'20 under 40' 2014—Sarah Jennings
Sarah Jennings, 31
COO, QuickPass, Scottsdale, Ariz.
What inspired you to get into the security industry?
Right out of college I worked in commercial real estate, but then the real estate market took a dump in Arizona. My father offered me a job here. The family business aspect was the biggest draw to working in security. Security is not an industry people generally want to get into. It’s not like people say, “Wow, I want to sell alarm systems.” I came to work here [at Safeguard], reluctantly at that time, as I thought I was settling. … It turns out it was the best decision I ever made! I started with residential sales and [my career] took off from there. It’ll be six years in November.
What can be done to boost the ranks of young people in the industry?
People my age are driven to technology. That’s one of the best parts of my job: I’m constantly around technology. People don’t want to sell alarm systems; they want to sell cool stuff. One area I think a lot of [security] manufacturers have missed the boat on is in not making the product really cool. Maybe [manufacturers] should be doing focus groups that include young people. In general, companies will have to start thinking outside the box, both in technology and RMR services, to attract younger people to the industry.
Where, in terms of technology and trends, do you see the security industry going next?
I think smartphones are critical. If you can manage or control any [aspect of a security system] from a smartphone, that’s crucial. That’s what we do at QuickPass, a [proprietary] gated access visitor management system that we now have in seven states. We use smartphones. Our device security officers use to check visitors in on is a Samsung Galaxy Note (granted, it runs on an actual app), but we use VOIP technology to call residents for visitor approval. … We also integrate multiple systems into QuickPass. We use Panasonic cameras, monitored through Milestone, and we’re looking to go to the cloud on that.