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Women in Security Feature: Kim Landgraf, Security Industry Association (SIA)

Women in Security Feature: Kim Landgraf, Security Industry Association (SIA)

Women in Security Feature: Kim Landgraf, Security Industry Association (SIA)

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 Kim Landgraf, who is responsible for providing a creative vision, design leadership and production oversight on print and digital assets that supports SIA's initiatives and helps drive growth.

As she tells SSN, “I wear a lot of hats! As the liaison for SIA’s Women in Security Forum (WISF), I work with the steering committee to bring programs and events to fruition. I am also the design and production manager for SIA and create and produce visual assets for the association. The two roles couldn’t be more different in terms of skills and thought processes, but at the heart of both roles is creation. Whether it’s designing marketing materials or developing new offerings to help advance women in the industry, I love bringing ideas to realization.”

The following is an exclusive Q&A with SSN: 

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

LANDGRAF: Like a lot of people, I didn’t choose to have a career in the security industry, I just sort of fell into it. I’m a graphic designer, so my skillset is applicable in different industries. When SIA asked me to help launch the Women in Security Forum, I didn’t hesitate. Since its inception in March 2018, I’ve learned a lot from working with so many inspiring women.

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

LANDGRAF: I’ve worked for 20 years as a minority woman in industries that are predominately male – science, legal and security. While everyone has a thing or two to say about good design, it’s much harder to translate an idea into something tangible. Leaning into my expertise helped me build confidence from within. I also never thought of it in the context of me vs them. It’s always been about designing something better and using my expertise to help other people.

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?)

LANDGRAF: In the 7 years I’ve been in the security industry, I’ve seen change but more needs to happen. Currently, there is a lot of momentum around DE&I and there has been a good effort to raise awareness of the correlation between better business performance and diversity. However, we are behind compared to other industries. The security industry needs to harness this momentum and move DE&I beyond awareness. There needs to be more difficult conversations and actionable items to bring more people of diverse backgrounds into leadership roles. It needs to be built into businesses’ strategies and supported by leadership. It’s important for the health of the industry — to attract and retain talent and appeal to a wider client base.

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

LANDGRAF: For me, working with the WISF Steering Committee members to launch and grow the Forum has been both challenging and rewarding. Building something from the ground up is always hard and one of my guiding principles, is to grow the community so it’s inclusive and supportive in a meaningful way. Too often, women’s groups get a bad rap for not having a lot of substance. I’ve had the privilege of working with so many smart, strong women and without their hard work and insights, WISF wouldn’t be where it is today.

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

LANDGRAF: There are so many people who have shaped who I’ve become, but my mom was the most influential. She was always ahead of the times. She worked in a male dominated field as a research scientist at the National Institute of Health. She started there in the 1970s when, despite safety issues, women were required to wear skirts and heels to the laboratory.

During her tenure at NIH, she worked on the equal employment opportunity committee and researched salary inequality. It was in the early 90’s and she was given this project because her supervisors didn’t value it as “real” scientific research. However, she turned it into an opportunity and was recognized by Dr. Fauci for her effort on the report. Even though my mom is no longer around, working with WISF and giving voice underrepresented groups makes me feel proud to follow in her footsteps.

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

LANDGRAF: The security industry is a great place to have a career. It’s a strong, growing industry and offers rewarding and lucrative career paths. While there is a definite need for STEM talent, there are so many other career opportunities such as sales, operations, and marketing. Get involved with the Women in Security Forum and you’ll have a community that will support you along the way!

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?

LANDGRAF: I believe the future is strong for the security industry. It’s embracing new technologies and more and more companies are starting to incorporate diversity strategies into their business plans. However, I do believe the industry needs a rebrand to attract next-generation talent and to help society better understand how new technological advances can make a safer community.

Part of the appeal of the security industry is that offers so much more than just the guards, gates, and the latest tech buzz words. It’s unique because few industries can thrive while being beneficial to society. Traditionally, words like strength, force, and power are often used to describe the industry and that language can detract from bringing in diverse talent and lead to mistrust in society. Technology is making the world a safer place and the security industry needs to let recent graduates know it’s a thriving industry with a purposeful career path. It also needs to let society know that new technologies are tools to help protect and make their community a safer place to live.  

SSN: Anything else that you would like to add?

LANDGRAF: I’d like to thank SIA and the Women in Security Forum steering committee. Without their support and hard work, the Forum wouldn’t be where it is today. 

For more information on SIA's WISF please click here


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