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Women in Security Feature: Fabiola Francisco, Condortech Services, Inc.

Women in Security Feature: Fabiola Francisco, Condortech Services, Inc.

Women in Security Feature: Fabiola Francisco, Condortech Services, Inc.

YARMOUTH, Maine—As part of Security Systems News’ and the Security Industry Association (SIA) Women in Security Forum’s (WISF’s) continuing series highlighting the contributions of women in security, this month’s feature is on Fabiola Francisco, Director of Client Success for Condortech Services, Inc, which provides comprehensive security system design, installation, training and support.

“I am the Director of Client Success, however, as with any small business, I wear multiple hats,” she said. “My niche is in government contracting and operations management. Over the years, I have taken a more prominent role in our business and work closely with our team to grow Condortech Services, Inc.”

The following is an exclusive Q&A with Francisco:

SSN: How did you get into/what inspired you to get into the security industry?

FRANCISCO: I consider myself a second-generation security industry professional. I am blessed to have been born into the industry.  Growing up, my father worked for Rusco which then became Casi-Rusco. I would accompany him on weekends to emergency service calls or visit the other engineers at his workplace. From a young age, he gave me tools and computers to play with; science, technology, engineering, and math were my education.  I witnessed Rusco become Casi-Rusco and move solely to manufacturing. 

In the late '80s, my father, with the support of my mother, created Condortech Services, Inc. I grew up with the industry, the people, and the mindset. Over the years I have met many of the industry pioneers. I feel privileged to have witnessed when Pelco was a small shop with analog cameras and enclosures, and grow to what it is today. I have met many of our industry’s founders such as Codebench, which revolutionized our industry to meet government compliance; I have excitedly watched our industry blossom with the help of the Security Industry Association (SIA). I can only say that our industry is a hidden gem, and I would love to see many more individuals join it.  In my eyes, the people in our industry are the most innovative, energetic, and trustworthy individuals.

SSN: What has your journey been like in a primarily male-dominated and historically non-diverse security industry?

FRANCISCO: I admit, I was a bit sheltered growing up in this industry. Many of the engineers I had met over the years, imparted their wisdom and lessons to me freely, thanks to my father. However, as I became independent and started venturing out in sales and business development. I came to realize that this was a male-dominated industry. It was most prevalent during sales walkthroughs. Most of the time, I was underestimated by my male counterparts, some took pity on me, some were helpful and would share their perspective or their notes, others were curious and would challenge my knowledge. It felt like a game most of the time, the constant one-up during walkthroughs on a technical level; however, I was able to hold my own.

I accompanied my father to an industry conference in the mid '90s, where I was shocked to see vendors who hired beautiful young women to walk the show floor in inappropriate uniforms, to lure industry attendees to their booths. Bear in mind, this was the '90s and advertising and marketing tactics were geared for a targeted stereotyped audience. In the early 2000s, improvements were made where vendors actually had their own female employees represented but were relegated to the task of collecting badge information and directing to the appropriate representative. Today, I have seen the role of women move from the administrative support roles to more “trench” positions. One of these women is someone I enjoy working with; she is with Avigilon, her name is Christine Reeley, and she is phenomenal! Our technical team relies on her engineering knowledge when developing new projects. I would like to see more women in technical leadership and management roles; as well as participating in panel discussions. 

I think one of the biggest struggles I have faced during my tenure is work-life balance. For the most part in the industry, we are available around the clock for our clients, as we should be since we deal with security; however, women tend to still carry the workload at home with children. I can only imagine how difficult it was for other women who did not have the opportunity to enjoy a flexible schedule which was afforded to me by being part of a family business. Starting out when I did, without the support of our business, it would have been a lot tougher.   

SSN: What has been done to get more women/diversity into leadership/management roles in the industry, and what else can be done? (How far have we come and how far do we still have to go?)

FRANCISCO: Our industry has come a long way, but I am of the belief we can always improve. I still see very few women in leadership roles within the security field; most women are still found in support and administrative roles.

During interviews for our entry-level positions, I present our industry as a career path.  No one really knows about it.  No one grows up saying, “I want to be the one who designs and installs security systems for buildings.”  I tell our staff and new interviewees that we are Alfred for Batman; Edna Mode for the Incredibles; Stark Industries for Iron Man; without us, our first responders, military, and security directors would not have the tools to protect our communities, states, and nation.  This message inspires and promotes our industry to attract young innovative and talented individuals.

This past year, it became even more evident how important our work is. Our industry did not shut down, in fact, we had to work smarter and harder to keep our clients’ systems operating during the pandemic, civil unrest, and insurrection. SIA, ASIS, and other industry associations are doing an amazing job to advocate our industry with our government.  It is our turn, as an industry, to start spreading the word. The security industry is home for those who are passionate about helping others, protecting our communities, and problem solving.  

I do believe that there is opportunity to change if our industry is willing. We can put a spotlight on the benefits of our industry as a career choice. We can provide focused training and/or a technical school that is specific to the security industry. We can showcase the strengths of our community and how open and embracing we are. Every one of us plays a role in this, as a group we can achieve our industry efforts toward diversity, equity and inclusion.

SSN: What have you found most challenging working in the security industry and how did you overcome it?

FRANCISCO: 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.

SSN: Have you had any role models who have helped you out along the way that you would like to mention?

FRANCISCO: I have to say my father is my role model. He is a Latino in the industry and had his struggles in the beginning as well. I would share them, but that is his story to tell, but one thing he has always instilled in us is, “Even if in front of a King, if you are right, stand your ground and don’t waver.”  My mother is also a powerful role model to me because she has taught me that “everything is possible.”

Within the industry, I truly admire MG Karch and Lynn deSeve. I run into them from time to time through industry events and always try to greet them. I hope they know how grateful I am for who they are and what they have done for women in our industry. They may not know it, but they are my heroes because they have paved the way, set high standards, and pioneered for women in our industry. 

SSN: What advice would you give other women thinking about getting into the industry or just starting out in the industry?

FRANCISCO: My advice are ones imparted to me. They are the three things I live by:

  • You define the role; the role never defines you. Do not box yourself.
  • If you are right, stand your ground, regardless of who is in front of you.
  • Nothing is impossible.

SSN: What are your views on the industry moving forward, from both from a diversity perspective and a technology and business perspective during these unpredictable times?

FRANCISCO: I have experienced many things over the years, and the only thing that stays true is, with perseverance and faith, we will survive. Lasting change happens with repetition and routine. Our industry has an opportunity right now; we have always been innovative with technology, now is the time to be innovative with our people. We must be quicker to adapt to the multitude of changes that are occurring today for tomorrow.  For a lasting impact, we need to adapt and learn by attracting young individuals of all backgrounds, genders, orientations, who are looking for what our industry has to offer. A career that helps others, provides security to our communities, and challenges the mind.  We get that message out there, we will not only survive but continue to grow our industry.


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