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Women in Security Feature: Tracy Larson, WeSuite, LLC

Women in Security Feature: Tracy Larson, WeSuite, LLC

Women in Security Feature: Tracy Larson, WeSuite, LLC

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 Tracy Larson, president and a founding partner of WeSuite, a sales management software company.

“We automate the sales process for integrators from ‘contact to contract’ increasing efficiency, accuracy and profitability,” Larson told SSN. “My daily responsibilities range from participating in financial and business decisions, to team projects, and working directly with WeSuite prospects and clients.”

The following is an exclusive Q&A with Larson:

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

LARSON: It was purely accidental. I was the Vice President of Facilities and Real Estate for a multi-billion-dollar corporation with over 45,000 employees worldwide. A project landed on my desk to create a corporate-wide security system using our private network, at a time when security integration was non-existent. I was lucky enough to be working with an extremely progressive, highly skilled integrator who started to connect the dots with various manufacturers and technologies. We went to ISC West with ideas and I was hooked.

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

LARSON: When I first “met” the industry it was significantly male dominated. As a woman, that was visibly noticeable, especially in positions of authority. Coming from a large construction and major corporate background, I was on job sites regularly and in many meetings, often as a female minority. I was no stranger to making my way in male-dominated industries and never let the landscape deter me. I have always learned from being willing to take on challenges and opportunities.

The security industry has certainly evolved to include many impactful women and increasingly, a diverse population in a variety of positions. To me, this is indicative of an industry that is very attractive, as it is growth and change oriented, and as a result provides a variety of opportunities and career paths open to all. That is exciting and energizing.

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?)

LARSON: Years ago, I would see the same group of about 20 industry women at shows and events. We created meet-ups to get to know each other, listen, exchange experiences and offer help and advice.  Eventually a group of us founded the first professional association for women in the industry. Virtually overnight we heard from nearly 500 women! So, we knew things were changing. Many of us have built our careers in the industry, working hard, creating success for the companies we represent, and in opening success to others. In a relatively short period, the industry has come a long way, and is more open than ever before. 

Today, we have female CEOs and executives and many woman-owned companies. Recruiting women and men into the industry from many backgrounds, is key to continuously adding the best new talent. For women already here, take on new challenges, even when you may feel uncertain. Find people you respect, who are willing to provide coaching and mentoring. Persevere, set your ambitions high, learn, and always keep your eye on your next goal, while helping the next generation.

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

LARSON: The industry is ever evolving and can be quite complex. Keeping up with technology, products, and deepening technical integration solution knowledge can be challenging. Constant change used to feel overwhelming. Once I understood that change is a driver for me, I used it differently. Whenever I am most uncomfortable, I lean into that challenge. That has helped me to continuously learn, remain open to change, and to take on much more.

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

LARSON: I’ve had role models who illustrated clearly what not to do, and others who helped me to take very large steps. One of my first managers was female. Her standards were extremely high. At times I felt I would never measure up. In the end, she was one of my greatest advocates. I learned then that having someone who knew better than me what I was capable of, was invaluable. Another came at a very tough time. I was one of only a handful of female vice presidents at a multi-billion-dollar corporation.

The environment was extremely difficult. I learned tremendously and appreciated the opportunities provided but, I witnessed practices that were not acceptable. I had just completed a massive project and was contemplating next steps, including starting my own company. I decided to “interview” 10 people I respected to get their thoughts. One told me without hesitation to go for it. He told me that it would take five years to get the phone to ring on its own. He also gave me a check to put in the bank so that I knew it was there as “peace of mind.” I was the sole breadwinner in my household, so this was big. I took the leap and started my own company.

His sage advice, honesty, and belief in me, propelled me to always prioritize employee families standing behind me, to get the phone to ring on its own in under three years, and not to need the money he was willing to bet on me!

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

LARSON: Investing in yourself is key. Continuously expand your experiences and willingly put yourself out there to take on challenges.  Set goals, appreciate achievements, and build a career that strengthens you in your business and personal life. What I have learned throughout my career is that you are your best advocate for success.

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?

LARSON: The security industry continues to grow, change and evolve. As a technology and service industry, opportunities are enormous and will continue to be. We have learned to be adaptive, to be innovative.  As business leaders, remaining agile and open is critical to adapting, evolving and taking on new challenges. This is true not only in the solutions and services we provide but, in the opportunities we offer. A diverse landscape helps all of us to think differently, gain perspective and offer more. I believe as an industry, we are proving our willingness to meet these challenges at all levels and will continue to do so into the future.

SSN: Anything else that you would like to add?

LARSON: Thank you. I appreciate the recognition you and the Security Industry Association are bringing to women and diversity, as it is so important in encouraging many future leaders to come.


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