At the Frontline: A Q&A with Unisys Director of Corporate Security Eileen Wieber

Unisys' Eileen Wieber discusses enterprise-wise operations, crisis management, and explaining ROI to corporate executives


Unisys' Director of Corporate Security Eileen Wieber is an ISMA member, and a security director for Fortune 1000-level corporation. She's currently facing issues of crisis management in our challenging times, and working on creating enterprise-wide security for the company. She recently shared her thoughts on security with SecurityInfoWatch.com as part of a new series, At the Frontline, that interviews senior level security directors.

SIW: Budgets for corporate security programs are often seen as a cost center rather than an investment. How do you balance spending on security with showing a return on investment to your company executives?

Wieber: The true balance that I see is cost versus risk, or risk management. With each expenditure on security-related assets, whether they are people or equipment, we must always weigh the cost of the asset versus the risk of not making the expenditure. I believe that's where security professionals can truly add value, with their ability to effectively make that assessment. In my opinion, security will always be considered a cost center to some degree, until a major incident occurs internally that affects the company. We have been able to show some ROI in utilizing technology versus labor costs. As technology becomes more prevalent in the security world, we certainly can calculate some ROI, but basically against labor costs.

SIW: What are some tips you've learned over the years about proving value of security investments to corporate executives?

Wieber: Some have used the formalization and standardization of our security and safety programs to realize reductions in our insurance premiums. It's difficult to "prove" anything as far as value. We have been able to show the value of security investments as it may affect the bottom line in dollars, such as insurance, business continuity and emergency preparedness. Other things are difficult to prove the value of until an incident occurs, and then we can say we're glad we made that investment.

SIW: You're currently beginning work on a series for Security Technology & Design magazine about women in the security industry. Can you provide us a glimpse into your own experiences as a woman in a top security position?

Wieber: I have tried to pride myself on the fact I do not attempt to distinguish myself from any other security professionals or peers. I don't feel that is appropriate to do so under any circumstances, professionally speaking. However, there are those special moments when proving you can do the job may be more challenging than a male counterpart might experience. Most of my peers, who are often men, are very respectful and do not make much distinctions. The challenge at times may be from management, which may have a preconceived notion of what a security professional should be -- maybe male, maybe a prior law enforcement or government agency employee. As a result, besides gender, there are peers of mine who may experience similar challenges because they may not have a law enforcement background. Perception is reality, and our profession is no different from any other.

My job is about being able to think on my feet and making the right decision in a split second. It's about earning the respect of my peers and co-workers. It's about being proactive, planning, ad being able to create policies and procedures.

When the day is done, and whether there exists a difference, either real or perceived, I love what I do and am proud to say I am a part of what I consider a great industry, male or female. There is a tremendous passion one must have for this job, which is what makes it so great to be a part of and which makes my peers so great to work with. Along with the passion for the job, though, there needs to be compassion.

SIW: At Unisys, you're not dealing with a one-location, one-facility type of security program, so what are some of the techniques and processes that your department uses to help ensure the safety of your overseas workers?

This content continues onto the next page...