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40 under 40: Ben Brown, Microsoft

40 under 40: Ben Brown, Microsoft

YARMOUTH, Maine—Ben Brown, CPP, is only 31, but he has already amassed quite a resume in the security industry at such a young age.

With a background that includes what he calls “a unique marriage” of corporate security, military experience, and higher education in the global security field, Brown currently serves as the senior special security operations manager for the Security Center of Excellence within Microsoft’s Cloud Operations & Innovation division.

Brown, who has been in his role at Microsoft just shy of two years, is Senior Special Security Operations Manager and oversees the delivery of physical security programs within a portfolio of high-security specialized datacenters.

“My primary duties include providing management over a contracted guard force and overseeing the development and maintenance of all program policy, and governance,” he explained. “Much of my day-to-day consists of providing consultation and project management between a variety of security stakeholders within our organization, and amongst our customers. Security disciplines that I have responsibilities within include industrial security and federal compliance, emergency planning, risk assessment, site operations, investigations, and security supplier contract management.”

Security Background

Brown noted that he entered the security industry upon his departure from the U.S. Navy. “At the time, this was a move based upon ease of transition but one which quickly formed into a career,” he said.

In his previous role before joining Microsoft, Brown managed operational security programs and designed physical security systems and facilities in adherence to U.S. government National Industrial Security Program, and intelligence community standards, while serving as a Contractor Program Security Officer (CPSO) for The Boeing Co.

Before that, he managed physical security programs at Amazon Web Services, overseeing a variety of unique special programs datacenters and laboratories. In this role he developed various holistic security programs to ensure the safeguarding of customer data and proprietary experimental corporate assets.

At Bill & Melinda Gates Investments, Brown spent several years leading security operations programs including performing risk assessments, managing an enterprise security technology program, overseeing daily guarding operation, and developing a security governance model from the ground up.

Critical Trends

Brown pointed out “many recognizable” trends that are “critical” in security today, including changes due to COVID, convergence, workplace violence, and others.

“I am most interested in the advancement of security methodologies related to ESRM, and security management as an element of business strategy,” he noted. “I find that such themes as these, coupled with the rapid professionalization of security as an occupation, will propel our industry to a more recognized and integral component of business in the future.”  

He cited automation and the power of cloud computing as among the most exciting new security technologies out there today, along with artificial intelligence (AI).

“I believe [they] will have a significant impact upon current security technology and offer the power of scalability and reliability to current security systems and hardware,” Brown explained. “Further, I believe that artificial intelligence will play a significant role in automating security systems and improving their capabilities of safeguarding assets.”  

As we approach year three of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brown stressed that resiliency is the key to success through these unpredictable times on a personal and professional level.

“The overwhelming lesson learned regarding succeeding personally and professionally within the COVID era is that resiliency must be a top priority,” he said. “This includes deliberate action to remain resilient personally by setting boundaries with work as well as supporting the resiliency of business partners through thoughtfulness of others’ situations and looking for opportunities to support peers with work goals.

“Additionally, it is important to continue to seek out networking and mentorship relationships, even if those relationships are virtual. Networking in the virtual environment requires taking time to digitally connect with our peers and look for new adaptive ways to aid others professionally.”

Pivotal Change

When asked about his thoughts on the security industry going forward, Brown noted that the security field is continuing to experience “pivotal change, where the body of knowledge is expanding rapidly, and security as an occupation is becoming regarded as a fundamental domain within business. The professionalization and increase in different career pathways within our industry will continue to expand the opportunities available and enhance security as a profession in the future.”  

Speaking of opportunities, Brown noted that security organizations are already doing their part to attract more talented, diverse, young people into the industry, while also suggesting that security leaders should serve as advocates to bring young professionals into the fold.

“Industry thought leadership and professional organizations such as IFPO, SIA, and ASIS have already done a lot to highlight how to engage young professionals and articulate the value they provide our industry,” he explained. “On the professional development side this is an apparent objective; however, employers are not as fast to embrace these learnings.

“It is imperative that security leaders in industry use their voice and position to advocate for deliberate hiring, promotion and most importantly, empowerment of young and underrepresented professionals so that security departments are agile, diverse, and reflective of the organizations they serve. This can be achieved by embracing the talents, education, and zeal of young professionals through mentorship, by providing growth opportunities, and by presenting clear pathways for their success.”  


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