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Women in Security: Mary Beth Shaughnessy

Women in Security: Mary Beth Shaughnessy Reed Exhibitions veteran shines as ISC Events Director

Mary Beth Shaughnessy, who is active in the SIA Women in Security Forum, is first to point out that the group's mission is to promote, recruit and cultivate the leadership of women for a more inclusive and diversified industry.

“We do this through offering programs, professional development opportunities and networking events,” she explained. “The diverse group is comprised of industry executives who hold many different positions within security organizations. It is always interesting to hear how people started their careers and have moved into leadership/management roles.”

She continued, “I'm a prime example — I started in a customer service role at Reed, moved into a management role and am now ISC Event Director, overseeing all show logistics for ISC East and ISC West. While we know we still have a long way to go, we do feel that the industry is more diverse and the number of women entering the security industry and moving into management/leadership roles is on the rise.”

Shaughnessy started her career with Reed Exhibitions 10 years ago, but ISC West was the first show where she assisted on-site.

“After this show, I knew I wanted to work more closely with these customers and become more ingrained in their industry,” she said. “The company agreed and placed me on the ISC Events Show team as Manager of the ISC Executive's Club. If you told me 10 years ago I would develop such an enthusiasm for security, I would've said you were crazy. But since then, I've made many close friends and found I really love working with all our security customers. I've discovered I now share their same passion for the industry, and I can't imagine working on any other Reed Exhibition Show.”

In terms of role models, Shaughnessy said that question is easy. “Since day one, Sandy Jones, founder and principal, Sandra Jones and Company, has been my mentor, role model and my biggest cheerleader. Within weeks of first joining the ISC team, Sandy gave me my first necessary and extremely helpful Security 101 crash course. She then met me at an industry event and introduced me to many industry leaders and customers. If you know Sandy, you know she is connected and friends with almost everyone involved in security! Seven years later, I still rely on Sandy to share insights, make suggestions and assist on ISC projects. She is a true leader in the industry and I wouldn't be where I am today without her guidance and support.”

Shaughnessy said she does see the industry “changing slowly to make room for more female perspectives, especially as we move into a more 'connected' world and physical and IT/Cyber converge. The industry is moving forward.”

She continued, “It can be challenging to stay on top of all the new products and technologies constantly introduced into the marketplace. It just means I have to dedicate more time and resources to staying in touch with innovation. There is an abundance of education available, between webinars, articles, social media posts, conferences/shows, and of course the SIA Education@ISC sessions that help me keep current on security issues and solutions introduced.”

For other women looking to advance their career, Shaughnessy said it is important to continue to make connections and build relationships.

“Everyone has a story,” she said. “Speak to anyone you know currently working in the industry and hear how they first broke into the security space. Learning about their experiences can teach you powerful lessons and help you determine the right role or position for

She continued, “Most importantly, don't be afraid to take risks and try new things! You are at an advantage. The industry is facing a talent shortage and recognizing the power of women and the importance of diversifying the workforce. While you might think security isn't for you, or that it's only a male industry, take a chance on it! You will be constantly challenged. It's fast-paced, everyone is very smart, and there are endless learning opportunities!”


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