Women in Security: Janet Fenner, 'know the product'

Gender diversity may be enhanced by SIA’s efforts
Wednesday, November 5, 2014

RIDGEFIELD PARK, N.J.—Janet Fenner, senior marketing group manager for Samsung Techwin America, drifted into security early in her career. Fenner was doing marketing for a company that went through several acquisitions. “Along the way I ended up working in a [physical security division] that specialized in identity,” she said.

She made a conscious decision to stay in the security industry several years ago when she took her first job at Samsung. “I heard that [former head of Samsung Techwin America] Frank De Fina was interviewing and thought this was a chance to launch my career. I said: ‘Count me in,’” Fenner said.

Fenner said she likes going to trade shows and meeting customers. “I absolutely love working on ‘Voice of the Customer’ [projects],” she said. “You find out ‘here is a problem, here is how [Samsung] is going to solve it then you have to figure out the marketing around that.”

How can women advance their careers in security? “Like any other industry, you have to know your target, know the product, what you’re selling and who you’re selling it to. And you have to be technical enough to talk shop,” Fenner said.

Fenner said she’s been energized by recent announcements that Samsung made at ASIS, specifically, it’s new Open Platform, which meets partners can write apps to the camera using standard APIs.  “I do enjoy seeing the camera leap forward as a vehicle for more than surveillance.”

Fenner would like to see more gender diversity in security, and she’d like to see women in roles other than marketing in security. The problem is that there’s no defined career path into security. And many of the common career paths such as being an installer or technician also have a dearth of women.

“There’s no real pull for women to get into the industry,” she said.

That may be changing she noted, as the result of the Security Industry Association’s Mercer College initiative, where this community college is launching a security degree program and providing special incentives through scholarships for women.

“SIA is doing a great job. It’s a great way to open up the industry to women who don't even know it exists,” she said.