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Women in Security Feature: Sonika Kapur

Women in Security Feature: Sonika Kapur


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 Sonika Kapur, strategic account manager for global enterprise accounts at Wesco, a global supply chain solutions provider headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa. .  

Kapur’s role is to introduce new security products and features to WESCO’s internal teams and global end users and to expand the company’s security portfolio worldwide. “I accomplish this by connecting with global leaders of organizations, educating them about our offerings and capabilities, and learning about their needs,” she told SSN. “My goal is to identify gaps and provide solutions that help ensure the safety and security of their organizations.”

Sonika KapurKapur noted that WESCO is a global leader in supply chain distribution and supplies over 150,000 product lines to clients worldwide. “Our Technical Solution Services division helps clients write specifications and playbooks for streamlining their business processes, and we also offer kitting services which can help save our clients significant amounts of money on device installations,” she explained. “We are currently discussing topics such as big data, the Internet of Things, and cybersecurity with our clients as the physical security industry has been collaborating with IT and making devices smarter over the past decade, allowing for remote monitoring of systems such as mass notification and building automation.”

The following is an exclusive Q&A with Kapur:

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

Kapur: In 2003, I graduated from The City University of New York with my master’s degree in Computer Science and working at Circuit City selling computers, software, and computer accessories to support my family and pay for my education. Unfortunately, I was laid off due to a change in commission structure that targeted the top five earners making over the maximum per hour rate.

Desperate for a job, I accepted a position at ADT selling security systems to the residential market in the Metro NY/New Jersey area, even though I had no experience in outside sales, no familiarity with the region, and no knowledge of the security industry. I had to quickly educate myself on ADT's value proposition and navigate my way to clients' homes using maps, as there was no GPS at the time. Despite the challenges, I grew to love the security industry as I learned how we protect lives and valuables and make buildings smarter. I also found fulfillment in using my technical knowledge to help clients make informed decisions.

The security industry has become my first love and I am passionate about learning about new technologies that enhance safety.

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

Kapur: I began my career in the security industry as an outside sales representative selling security systems to the residential market. Out of the 20 salespeople in my office, I was the only woman. Some people told me that my English-speaking skills would hold me back from being successful, but I refused to let that discourage me. I kept my head down and focused on learning the products, services, and industry. My hard work paid off and within three months, I became the top seller in my office, in the Atlantic region, and nationally. I even became a mentor to many newcomers in the industry and anyone who wanted to learn my strategies for success.

One of my proudest moments was seeing my name on the "Reserved Parking for Employee of the Month" sign in the parking lot. The extra income also greatly improved my quality of life and my family's quality of life. Throughout my 20 years in the industry, I have encountered many challenges, but I have learned to develop a thick skin and ignore negativity, focusing on my goals instead.

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

Kapur: In the physical security industry, it is important to have a deep understanding of technicalities, installation processes, and details. When I first began my career in physical security, I spent my days in the field with my technical staff, learning about the industry, sites, and cabling. I also learned about needs analysis, worked with blueprints, designed systems myself, created graphs for technicians, applied for permits with hand-drawn designs, and followed up with client’s post-sale to request referrals. It takes a lot of time, collaboration with your team and adherence to process to be successful in this field. As they say, all safety laws are born from incidents where someone was harmed on the job. Physical security involves many moving parts and requires dedication to the work.

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

Kapur: I owe my success to the mentors and role models who have supported and encouraged me throughout my career. They have helped me find my true potential, given me opportunities to grow, and provided guidance on how to excel. I am forever grateful for their belief in me and my hard work. Some of these individuals have been with me on my journey, while others have inspired me through their leadership in the security industry. Watching strong, successful women in the industry continues to motivate me to be the best version of myself every day. I thank my mentors from the bottom of my heart for all they have done for me.

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

Kapur: The security industry is rapidly growing and evolving, with the increasing complexity of buildings, building automation systems, and the potential for cyber risks. There are many career paths to pursue within the industry, including business development, design work, installation, program management, IT solutions, administration, financial roles such as billing and accounts payable, and legal positions. If you have a passion for learning and helping to ensure the safety and security of others, this is the right field for you. My advice to newcomers is to believe in the process, be a good listener, match customer needs with your products and services, and don't be afraid to ask for the sale. The opportunities in this industry are endless.

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?

Kapur: Physical security is a rapidly growing field that is essential for protecting organizations, their data, and their reputation against cyber threats. As the world becomes increasingly connected through the internet, companies are investing in educating their employees and establishing business resource groups at the workplace to promote diversity and inclusion. At WESCO, I have had the opportunity to participate in these groups and have learned valuable social etiquette and gained a deeper understanding of the backgrounds and experiences of my colleagues.

When I first joined WESCO, I was hesitant to participate in these meetings due to concerns about my manager's reaction. However, a senior female leader assured me that attendance at these meetings is part of our yearly bonus plan and that my manager should have no issue with my participation. This information relieved my concerns, and now I make an effort to be involved in as many of these meetings as possible. I believe that the growth and protection of the organization and its people is of the utmost importance, and I am grateful to be part of a company that values education and diversity.

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

Kapur: We are in the early stages of the "Decade of Ecosystem," a time when the market has changed and transformed the way companies partner together. Those that are successful in the market are embracing and defining a modern partner ecosystem strategy and executing it through digital means. At WESCO, we stay connected with innovative and forward-thinking leaders in the industry to stay on top of these developments.

SSN: Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Kapur: There are glam careers and then there is physical security sales – a totally different animal. You need courage to go through the process of the sales cycle, communicate the value and ask for the sale! There is no better feeling then winning that deal; being successful in sales is the best feeling.

Also, putting a button on a few things - rigorous focus on the activity, doing the right thing, associating the product and services with customer needs, and asking for the order. “You do have to ask for the order!”

You can coach activity; you cannot coach results – be activity driven.  Be a good listener.

I have always stayed true to who I am - being authentic! I have never compromised my values, beliefs, and family while maintaining my ethics.

I am grateful to SIA WISF and Security Systems News for featuring me and giving me this opportunity to share my story.



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