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Women in Security Feature: Jill Bartyzal – 'Designing security solutions'

Women in Security Feature: Jill Bartyzal – 'Designing security solutions' Bartyzal, senior business relationship manager with Pro-Tec Design, discusses diversity, work-life balance, music, and more

Women in Security Feature: Jill Bartyzal – “Designing security solutions to solve real-world problems”

YARMOUTH, Maine—Jill Bartyzal is no stranger to being featured in Security Systems News.

A member of the 20 under 40 Class of 2008 with Armor Security, Bartyzal currently serves as senior business relationship manager with Pro-Tec Design, a purpose-driven Twin Cities security integrator providing consulting, design and installation of video surveillance, card access control, intercom, and intrusion systems, based out of Minnetonka, Minn.

Jill BartyzalAs 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, the following is an exclusive Q&A with Bartyzal:

SSN: What is your current position and what is your role and responsibilities?

Bartyzal: I am senior business relationship manager at Pro-Tec Design, aka salesperson.  

I work with a diverse group of clients ranging from nationwide deployments for Fortune 500 companies to energy companies, colleges, and local cities. Designing security solutions to solve real-world problems matches up with my lifelong passions for technology and helping people.

SSN: How did you get into and what inspired you to stay in the security industry?

Bartyzal: I started working in security in 1996 at a 25-to-30-person mom and pop security company as the receptionist during a break from college. The owner took painting lessons for years from my mother.

I studied IT at the University of Minnesota while working part-time for the small security company and filled in as needed for just about every position in the company: Cutting keys, ordering inventory, cold calling, follow up calls on service tickets, preparing contracts, programming burglar and fire panels, using a typewriter for central station agreements, service ticket data entry, project management to scheduling jobs and service tickets. When their IT person left for greener pastures, I ended up working for them full-time.

My first task was to rewrite the MS-DOS-based software they were using to run the company and move it to Microsoft Access to alleviate possible Y2K problems. I managed all the IT needs for the company and started getting sent into the field to support anything with software. Over the 19 years I worked for Armor Security, I ended up being responsible for selling a book of business, managing all the IT needs, software upgrades including end user training, and overall working on implementing process improvements to the custom database I wrote for the company.

In 2008 I had the honor of being awarded the 20 Under 40 award by Security Systems News. While I really loved all the different people and equipment problems that would present in a day, I needed to move on from a smaller organization and decided I wanted to dedicate myself to selling at an enterprise level, which is how I joined Pro-Tec Design.

In sales, I work my brain in both a people aspect and a technical/problem-solving way that excites and challenges me to be the best version of myself every single day and to never stop learning. What I love about Pro-Tec is that I am an employee owner and share core values with the organization. Working for an ESOP leads to the mentality that we are better together and monetizes the concept through distribution of company shares.

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

Bartyzal: I remember one of the first times I went out on a what I thought was a software problem, I deduced there had to be a loose communication wire on the IEI Hub to the back of the RS-232 connection on the computer. I was right and after multiple techs had been out, I solved the problem in under 30 minutes. The only problem was the client called my boss and said I was unprofessional because I had to ask him for a ladder and a screwdriver. This was not lost on me as really being about my perceived gender. I guess ultimately the client had a point, so I overcompensated and began carrying ridiculous items like a hammer and a plumber’s wrench just in case.

I also struggled one time with a new male employee mansplaining technology to me right off the bat, so I took every certificate from every security course I ever took and had them framed and displayed, filling an entire 20-foot wall in my office with all my creds. Now the first time you met me, behind me would be a wall of pieces of paper that I guess proved I knew my stuff.

I asked for the word “senior” in my title and my gray hair seems to get me past the initial sexism that can be in the air at times. I have also never been a person that compromises or tries to fit into someone else’s mold. While my workplace remains non-diverse, the rest of the world does not.

I have found my diverseness to be an asset when working with clients because most clients reflect more diversity. I have also noticed more and more women moving into roles like project management, where the skill set of attention to detail is essential.

When working through complex sales, including more stakeholders into the conversation also lends itself to adding diversity of both gender and perspectives toward solving the client’s problem. As our world becomes more diverse, it will only get smaller and smaller to those folks that don’t get on-board by assuming goodwill and remembering we are all simply humans.

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

Bartyzal: Work-life balance. There is so much pressure to get everything done now and quickly, so for many years I found myself working days, nights, weekends and was literally on call at all times to help out my team and clients. I had to draw a line in the sand, or I thought I would lose myself. I became deliberate in both work and life and changed my perspective to value each equally. I realized when you deliver an excellent product, folks will often wait a little longer if you communicate. Remember they are only human too. Take time for yourself to unwind and stick to it. The weekends have become exclusively my time to regenerate. It goes back to the good old “work hard, play hard” saying.

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

Bartyzal: I strive to learn something new from each human-to-human interaction I have, so in my book every person should be perceived as a role model. I try to pick up little things here and there, like using the term “would” instead of “could” when asking for something, which illustrates humility and the desire for a partnership. Language really matters in this world that presents itself in so much more of a digital way, so communicating clearly and succinctly to try avoiding misperceptions through e-mails is a new skill set everyone should have in their tool belt.

I have, however, enjoyed a monthly dinner date with Cindy Bracey from Bosch Security since the late 90s. Our meeting cadence has slowed down recently due to her well-deserved promotion. Bouncing situations off a different person from the industry (rather than boring my wife) has helped guide me through taking effective actions. The monthly cadence gave Cindy a perspective of my life to recognize different patterns and changes that were not apparent to folks I saw every day. I must thank Cindy for pointing out years ago that I became literally a different person and way too intense when I drank too much coffee. She has always been the friend who would point out the uncomfortable things only to help guide me to become a better version of myself. For this I am grateful.

I also played tennis until recently with my father Paul on a semi-weekly basis during the gorgeous but short Minnesota outdoor tennis season. He worked in a corporate environment and his advice on a range of topics from work to my relationships and even a little Star Trek geekiness were essential to me becoming the person I am today. Again, we would have these conversations about work and life separated by time but on a regular cadence, which resulted in deeper conversations.

Lastly, I give a shout-out to one of my recent mentors and former COO of Pro-Tec, Chris McPartland. Chris was the person that I could send any stream of consciousness in an e-mail to, and he would either take care of the issue or send me back a better way to frame something, so I didn’t inject unnecessary noise into internal conversations, thus turning a small issue into misperceived messages and hurting feelings. I still have a note posted right under my monitor that reads “Make everyone’s thinking visible” and “Turn it into a question.”

Thank you, Cindy, Paul, and Chris. There are many others I could mention here. Be a sponge for knowledge and personal growth and mentors will present themselves all the time.

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

Bartyzal: This industry needs your skills. You do you. Be confident in your abilities. Listen. Always act with integrity and you will earn respect. Smile more, just kidding.

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

Bartyzal: There is never a shortage of exponential growth where technology is concerned and the security industry, while typically lagging behind, is no exception.

Everyone also seems to always be in a time crunch no matter who you talk to. Being “busy,” while now becoming an unfashionable response, is a reality most workers face.

That said, the adoption of SaaS model solutions will only increase moving forward, because when a buyer’s organization is in growth mode that can place the stakeholders that need to deploy the solution in trouble mode quickly. Buyers then look for the easy button and SaaS solutions becomes the most desired type of system. There is also a drive toward operational versus capital expenses, which only leads one to embrace the simplicity of the SaaS model. This is where integrators need to focus on how to add their value into the mix or why would folks simply look for solutions consumers can purchase directly from the SaaS software developer, like the systems they have in place at their homes.

The answer is building partnerships with clients and offering them more “easy” solutions with predictable expenses that give them the peace of mind that the system they purchased 10 years ago is operating in top shape today. Building models for maintenance contracts and reviewing the value proposition of having your experts there so folks don’t make mistakes you already know about becomes critical to the sustainability of the integrators of the future.

With the ever-changing playfield in cyberspace, I believe identity management and AI will be two areas of focus integrators must understand. Offering open products that can seamlessly integrate with systems IT put in place to be more proactive about protecting their organization; Or better yet why couldn’t we be providing the identity management piece? AI too presents an area for security solutions to finally become more proactive than reactive. Helping clients get the building blocks in place to be ready to leverage AI algorithms against their real-time data as the solutions become more prevalent in the marketplace to me is essential, so you are not walking someone through another rip and replace solution. To do this, I believe providing recommendations that support server-side analytics to be a better overall ROI strategy for clients. Solutions built with open architecture provide a more future-proof path forward.

From a diversity perspective, I do worry about the inherent biases that human data injects into AI solutions when they are learning behaviors from us. In the end, I truly believe that there are more people like me that embrace diversity and challenge ourselves to learn from others. We will outnumber those that don’t and goodwill with prevail. Look no further than the current attitudes of our future generation and how they embrace each other. Us old folks need to get out of their way.

SSN: What do you feel are the top trends, issues or challenges facing the security industry today?

Bartyzal: There has been an ever-present shortage of technicians, so companies are left with an aging workforce. In Minnesota we have a Power Limited Technician license, which I have held since 2003. This license gives folks something to work toward, and it is always important to provide career roadmaps to retain talent.

While security is touched on through many technical college programs, it is not something one goes to technical college to study exclusively. I believe our unions and places like Pro-Tec need to help partner with the education systems in place to make sure young people know about our exciting industry that ties together both the physicality of installing security to the more complex IT challenges our team faces as we justify putting our IoT devices on clients’ complex networks. Plus, the pay and benefits are very good, and the risk of on-the-job injuries is much lower than many of the trades offering degrees at technical college, like an electrician.

SSN: Anything else that you would like to add?

Bartyzal: At age 12 I was blessed with discovering my true gift to the world, which is playing the bass (guitar and standup). This has allowed me to have a singular focus on giving back to the community through performing and recording music. When you find your “thing,” embrace it and contribute toward the future of humanity, everything else comes into focus.

Check out my current groups online: Pretendians Band; RuDeGiRL, a female tribute band to The Clash; Umbrella Bed; and Les Speedos.


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