Women in Security: Eva Mach

Leading companies is second nature for business-savvy integrator
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Monday, December 9, 2019

Eva Mach of Pro-Tec Design, a 100 percent employee-owned company that specializes in security, credits her parents for instilling in her from an early age the absolute conviction that she can be whatever she set her mind to be and her husband with encouraging and supporting her all the way. And, of course, having a baby changes everything!

“I started my career in accounting,” Mach said. “My first job was actually with a parent company of several temporary employment agencies, and I planned to continue working in the corporate accounting field, but after my son was born, I decided that I needed something with more flexibility.”

For the next 16 years, Mach owned and operated a small accounting and consulting business, and in addition to preparing numerous tax returns, she worked with many small businesses as well. “One of my clients was a structured cabling contractor and as that company grew, the owner asked me to take on the controller role, and I agreed,” she said. “The rest, as they say, is history.”

The cabling company continued to expand and eventually decided to add access control, video and fire alarms to its offerings. “In a small company, everyone wears a lot of hats and I found that I had a real passion for helping the operations side of the business in addition to finance and accounting,” Mach discovered and adding that she also loves the constantly changing world of technology.

The company was eventually sold, so Mach joined Pro-Tec Design in the CFO role and in 2016, she took on the roles of president and CEO. “Our mission is to make our world safer by protecting our clients with technology,” Mach recited. “I genuinely believe in our mission and I am passionate about employee ownership. Plus, I get to work with a fantastic group of highly skilled, customer-focused, fun-loving people,” noting that she has been very fortunate in her professional life journey.

Over the years, Mach has worked with many inspiring individuals — men and women — and she has always found learning new things exciting, so she joined professional and industry organizations where she could gain more knowledge. She has also spent a lot of time as the only women in the room, being asked to take notes and occasionally to fetch coffee. However, “I did my homework, came prepared and help my own,” Mach said.

“Maybe I had to work harder to prove myself, but I never thought of it as a burden, just another opportunity to learn.”

Another challenge Mach mentioned, with her background in finance and operations, is that she values technology for its ability to make people’s lives better. “That makes me a bit of an outlier in our industry, where technical background, detailed product knowledge engineering or field experience tent to give automatic ‘creds,’” Mach explained.

However, she has learned to use her background as a strength. “I challenge my staff to ask questions to fully understand the problem they are trying to solve and to present technical information in a way that is understandable to non-technical people; think about the total cost of ownership and build a roadmap, not just sell card readers.”

While the security industry continues to be dominated by men, “specifically white men,” Mach pointed out, there are some very successful women owners and leaders in the industry, many of whom are doing a great job as role models and mentors. But, with security having a traditional connection to the military and police, along with a few women choosing to fight for entry into the male-dominated world of security technicians is where we are today still, according to Mach.

“My company, Pro-Tec Design, employed four women in traditional administrative and accounting roles 10 years ago,” Mach explained. “Today, we added four women in sales, two in product management and one in engineering. While I am proud of our ability to attract new people to the industry, we have made no progress on the technician side.” Perhaps this is because the security industry has a difficult time attracting young people into trades of all kinds.

“The years of touting a four-year degree as the only way to success have not served us well,” Mach said. “The security industry needs to do a better job of reaching out to young people, working with high school counselors and technical schools to get graduates of diverse backgrounds — males and females — excited about the work we do and see the path to a financially secure and personally satisfying career path.”

As most economists will say, diversity and inclusion are good for the economy and business overall. “Diversity exists; inclusion is a choice,” Mach pointed out. “The security industry needs to do more to promote inclusion and attract diverse talent; it will make us stronger.”

Mach offered the following advice to those considering the security industry: “If you have a passion for making our world safer, love the fast pace of technology and are curious about how things work and what can be done better, think about joining our industry. Fine a mentor; join professional organizations; commit to lifelong learning.”