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40 under 40: Greg Thompson, Vantage Data Centers

40 under 40: Greg Thompson, Vantage Data Centers

40 under 40: Greg Thompson, Vantage Data Centers

YARMOUTH, Maine—Greg Thompson’s military upbringing has led to a mindset for security success.

The well-traveled Thompson, 34, currently serves as Director of Physical Security at Vantage Data Centers, a Denver-based company that powers, cools, protects and connects the technology of hyperscalers, cloud providers and large enterprises.

Thompson, who has worked at Vantage since September 2019, literally outlined his daily activities when asked to describe his responsibilities with the company:

  • Develop physical security program into a global program that encompasses all aspects of datacenter physical security, including design, construction, testing, daily operation and maintenance
  • Implement a complete staffing plan that covers hiring, training, oversight and compliance
  • Lead a multi-site team of supervisors and guards
  • Manage all aspects of customer safety requirements across all campuses, including IT/physical security interface

Military Background

Thompson, who works out of Vantage’s Sterling, Va. campus, told Security Systems News that his military background led to his pursuit of a career in the security industry.

“I was raised in a military family and was fortunate enough to live internationally for most of my youth,” he said. “A daily tenet of the military lifestyle overseas is to be vigilant and mindful of other people, cultures, and situations. That foundation of my upbringing shaped how my mind works, which has always gravitated towards situational awareness, safety, and security. At college, I double majored in Government & International Politics and Religion, with the goal of joining the military or Federal Bureau of Investigations after I graduated.”  

Cyber and Physical Security

Thompson noted that that the largest trend in security today is the convergence of cyber and physical security.

“Incident, threat, and vulnerability trends suggest a continuing of cross organizational attack vectors,” he explained. “Traditional siloed functions are now utilizing the same corporate IT infrastructure, which means all security edge devices can now be exploited and attacked to get access to the network.”  

Another trend that Thompson outlined is an expansion of biometrics as a means for multi-operational necessities.

“My locations using facial recognition as a means for multi-factor authentication were able to adjust to the customer requirements faster, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, better than locations with fingerprint/keypad readers,” he pointed out.

Thompson added that the proliferation, and affordability, of Physical Identity and Access Management (PIAM) solutions will continue to grow.

“These systems assist by effectively managing access requests based on an individual’s identity and an organization’s security policies,” he said. “The reduction of the human element in access control can lead to more efficiency and reduced security violations.”  

Intelligence Video Analytics

One of the most exciting security technologies out there right now is intelligence video analytics, according to Thompson.

“Although not new, intelligence video analytics is becoming increasingly cost effective and more advanced,” he noted. “AI built into edge devices allows for better utilization of cross-line detection, facial recognition, infrared and thermal imaging integration, etc. The ability to rely on improved AI-integrated technology provides more efficiency of a security officer’s time and a clear stratification of nuisance alarms versus actual threats.”

COVID Impact

With COVID-19 having a direct impact on the security industry, and life in general, Thompson noted that the key to success during these challenging times is “driven by a clear understanding of operational requirements and available resources.”

“COVID has dramatically shifted standard operations, from staffing levels, engagement opportunities, to budgetary obligations,” he explained.” For example, many jurisdictions now require temperature screening before entering the secure part of the facility. Based on social distance requirements, available security officer staff, and budget, it was determined that standalone temperature screening system was needed, instead of hand-held scanners. These items can be very expensive. However, in speaking with the C-Suite, I was able to get funding for this, as it conveyed safety to our customers and employees.”

On a personal level, Thompson added, “Maintaining balance is the most critical thing for these unpredictable times. Eating healthy, exercise, and defined periods for family and relaxing are requirements, not niceties.”   

Significant Growth and Change

Thompson predicted that the security industry will see “significant growth and change” over the next decade, as it relates to analytics-driven operations, IT convergence, and privacy-focused policies.

“The siloed nature of IT and physical security will continue to be altered, creating more interdependencies and synergies,” he said.

A Holistic Enterprise

In order to recruit young, talented people, Thompson noted that the security industry should be advertised more as a holistic enterprise, rather than a subset of other fields, at the primary and university education level.

“The security industry is not advertised as an expansive career opportunity, which limits young people from considering or entering the field,” he explained. “Professionalization of the industry will allow young professionals the awareness of its potential and the various career paths with it.”  


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