End Users '20 under 40' 2014—David Avedikian
David Avedikian, 39
Supervisor of project development, Southwest Airlines, Dallas
Avedikian manages physical security installations and maintains those systems for Southwest Airlines. “Anything technologically related to security is the type of project I manage.” From Southwest’s headquarters to maintenance hangars, airports, call centers, cargo warehouses and more, he and his team members “have a rather large footprint,” he says.
What inspired you to get into the security industry?
I’ve always been a fan of all things legal. I thought of pursuing the criminal justice route, but technology has always been my strong suit. I started at Southwest in ’97 as a level-one support technician and eventually moved up to technical project manager for our airports. Corporate security opened a technical position at the right time in my career and I made the transition. Security is never a place I thought I would find myself because in the past you needed police or military experience for this kind of job. But having a technical background is becoming almost as important as risk assessment knowledge. The gap between physical security and technology has narrowed dramatically over the last decade. Southwest realized the importance of technology.
If you could have any technology you wanted, without regard to budget, what would it be?
Security and convenience don’t mix. I would love to see that change. There will always be some element of inconvenience, but I would love to see that gap close. Whether it’s facial recognition, RFID technology, or more seamless systems … I would love to create a safer environment for our employees and visitors without impacting our culture. I strive to make it more convenient for them to be where they need to be while minimizing risk. Our culture is a treasured thing for Southwest.
What’s your biggest physical security challenge today, and what do you think it will be five years from now?
Our biggest challenge is airport camera installations. When you add the element of secured areas bound by TSA regulations, things tend to get messy and drawn out. We typically hang cameras on our jet bridges. We like to see the business side of the aircraft, so we like cameras hanging on the outside of the airport. But that’s restricted space, and in order to get a technician to do this work, we have to get him badged and background-checked and then there are scheduling issues. In the future, access control maintenance will be the biggest challenge. We are in the midst of converting old systems to new as well as exponentially expanding and each portal has a list of parts and electronics that will need attention eventually. We are extremely cost-conscious; so we usually try to do more with less, but we have to stay ahead of the maintenance curve. Lock and key won’t ever go away, but electronic access control is growing steadily for us.