Consult Symposium Connects Security Pros to Design Safer Global Environment

Annual invitation-only security event designed on a smaller scale to ensure high-quality connectivity and unrushed dialogues.

Consult Symposium Connects Security Pros to Design Safer Global Environment

Photo by Paul Boucherle

Security consultants play a significant role in our security industry ecosystem.

Ray Coulombe, founder and managing director of SecuritySpecifiers, made sure their professional needs were met in Louisville, Ky., from Oct. 13-16 at the Consult 2023 Technical Security Symposium.

Why a weekend? Business 101; their revenues are based on billable hours during the work week. More importantly, their significant other deserves some fun time and appreciation for the hours and travel schedules they must endure with a busy consultant. Enter Consult to the rescue!

Consult 2023 is an invite-only event that’s intentionally designed on a smaller scale to ensure high quality connectivity, unrushed dialogues and to collaboratively help design a safer global environment.

Coulombe, a 40-plus-year industry veteran and innovator, created the most uniquely focused security event in our industry. His quote sums it up perfectly: “We run Consult like a block party. It’s not about the money; it’s about the experience.”

“Consultants earn continuing education credits towards their professional certifications with ASIS and BICSI organizations, says Coulombe. Keeping consultants current is a key goal of this symposium.

SIA has sponsored CONSULT annually since the event’s inception “to support consultants learning about certain technology trends and to foster additional dialogue between our manufacturer members and the consultant community,” says SIA CEO Don Erickson. “The event is an additional platform for SIA to promote key programs such as our Security Industry Cybersecurity Certification (SICC).”

Security consultants set the pace for thought leadership, technical competence, and pushing the envelope of security solution possibilities. This important group in our security eco system has been underserved by traditional security events which focus on manufacturers, end users, system integrators or frantic trade show booth speed dating.

Six years ago, this changed with the launch of the Consult Technical Security Symposium. This is a time to take your foot off the gas and tap the brakes.

Consult Technical Security Symposium

Photo by Paul Boucherle

Inside the Consult Technical Security Symposium

What makes this such a special industry event? In a word, the “vibe” that delivers positive energy, a different pace, and more depth for attendees. The secret sauce for the 240 people attending is both work and play. The program is always first class and often “over the top” exceeding expectations.

The recipe is to carefully mix top security consultants, manufacturer sponsors, leading system integrators, end user thought leaders, unique guest speakers, and the spouse/companion program. Brian Coulombe, senior manager of physical security in the Americas for Amazon, shared his concise description with “learning, working and fun.”

This tasty recipe expands and enriches your professional and personal network. Add a cup of incredibly fresh and relevant technical content, explore emerging threat vectors, roll up your sleeves with “hands on” learning labs, and add a pinch of incredible keynote speakers/panels. This blend enables deeper interactive dialogue and shakes out some new thinking to bake a savory security cake.

The icing consists of great adventures, and wining (OK, bourbon in some cases) and dining for all to relax and have fun. Is this just pure magic? Absolutely not!

It takes incredible planning, attention to the smallest details, flawless execution, and a very dedicated group of about 12 volunteers.

“This event enlightens everyone involved to gain a deeper understanding of how our industry works,” says Beth Anderson, senior channel marketing manager for commercial electronics at Allegion.

Consult Technical Security Symposium

Photo by Paul Boucherle

The 15 thought leaders on the advisory board help guide Consult organizers on top-of-mind content that makes this event leading edge education. The educational tracks included Specification & Projects (3), Identity (3), Cybersecurity (3), Special Topics (3) and Hands-On Learning Labs (4).

General sessions included a great keynote by William R. Evanina, Senate-approved director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NSCS), who addressed The Chinese Government Threat. He also led a great panel on port security for our container delivered supply chain. Fascinating discussion.

A thought-provoking panel of NextGen security consultants moderated by Chrissy McCutcheon CPP, principal and senior consultant at Security By Design, addressed Developing Your NextGen Security Consultants.

Another great panel moderated by Maria Gonzalez, principal and senior consultant at TEECOM, discussed the pros and cons of using NFC vs. BLE vs. UWB in security design specifications. Very helpful to me personally.

A unique aspect of Consult is the Spouse/Companion program. Travel and being away from family are a major part of the lives of so many in our industry. Coulombe is passionate about recognizing the sacrifices families may endure, so he takes the success of this program very seriously.

What better way to recognize this than by including those who must pick up the slack when their significant other is away for days and weeks throughout the year?

Coulombe’s wife and children initially took part in planning the Spouse/Companion program, but as their lives expanded with other commitments, he asked Jean Batten to head this program. He also asked if my wife, Jayne, would assist Batten.

For the past three years, Jayne has worked with Batten to plan fun events and wonderful places to shop and eat while the conference takes place. Everyone comes together for two evenings of dining and fun during Consult.

Planning begins in February each year. Jean and Jayne brainstorm to include events that will be fun and even educational. This year they made their own hats at Churchill Downs which were worn at the final dinner event at this same venue.

Friendships are developed and lots of laughs take place. Coulombe and Marcus and Jean Batten do a recon mission a few months before Consult to be sure everything meets with Coulombe’s approval.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the planning of Consult,” says Jayne Boucherle. “The attention to detail and genuine caring of Ray makes me feel honored that he has confidence in me to help. Jean is so much fun to work with! We leave each year wondering how we are going to top this.”

“Those in the spouse/companion program have a great time discovering the city we are in,” says Batten.

Consult exemplifies the willingness of everyone to help by sharing experiences and expertise. Egos are put aside at Consult. It’s a pleasure to be oneself and learn.

As in all security events of this magnitude, the sponsoring manufacturers and industry organizations deliver the commitment and financial muscle to make it happen.

“This is my favorite security event of the year,” says Ronnie Pennington, director of sales for the Americas at Altronix. “It enables a free exchange of ideas, challenges, best practices, new tools and emerging trends between leading security consultants, system integrators, end users and their security product suppliers.

“While consultants and manufacturers are in competition with each other, they leave that at the door, to collaborate on ideas that foster innovations that will follow,” he says.

Paul Boucherle, CPP, CSC, is the founder and principal of Matterhorn Consulting, LLC, and author of SSI’s “Business Fitness” column. Jayne Boucherle, CSC, is co-owner of Matterhorn Consulting.

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