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Breaking Barriers

Breaking Barriers

Two weeks ago, I blogged about the successful Moms in Security golf outing that four amazing women in our industry put together for a great cause. Feeding off that phrase – “amazing women in our industry” - something else happened that day at the golf outing that was the catalyst for this week’s blog.

Following five hours on the golf course in 100-degree heat, I was about to have a fine meal of ribs, chicken and beans in the clubhouse. However, I was summoned by someone I met earlier in the day at the registration area - Maureen Carlo, Director of Strategic Alliances, BCD International – and I put my hunger on the backburner. I was in demand at my first networking event for Security Systems News, grumbling stomach notwithstanding.

Maureen was chatting with three security professionals from Northland Controls – Daniel Chung, PSP, Global Director of Consulting and Design; Brendan McFall, Technical Engineering Manager; and Dakota Bierly, Content Marketing Specialist, who were among a group of five company reps who made the trip to New Jersey to support the Moms in Security’s efforts to stop human trafficking.

The heck with the foursomes on the golf course. This foursome in the clubhouse engaged in a discussion that had my ears glued, as Maureen brought up topics that she is extremely passionate about, namely inclusion, diversity and women empowerment – three topics which we at Security Systems News are also extremely passionate about.

I’m going to focus on the women empowerment aspect for this particular blog because upon hearing the discourse that took place between Maureen and the Northland Controls trio, I think it’s safe to say that the future for women in the security industry is brighter now than it ever was.

Creating Opportunities 

Need proof? Maureen talked about the barriers she faced in making her mark as a woman in the security industry. Knowing that the industry is male dominant, she overcame every obstacle that came before her, even preferring to take the difficult path to success, if it meant that her voice would ultimately be heard.

“I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am or earned my voice and my place had I not done what I did,” she said. “When I got in the industry, I did not know there were not that many women in the industry. Now there’s more diversity and so forth, and we’re creating opportunities to have inclusion and bring together the young, the old, the new – a variety of folks. If I’ve made some strides for some women, then I want to share that. I never thought I would have a voice to talk about inclusion in this industry. I never expected that in a million years.”

To which McFall immediately responded, “You’re such a trailblazer for me, and it’s humbling for me just to see what you’re doing.”

Maureen’s humbling response to McFall was, “I want to inspire people as much as you inspire me.”

Wow! What a moment right there! Just to see the amount of respect that others have for Maureen in this industry was icing on the cake for my first on-site assignment for Security Systems News.

But there was more. Without provocation, Maureen then promoted the Women in Security Forum (WISF) feature that we proudly run each month as she continued to converse with the Northland Controls trio.

Security Systems News, a few years ago, came to the Women in Security Forum and said, “Will you help give us some recommendations of women who we could feature because every December, that’s the issue where we feature women in security,” she explained. “This past year, [Editor] Paul Ragusa came to me and said, ‘Well, we actually don’t want to feature all the women in one issue. We want to feature women in every single issue.’”  

Which is exactly what we do. Each month, we highlight a woman making her mark in the security industry.

One of the questions we ask our featured women each month is: What have you found most challenging working in the security industry and how did you overcome it?

Our latest WISF featured subject, Fabiola Francisco, Director of Client Success for Condortech Services, Inc., responded to that question in this way: “I think the most challenging part of working in our industry, as a woman and a Latina, is not always being taken seriously at times; most of the time, folks will assume I am in a support role versus a decision maker. However, I have learned to use this to my advantage.

“For example, since there are fewer women, when someone meets me, and realizes my abilities, they pay attention and listen. If I am challenged by a peer, I stand my ground and earn respect. I feel it is important for me to always have an open mind, but also educate respectfully when the situation presents itself. I know that my experiences are paving the path, so I take it as a responsibility to educate whenever possible.”

A Wave of Change 

Speaking of empowerment, another woman who has definitely landed on her feet in the security industry is cyber expert Antoinette King, PSP, DPPS. Here’s a lady who cut her teeth in security for more than 20 years before finding what she calls her true “calling” – founding her own security consulting firm, Credo Cyber Consulting, where she helps manufacturers, integrators, and end users develop successful cybersecurity programs for themselves and their customers.

“It’s a calling; it moves me every day,” King told me when we spoke on the first day of her new venture. “I can’t wait to wake up in the morning and do the work. That’s the exciting part of it. Whatever happens financially, the universe will make that happen. For me, it’s truly about doing the work, and being able to do the work.” 

On the subject of women empowerment, King made sure to acknowledge the contributions that BOTH men and women have made to help get her own consulting firm up and running.  

“We’ve got a lot of work to do in this industry, but I’m a living, breathing example of  a person who is a minority in the industry, and I have some of the most incredible men and women who are pulling me from the top,” she noted. “They’re giving me a hand and they’re saying, ‘What do you need? I’ll help you.’ They’re promoting me. That’s what we can do - recognize that we each need each other.

King also extolled the virtues of the Security Industry Association’s (SIA’s) Women in Security Forum, now chaired by another empowered woman in the security industry, Kasia Hanson, Edge AI Partner Sales Director, Safety & Security, Smart Cities & Venues for Intel Corporation.

“I don’t ever want anyone to think that the Women in Security Forum is a male-bashing group,” King explained. “No, we are so proud of the men who support us and promote us because we can’t do it without them. I’m seeing this wave of change, and it is so exciting because I know what it’s like to be the only woman in the room. I’ve been there for most of my career, and that’s not fun. I’ve always felt like I had to prove and prove and prove, and now there are just so many incredible gentlemen who want to see more diversity. It’s very exciting.”

Min Kyriannis, CEO of her own technology company, Amyna Systems, perhaps said it best when asked what the future holds for women empowerment in the security industry.

“I’ve been openly speaking and involved in many groups in the hopes that we can unify in our voices for all the amazing ladies (and others) and support them on their endeavors,” she said. “They wear so many different hats and instead of raising them up, historically, they’ve been put down. It’s time to change that, and being selfish as a mother of daughters, let’s empower them!! They are the ones who will pave the path and become role models for my children, as well as yours in the future. I’m extremely proud of so many women in my community who have risen above, and I hope to see more of them in the future. This is empowerment – allowing great leaders to shine and pave a path for the next generation.”

So many examples of women empowerment, from Maureen Carlo (who King refers to as the “essence of empowerment”), to the Moms in Security, to Antoinette King (one of those Moms in Security), to Kasia Hanson, to Min Kyriannis, to the Women in Security Forum featured subjects each month, to our female “40 under 40” winners (July 30th deadline for submissions, BTW, male or female).

Women in security, you’ve been empowered! And we’ll continue to shine the spotlight on these outstanding ladies! You deserve it!


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