supports the overall strategy of the organization is much harder than it is for others. We have to look for points of integration as opposed to points of differentiation. The good news is that as security professionals, we have many strengths that we can leverage to better communicate our messages and objectives. We know people. We understand interviewing and picking up on body language and other clues. We can easily tell how people are responding to our interaction. Use this skill to guide you when presenting proposals and communicating with others.

The program’s academic director, Mario Moussa, told us, “Reality is a liquid, not a solid.” It’s the truth. In the security world, we pine for a firm foundation from which to work. We must learn to be willing to step into the liquid and immerse ourselves in the fluid reality in which business exists. We have to gain flexibility outside of the self assurance that we have developed in our specialty over the years and recognize that there is a different way to doing things. Failure to do so limits our success and that of our companies.

Joe Davis is a director of loss prevention for T-Mobile USA. He manages a team of corporate and field level investigators focused on enhancing profitability within the enterprise. Joe’s team is responsible for all internal and external operational improvement and investigative programs in the business. Since joining T-Mobile in 2008 Joe has designed and implemented numerous cutting edge programs from risk mitigation in the retail stores, to reducing operational expenses by $30MM.

Securing Ground Zero: Reconstruction of the World Trade Center


NEW YORK—From a 20-story vantage point, the reconstruction of the World Trade Center site is especially humbling. The two massive footprints of the former Twin Towers stand out as stark reminders of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Definitive Evolution: The Rise of the Security Director

Thursday, October 7, 2010

By Ray O’Hara, executive VP, International Operations and C&I
Andrews International

The role of the security director has changed dramatically over the past decades. An evolution has occurred that often now places these individuals in the C-suite, working alongside top company executives in an effort to not just protect and preserve assets, but to further business plans and increase the bottom line. It’s a far cry from the security director’s past realm, best summed up as “gates, guards and guns.”

Then, security meant “keeping the bad guys from jumping over the fence,” and if the physical aspects of a program weren’t deterrent enough, the next step was to make the fence higher. With theft and other illegal activity a concern, former police officers were most often placed at the helm of corporate security. Yet, they were often tasked with handling complex investigations that local police departments were too busy to handle, despite a lack of training. If “classified” work or information was involved, security managers were primarily culled from the government, there being some reassurance in knowing these candidates once had “clearance.” As for security technology, it was considered overhead – rudimentary CCTV, badge systems, parking lot lighting – choices were limited and the focus was to keep these costs as low as possible.
During those times, a security director was not a standalone career. There was no upward growth or lateral professional movement. Advanced industry-specific training and education was minimal. When an economic strain occurred in a company, these individuals were often the first to be removed from the payroll. Due to a lack of succession planning, a replacement would eventually be found as budget restraints allowed. However, they would possess similar skills, fulfill an equally narrow job description, and continued to remain isolated from the rest of the company.

Today’s security director is nearly unrecognizable in comparison and significance. What spurred this evolution was the end of a “siloed” view of security. Once perceived as limited in function, business leaders have learned the security director is a vital tool in an age of commerce marked by the rapid development of a global marketplace, increased competition, economic pressures, tremendous technological advances and more. Nearly all areas of a business can benefit from the integration of security and the director has become the essential leader in risk management across the entire enterprise. They have become a much-valued member of the “total” organization – a highly skilled individual with a defined role that can influence a company’s future.

For example, security not only can prevent loss and theft of production materials for a manufacturer, it can ensure supply lines are operating smoothly and identify weaknesses. Through this, products make it to market on time - perhaps preventing customer and/or consumer backlash – while supporting sales efforts. If the company is expanding manufacturing operations into Mexico through a merger, security can conduct due diligence to assess risks and plan accordingly, while identifying ways to cost-effectively strengthen operations. In this case, activities could involve investigating the true position of the business being acquired, background checks on its leaders and partners, assessing infrastructure and procedural weaknesses, and of course, planning for the safety of personnel who will face very real threats of drug-related violence and kidnapping.

This all falls under the auspices of today’s security director, who could also be enlisted in company marketing, entailing visits to key customers to reassure them that this expansion is secure and in their mutual interest. At the same time, this individual could be overseeing an identity system for the global enterprise based on a single badge, facilitating worker mobility, safety and greater security tracking.

Even so, the security director always needs to anticipate and proactively plan against mistakes that can cost a business in other ways. Recently, a prototype handheld device was left at a restaurant and made its way into the hands of an influential blogger. This jeopardized efforts the company made in research and development, as well as marketing and public relations aimed at cultivating the brand. Human error is always a wild-card, but in the end, a Security Director role is to have in place controls to prevent that from occurring.

Clearly, the evolution of the security director has come with a host of additional responsibilities. Candidates must be aligned with their company’s goals and integrate security to support these with an enterprise-wide view – yet never lose sight of the details. They must possess broad business knowledge ranging from markets to budgetary concerns to the impact of such things as media exposure. They must be able to speak a common language with peers, and whereas they are now called into the C-suite, they must do so exhibiting a level of control that empowers an organization to pursue business plans. In short, the security director position is no longer about consolidation; keeping costs and involvement to a minimum. Instead, the role requires focus on convergence, an eye for how security can work within all areas of an enterprise and add to the bottom line.

In less than a decade, security job listings requiring Certified Protection Professional certification has nearly doubled. Involvement in industry and professional associations, and continued education, has become the rule of thumb. This increased professionalism has made the security director a “talent,” an individual whose input is aggressively sought by the C-suite. This evolution has also been accompanied by rewards. A Foushee Group Security Salary Study conducted in 2009 showed sharp rises in average earnings: $110,840 for Corporate Security Program Managers ranging to $263,960 for Global Security Executives. That is a big change from a position once considered expendable.

Evolution is defined as “a gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form.” The security director, once viewed as “overhead,” is now embraced by the C-suite for the support they bring to the entire enterprise, the positive impact they have on the bottom line, and their ability to influence the future. The security director has not only adapted to change, they have risen to challenges and thrived, exhibiting a definitive evolution that has elevated our entire industry.

Ray O’Hara, CPP, is executive vice president of International Operations and Consulting and Investigations for Andrews International, the largest privately-owned U.S. full-service provider of security and risk mitigation services. With more than 30 years experience, O’Hara has established and overseen security programs across the globe for leading providers and major corporations. O’Hara is currently the President-Elect of ASIS International’s Board of Directors.

GW appoints security czar to unify security program


WASHINGTON—After George Washington University underwent a safety and security analysis last spring, it was determined that the school needed to consolidate its security programs. In order to achieve such an initiative, the college created a new security position and on June 7 appointed Darrell Darnell as senior associate vice president for safety and security.

White noise

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I bet you have all heard by now: During the Patriots-Colts game on Sunday, there were some suspicious sounds heard in the RCA Dome. Some suspected the team was piping crowd noise in to distract their opponents.
And if you are concerned with this kind of potential fraud, who do you call?
Well, Patriots President Jonathon Kraft complained to NFL vice president of security Milt Ahlerich.
The NFL promptly investigated the incident and cleared the Colts from any wrongdoing, stating an "unusual audio moment" was the result of CBS tape feedback (You can make your on judgment here).
The reason I am posting this (I promise from here on out I will limit my football references for the remainder of the REGULAR season) is that this incident shows the how varied the scope of a security practitioner's job can be. And how mainstream it continues to become.