Ray O’Hara, CPP, began a one-year term as president of ASIS Int’l on Jan. 1. He now takes the reins in executing the organization’s strategic plans, which he’s been intimately involved with the previous four years as a board member. O’Hara is executive vice president, international services and consulting and investigations, for Andrews Int’l, a provider of security and risk mitigation services.
Is there a particular initiative you want to see accomplished this year?
I am supporting a couple of initiatives very strongly — young professionals and women in security. Both of those are important to us for growth and for long-term stability. The ASIS organization is a second-career organization. Members come into this organization, oftentimes from the law enforcement community, with some pretty rigid thinking. So we want to work on that because the business aspects of security are very important to all of us, including the integrator community.
But the younger professionals and the women in security are becoming more visible, so we feel very strongly that we have to have a roadmap to help them find positions that support our industry. We need to give them avenues to take a real hard look at this as a career.
What do you see as the best opportunities right now for systems integrators?
With the enterprise issues that are facing organizations, you have to deal with what you have. Those days of ripping everything out and replacing is just not going to happen anymore. So integrators have to be creative in ways that support the corporate security mission of the organization if there is one. There should be a security plan and a physical security roadmap. And that can’t always be with brand new equipment that doesn’t speak to what’s installed.
Integrators are an integral part of the security program because you have to have reliable equipment. As we progress more and more to an Internet-based security program with the IP cameras, voice over IP, all that stuff, we’ll be running programs globally. The days of the fences are important, but they’re not that important in a sense. Intellectual property is speeding by at a blink of an eye today and something that you can’t see or touch.
How would you assess the progress America has made post-9/11 in protecting its people?
I certainly think we’ve come a long way and we’re better for it. Is there still a way to go? Yes. We’re continuing on into this environment that’s electronic and moving quickly into the cloud-based computing and other things like that. Our challenges are not over in not only protecting assets of organizations, but the people that work in those organizations and the people that move around the world in their jobs. That’s where all of us, manufacturers, practitioners, and others, have to come together and make sure we have a vision that we’re all kind of going in the right direction.