The Women’s Security Council, a not-for-profit organization, presented its second annual Women of the Year Awards Tuesday evening at Pinot Brasserie in the Venetian Hotel in conjunction with ISC West 2013. The winners were selected from a variety of security industry ranks for their contributions to furthering women in the security industry and mentoring individuals to success.
Awards were presented by Rhianna Daniels, managing director of Compass Public Relations, a founding committee member of the organization. Submissions were provided from the industry at large and an independent panel reviewed the entries and selected awards for end users, manufacturers, systems integrators and media categories. “Our goal is to empower women to realize professional success as industry leaders and these winners are to be congratulated for their efforts,” Daniels said.
Winners share their thoughts
In the systems integrator category, two awards were presented, one to Mary Jo Cornell, president and CEO of Linstar Inc. in Buffalo, N.Y., and the other to Pam Petrow, president and CEO of Vector Security in Warrendale, Pa.
“It’s always a special honor to be recognized by one’s peers, and I am humbled to be included in the company of the security industry’s female superstars,” said Mary Jo Cornell. “I have enjoyed 25 years in the security industry, in several capacities and have found it to be personally gratifying and professionally rewarding,” she said. Cornell said that the industry has come a long way since her initial introduction to it—especially in recent years.
“When I first started attending ISC and ASIS, there were far fewer women. Exhibitors used to look past me as if they were trying to figure out where the men I must be tagging along with were—so they could address them instead. Today, many of the most knowledgeable and resourceful vendor partners I work with are women and we are calling on more female decision makers in the security world than ever before.”
Pam Petrow of Vector Security handed praise to WSC for promoting the professional success of women in the security industry. “The security space offers tremendous opportunity for smart, confident and talented women. It is an exciting place to be with the changes in technology offering new opportunities as well as new challenges. We need more individuals who are willing to embrace these changes as we reshape the industry and continue to make sure we are relevant to both residential and commercial consumers. This transition is a perfect time for women to seek out and become engaged with companies that are looking for new talent that can bring fresh perspective and creative solutions to a traditional and sometimes old-school industry,” she said.
Donna Kobzaruk, vice president of Global Security and Investigations for JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Chicago commented that it is critical for any industry, particularly one that deals with safety and security, to embrace diversity of thought that women provide. “Otherwise, there’s a significant missed opportunity for growth, or even failure, when industries continue operating in a myopic world.”
Kobzaruk mentors others in the industry and believes this is a critical component to success. “Each of us should take another female under our wings and groom her to be a success. Initiatives such as mentoring programs, or membership to organizations such as the Women's Security Council, make significant impact to the women in the security industry. I'm lucky to be part of all!”
In the manufacturer category, Bodil Sonesson, vice president of Global Sales for Axis Communications, based in Chelmsford, Mass., echoed the sentiments of Kobzaruk with regards to diversity in the security industry.
“All research today shows that having gender diversity in management teams and within executive boards brings better results for companies and there is now more open discussion about this topic than ever before. Still I think that we have a long way to go.” She added that at Axis, openness is an inherent part of the company’s culture, which has assisted her in her career aspirations.