Roundtable: 7 security chiefs weigh in on current business issues

Aug. 26, 2009, Dallas, Texas -- At the Carrollton, Texas, offices of ADT Security Services, corporate security directors and police chiefs weighed in this week on the nature of their duties in today's world. Following the discussion, which was provided to a "summit" of various trade media publications, it was clear that for the security executives, whether they're having to make decisions on technology or align their department with business operations, the decisions aren't easy and require an amazing amount of departmental self-knowledge. The panel included (seated left to right in accompanying photo), Jay Montgomery, corporate director of security for oil-and-gas pipeline company Kinder Morgan; Ken LeCesne, global director of security for technology services company Perot Systems; Robert Picasio, senior manager of global security affairs for commercial gaming services company GTECH; Ty Morrow, police chief (retired) of Bryan, Texas; Peter Scheets, deputy police chief of Bryan, Texas; and Steve Foster, police chief of McGregor, Texas. All individuals were customers of ADT's services.

Without reproducing the entire roundtable, we pulled the "quotable quotes", the most salient parts of the discussion that SIW thinks are relevant to any corporate security director struggling with managing and operating a corporate security presence. Take these little nuggets of wisdom back to your own operations to improve your business efforts.

On aligning your goals with the company/organization:

"My main goals are managing our risk, so that we can continue our core business of safely operating our assets. We have to have processes to assist us. And anytime you can demonstrate how you are helping your customers, it's a business benefit."
-- Jay Montgomery/Kinder Morgan:

"We try to build relationships with the company's other business units – the ones that bring in the money – so that we are enablers. We think about how we are also customer service; the first person any of our visitors meets is the security person at the gate and the second person is often the one that provides them an access control or visitor card."
-- Ken LeCesne, Perot Systems

"We want to be a strategic partner for the business. It's all about making sure our internal and external customers are safe."
-- Robert Picasio, GTECH

"I was able to come into an organization [the city of Bryan, Texas] that wasn't accustomed to being engaged [by police decision makers]. You have to pick the brains of the power brokers, because that gets them on board and eliminates pushback."
-- Ty Morrow/Bryan, Texas

On finding funding and dealing with limited budgets:

"Having worked in multiple layers of law enforcement, I was under the false impression that there would be no bureaucracy in private business [general laughter erupted from the panel and the audience]. You have to make the business case for anything, and there was no training (to move from law enforcement to commercial security). It was sink or swim. You have to get that seat at the table. You need to be the one to explain the risk and the need. You have to get the people who make the decisions to listen to you. … Not being able to travel is making us get creative on how we do our employee training. We're doing more web conferencing, but it's harder when they're not face to face."
--Ken LeCesne, Perot Systems

"Having come from the state world of law enforcement [he was with the Texas Rangers] to a small city, it's been very humbling to have to ask for money and not get it."
--Steve Foster/McGregor, Texas

"We need to be bigger, better and faster with less people and less money. We have to lean on our partners to help us trim costs. We have to reevaluate what we're doing, why we're doing it, and whether we can do it less expensively."
-- Robert Picasio, GTECH

On choosing new technologies

"Before I make a move, I want to do the in-depth research before I ever consider deploying a system. Before we bring on a new technology, we have to make a business case that shows it makes us more efficient."
-- Peter Scheets/Bryan, Texas

"The integrators have to be flexible with the systems they provide; they can't bring us a cookie-cutter solution."
-- Robert Picasio, GTECH

"Automation, integration and compliance are the three things that shape what we do with security systems. We are also learning about the value of SMS type text messaging in an emergency environment [when some modes of communication are clogged or down]."
-- Ken LeCesne, Perot Systems

"I realized the value of communication systems recently. We did an exercise recently for hazardous materials, and we realized the main problem was that we couldn't all get the radios to work together."
-- Steve Foster/McGregor, Texas

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