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40 under 40: Liz Bacus, Integrated Security Technologies

40 under 40: Liz Bacus, Integrated Security Technologies

YARMOUTH, Maine—Engineering and design work for the Federal government is the bread and butter of what Liz Bacus does on a daily basis.

As the FedGov Project Engineer for Waipahu, Hawaii-based Integrated Security Technologies (IST), Bacus has a variety of responsibilities in her current role.

“I do ESS (electronic security systems) pre-sales engineering and design work, and project management of federal contracts from cradle to grave,” she explained.

“I also do pre-sales engineering and design work for commercial projects, but my focus is on the fed side of the house.

“My day-to-day involves a combination of coordinating and interfacing with internal and external stakeholders; utilizing 2D/3D CAD (computer-aided design) for design work, deliverables, and submittals; and traveling to do site surveys for pre-sales engineering or visiting active project sites.”  

Exciting Opportunities and Culture

As Bacus stated, she has “made the journey around the sun for 37 years now” and has been with IST for almost three years.

She noted that her path to the security industry was inspired by her decision to change careers.

“I was in the ship building and repair industry for a while and was looking for a change,” she said. “The constantly evolving nature of technologies, coupled with the opportunity to continue serving our nation’s warfighters, was what inspired me to get into the security industry.

“Opportunities for growth and learning, opportunities to pursue and implement process improvements, and being a part of a company with good culture and ethics is what inspired me to stay in the industry. Essentially, I joined for the exciting opportunities, and stayed for the culture.”  

Meeting Challenges and Public Desires

When asked what she feels are the top trends in security today, Bacus cited three, in no particular order - switching wiring and communications standards from binary/analog to digital protocols (ex. Wiegand vs. OSDP); use of portable mobile devices as part of the ESS ecosystem (ex. biometrics, access control, ESS management through a mobile device); and switching to cloud-based ESS vice having physical servers on-site.

“The probability of having one or all these trends turning into an industry standard hinge on the ESS manufacturer’s ability to quickly meet the challenges in cybersecurity, product integration, and their ability to adapt to the general public’s appetite for these systems,” she pointed out.

Exciting Technologies

Bacus highlighted a few exciting security technologies out there today, noting the importance of the thought process and the role that ethics plays in rolling out these new technologies.

“Improvements in the accuracy and smoother integration of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and analytics in electronic security systems, to me seem the most exciting and promising,” she noted. “For example, having the possibility of reducing manpower or eliminating physical security staff altogether has huge ramifications in changing an organization’s SOP(s), budget, staffing, and/or growth, for the better or worse.

“Ethical considerations and implications in the use of these technologies add a layer of promise and excitement as well. As we rush to automate human thought and decision-making in security applications, it is exciting to think if thoughtful conversations are being had during the R&D, marketing, and implementation processes of these technologies; if ethics is the catalyst in these conversations; and if the results of these conversations are conducive to the societal shifts brought about by these volatile times.”

“Adapt or Die”  

During these unpredictable times brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Bacus pointed out a few keys to success on both a personal and professional level.

“One of the mottos I live by is ‘adapt or die,’” she said. “Operating as if that the situation is always fluid helps me meet the moment and plan as successfully as I can with the information and circumstances I am presented, especially during times of volatility.

“Since the global pandemic not only laid bare inefficiencies and inequities in people’s personal and professional lives, but also exacerbate them, remaining informed and fluid was and still is the best course of action I’ve taken to remain relatively successful. And since removing COVID from the equation only lowers the level of volatility, and not eliminate it, being flexible is always key to setting oneself up for success.”

Attracting Younger Talent

Bacus noted the importance of industries joining forces in order to attract younger talent and help shape the future of security.

“I am too much of a neophyte in the industry to comment on this, but I’m of the opinion that as the ESS industry coalesces with other industries like cybersecurity, AI, and the like, it will certainly attract younger talent looking to work in a STEM field,” she explained. “However, will the industry be flexible enough and cognizant enough of what attracting younger talent means? Young people are no longer just looking at by benefits and comp packages that will maintain their lifestyle; they are also looking for companies, co-workers, and industries who align with their worldview, values, and ethics.

In addition, companies have to stay on top of industry trends and be proactive in terms of inclusion, diversity and other critical initiatives, according to Bacus.

”I think this works with any industry in today’s labor market - companies need to be able to convey what they stand for besides the generic ‘what they have to offer in terms of competitive compensation packages and benefits packages,’” she noted. “In order to attract a younger and more diverse talent pool, companies need to not only be at the forefront of industry trends, but also have solid stances and initiatives in corporate social responsibility and diversity, equity, and inclusion.”


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