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‘20 under 40’ end users work to build security success

Badging, cultural challenges among top issues, they say at TechSec2015
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02/25/2015

DELRAY BEACH, Fla.—It’s difficult to raise risk awareness among employees when everyone thinks everything is going just fine. Achieving security autonomy across different types of businesses that fall under one banner with almost 30,000 employees is difficult, too.

Vivint and Undercover Boss: Lessons learned

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Vivint CEO Todd Pedersen wasn’t “fast enough” to work in one of his own warehouses, was “moving a little slow” on an installation job and should have been more adept at handling a basic tool, according to two of his  employees.

Pedersen got those professional reviews during his stint on the CBS show “Undercover Boss” on Feb. 20. I wrote about that here. During that experience, he says, he learned much about being a company leader and that “details matter most.”

For the popular reality show, Pedersen posed incognito, which included wearing a wig, as a Vivint trainee and met with four of his company’s employees at their workplaces.

First he worked with Mark on an install job that involved being up on a roof. That encounter enlightened him on the need for Vivint workers to have proper, non-slippery footwear.

He then worked with a monitoring center rep, Sandy. Pedersen, handling a call, disconnected it inadvertently. During one call, static was prevalent and Sandy told Pedersen that the system needed some fine-tuning.

On his third stint he worked at one of the company’s warehouses with Alma and was surprised when he had to fill out a work order on paper rather than digitally. Alma is the employee who told him he wasn’t suited to work for Vivint: “Too slow.”

He also was told he was working too slowly by employee Will during Pedersen’s final “Undercover Boss” gig at a smart-home installation. And, Will added, Pedersen needed practice working with a basic tool—a drill.

When I talked to Pedersen before the show aired, he couldn’t say all that much about the outcome of the show due to CBS restrictions. But I did catch up with him via email this week to get more details.

Here’s what Pedersen had to say.

Q: What was the top lesson you gleaned from being on the show?

A: As a leader, it’s your job to look at the big picture and focus on the vision of the company, but I learned that when it comes to employees, the details matter most. The smallest upgrades in equipment and installation hardware can shave off significant amounts of time and stress for employees. Little things really do make a big difference to the people you employ.

Q: How will the show have an impact on the way your company is run/managed in the future?

A: After each day on a new job [for the show], I would get on a conference call with senior management and discuss what I learned and potential improvements pertaining to that job. And while the experience hasn’t changed the way we run the company in a major way, we have made several changes in equipment and processes. 

The most significant change we implemented was announcing a brand-new facility for our monitoring professionals. As I worked alongside Sandy, she had interference issues with her equipment. In addition to improving phone cords and headsets for Sandy and her coworkers, we decided to give them a beautiful new facility. 

Q: Any other insights? Would you do this again?

A: The most interesting part was just being able to work alongside my employees as a regular guy, rather than the CEO. I truly enjoyed getting to know each of them on a personal level and learning about their backgrounds and the things they’ve overcome. I’ve always believed in cultivating strong relationships with my employees, and this experience reaffirmed the importance of that for me.

While not every executive has the chance to go undercover like I did, taking the time to work side by side and connect with employees is important for all members of the leadership team. I plan to give this opportunity to other executives so they can benefit from the invaluable insight that comes from being on the ground. (Although, I won’t make any of them wear a wig!)

I don’t think I could get away with going undercover again. Word has definitely gotten out around the company, but I did really enjoy going out in the field and working with employees across the business. I would definitely do that again, and I’ll probably take some of our other executives along with me next time. 

Pedersen also heard the four employees’ personal stories and responded to their hardships—widowhood, bankruptcy, cancer treatments, custody disagreements and more—with compassion and with his wallet. Kudos to him.

 

 

Vivint boss goes undercover

TV show experience offers insights
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02/18/2015

PROVO, Utah—Vivint CEO Todd Pedersen’s incognito stint on “Undercover Boss” prompted him to make some “tweaks” in his business, he said.

NewsPoll: SSN readers debate the utility of CES home automation gadgets

Should toasters text? Fourteen percent call it a good idea
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02/18/2015

YARMOUTH, Maine—Home automation gadgets coming out of the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show are interesting, but discretion might be needed before some go too far, according to Security Systems News readers responding to our latest NewsPoll.

ADT puts muscle, aka Ving Rhames, into ad campaign

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

BOCA RATON, Fla.—He had commanding roles in “Pulp Fiction” and “Mission Impossible” and starred in HBO’s “Don King: Only in America.” Now award-winning actor Ving Rhames is putting his tough-guy persona and deep voice to work for ADT.

Well, wait a sec. According to Rhames, he’s not just working for the huge home security firm; he says in the new commercials that he “is ADT.”

The ad campaign seeks to set ADT apart from the increasing number of smart home products available to consumers. The spots are based on the premise that consumers often mistake convenience “with the added safety of professionally monitored security,” ADT said in a prepared statement.

In the ads, Rhames asks, “What good is a smart home if it’s not a safe home?”

“Our new campaign addresses the desire for connectivity, control and most important of all—security. Self-monitored security solutions do not provide police, fire or emergency medical response in the event of an emergency,” Jerri DeVard, chief marketing officer of ADT, said in the statement.

Rhames says in one of the spots I viewed: “Strong isn’t wrong, I’m ADT, I oughta know. But what makes brawn even better is brains. See, I’m both the big brain at the center of your peace of mind and the big muscle to keep the peace.”

Big brain, big muscle, gotcha. I'm not going to argue with Mr. Ving. Good ad campaign, I think. What do you think?

The Security 5k2k sets new goal for 2015

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02/13/2015

LAS VEGAS—The Security 5K/2K, held here during ISC West on April 16, benefits Mission 500, an organization that provides food, water, education and healthcare to children need around the world.

What is it about Genetec that wins it top-employer awards?

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Genetec, a developer of open-platform, hardware and cloud-based services for the physical security and public safety industries, based in Montreal, hosted a Press Summit this week. I was supposed to be there. But no! A snowstorm on Sunday prevented me from making my flight out.

I was disappointed. I was interested in learning and reporting about what Genetec has going on for 2015 in advance of its reveals at ISC West. I also was looking forward to finding out more about the corporate culture of the company, which was founded in 1997.

Corporate culture is worth knowing about. Just ask John Loud of LOUD Security, who spoke about it at Honeywell’s Connect2014 event.

Brian Katz of Google, keynoter at our recent TechSec conference, discussed that progressive company’s culture of security.

Attitudes all add up in making companies more successful.

When I visited Genetec’s HQ last year I was impressed with the atmosphere there, from the popular, low-cost gourmet food in its company cafeteria to its on-site gym. Then there’s the foosball- and X-box-equipped meeting areas. Employees trying to untangle snags in projects are encouraged to work them out over a game or two. (My teenage son has often told me that video games help him think, too, when he’s stuck on a homework project. Now I just might believe him.)

It’s not only about good food and fun and games for Gentec’s 620 employees, though. Those perks, along with generous vacation time and benefits and company-sponsored outings, are designed to promote a work environment that fosters “a strong culture of innovation, which is essential to the growth and future of [the] business,” the company says.

Genetec this year was named one of the top employees in Montreal for the ninth consecutive year by MediaCorp Canada. The contest evaluates employers on criteria that includes physical workspace, work atmosphere and social, health, financial and family benefits, vacation and time off, employee communications, performance management, training and skills development and community involvement.

The award isn’t just about good external public relations, the company told me when I inquired. In addition to prompting more visitors to the Genetec website and boosting job applications and greater, favorable awareness about the company overall, it has made current employees proud to work at the company and, Genetec says, employee retention will grow because of it.

I’ll be writing more about Genetec’s corporate culture, so stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In emergency management, be ready to ‘roll with the punches’

At TechSec, Dana Farber security director discusses impacts of back-to-back active shooter, big blizzard
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02/06/2015

DELRAY BEACH, Fla.—Working in emergency management means “rolling with the punches” and having successful communication plans in place, says the director of security and emergency management for the renowned Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Google’s Brian Katz advocates diverse staff, bottom-to-top security buy-in

TechSec keynote speaker says every employee can be turned into ‘a member of the security team not with fear but with a feeling of community’
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02/04/2015

DELRAY BEACH, Fla.— Security professionals are working today in an exciting time, a time of a “new paradigm” where security is evolving faster than ever as an integral part of the company culture and not merely a separate program, according to a top manager for Google.

Creating the perfect image

Women in security technology profile: Ellen Cargill, CTO, Scallop Imaging
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01/28/2015

BOSTON—She’s been creating imaging systems for more than 25 years, but Scallop Imaging CTO Ellen Cargill says doing this kind of work in the security field is different.

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