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JCI Exec Shares Benefits of a Diverse Workforce, Tech Trends in Security Industry

Johnson Controls’ Lisa Roy delves into her experience in the security industry and gives advice in this month’s SECURE Perspectives column.

JCI Exec Shares Benefits of a Diverse Workforce, Tech Trends in Security Industry

SECURE Perspectives is a monthly column by the Security Industry Association (SIA) profiling women in the security industry. This column is part of SIA’s Women in Security Forum, an initiative to support the participation of women in the security field through programs, professional development and networking events.

For this edition of SECURE Perspectives, SIA spoke with Lisa Roy, vice president and general manager of systems, services and solutions at Johnson Controls, a global diversified technology and multi-industrial leader serving a range of customers in more than 150 countries.

Roy leads commercial sales for the company’s building technologies and solutions group in North America across fire, security and HVAC.

How did you get into the security industry?

I began my career 23 years ago with Johnson Controls as an application engineer, and since then I have enjoyed a number of different roles in sales, leadership and general management in various businesses within Johnson Controls. Over that time, I’ve witnessed the fascinating evolution of the buildings and energy industry and have been a champion for transforming infrastructure to facilitate service, growth and innovation.

Earlier in my career and prior to the integration with Tyco, I was vice president and general manager for Johnson Controls North America Security and Fire, so I have firsthand understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities facing the security industry.

Lisa Roy, vice president and general manager of systems, services and solutions at Johnson Controls.

How does your organization serve the industry?

Johnson Controls firmly believes in taking proactive measures to prepare for a more productive, secure and sustainable future. We create intelligent buildings, efficient energy solutions, integrated infrastructure and next-generation transportation systems that work seamlessly together to deliver on the promise of smart cities and communities.

Integrated security systems play an integral role in building operations. With more than 500 offices worldwide, we work with businesses across industries to identify and analyze security issues and develop a unique, integrated approach that addresses a buildings unique needs.

Johnson Controls’ “technology convergence approach” enables more control and better automation so the building can operate more efficiently and sustainably while improving comfort and safety.

Technology is changing rapidly and producing an availability of data and easier ways to connect, which creates opportunities to aggregate that critical data, analyze it and produce meaningful insights for organizations. This changes the game from smart buildings and systems to smart environments, communities and cities. We are helping to connect the environment to people where they work, live and play.

What is your current role?

 I lead commercial sales for Johnson Controls’ Building Technologies and Solutions Group in North America across fire, security and HVAC, including systems, services and energy performance contracting. I’m responsible for driving sales strategy and commercial excellence for the direct channel business and its profitable growth year over year.

What types of job functions do women fill in your company? Is there diversity of roles in your company, or do women gravitate towards certain job functions?

Women are integral to the success of Johnson Controls and contribute at every level of the business. As a proof point, Johnson Controls is frequently acknowledged for its efforts to further diversity and inclusion in the workplace by external organizations and publications alike.

It is Johnson Controls’ mission to serve as an industry role model for diversity and inclusion. A diverse workforce enables the company to be:

  • Smarter, bringing more ideas, perspectives and experiences to solving problems, responding to customers and innovating
  • More accessible to more customers, suppliers and markets
  • More responsive through faster issue resolution, risk mitigation efficiency and accuracy
  • More capable, through greater access to a broader base of talent that stays longer and is more productive
  • More engaging, by inviting more individuals the opportunity to bring their whole self to work
  • Better performers than non-diverse and non-inclusive cultures on most measures of financial performance

With more and more data that shows diversity makes a better workforce, what opportunities do you see for women in the security industry? What impediments do you see for achieving this? What could remedy some of these impediments?

In the coming years, the security industry will face a significant skills gap as seasoned professionals retire, which creates a unique opportunity for the security industry to bridge the gender gap evident in traditionally male-oriented leadership roles.

To successfully advance women in the industry, both men and women alike must overcome the preconceived notion that the security sector is male-driven. As an industry, we should be actively seeking to hire, retain and promote women.

Moreover, it is important for businesses to take the initiative to educate graduates about existing opportunities in the industry. Partnerships to encourage increased collaboration are quintessential for businesses to make progress in this area.

To create and sustain a diverse and inclusive workplace, Johnson Controls actively partners with organizations year-round on different programs, including national recruiting events, networking opportunities and local schools to collaborate on a focused curriculum to learn the necessary skills to succeed in the security industry.

I am proud to work for a company that wholeheartedly believes diversity and inclusion matter and make a difference. By embracing the true value of diversity and inclusion, getting comfortable with having important conversations and valuing different perspectives, businesses can create a culture of inclusion that encourages and supports women in the security industry.

What do you see as important technology trends in the security industry?

Big data is fundamentally changing how we operate buildings, integrate solutions and objectively evaluate outcomes and serves as a proof point to helps us service our customers, make factual recommendations and acquire insights about security and building systems. The additional insights help successful security professionals know how to interpret and translate analytics into tangible results for our customers.  

What do you hope the Women in Security Forum can achieve for the security industry?

 My hope is that the Women in Security Forum will educate women about the diverse range of opportunities available in the security industry and encourage them to pursue, or at a minimum consider, careers in this industry.

What advice would you give women who are in the industry?

State clearly what you want out of your career; if you don’t know, do self-reflection to find out. Leverage your strengths and energy. Take risks. Be a constant learner. Find a mentor, and be a mentor. Find your grit.

Who or what was the strongest influence in your career (e.g. a mentor, an event that inspired your career decision)? How do you define success?

I have had many mentors and great leaders who have positively influenced my life. I think it is extremely important to have mentors or coaches who understand your strengths and opportunities for improvement and give you rich feedback only for the purpose of helping you.  I often look to those key relationships for different things – some for career advice and others for support on a specific job or how to more effectively manage a new team.

One pivotal move in my career was going to do a global strategy role for a new business initiative. I was leaving a North America sales leadership role for an organization where I had spent 12 years in various sales and leadership roles. The move was risky and ambiguous, but the learning was tremendous.

I gained a deep understanding of global markets and how to evaluate market dynamics and developed an executive pro forma that was approved for a new business. After two years, I was chosen to be the vice president and general manager of that business to implement the strategy and bring to life what I had put on paper. It was significantly harder to implement that strategy than to write it up – and far more rewarding.

How do you achieve work/life balance?

I work at it every day. Two foundational things are important to me: my supportive husband – he is helpful, and I couldn’t do it without him – and the leader that I work for who values family.  Those are important to support the decisions I have to make. I spend most of my free time with my kids, and we work to “outsource” activities for running our life that take away quality time with them.

My measure of success is the happiness of my husband and my kids — that lets me know if we are in check. I am also incredibly mindful of how I take care of myself. I can’t be a good parent, wife or leader if I don’t take care of my energy level. I need sleep and to eat right and exercise — without that, I can be impatient, unable to solve problems and not very mindful of those around me.

It is common to think that you could skip yoga or sleep to do more work or squeeze something else in — but it is actually worse. Those critical engagements with my kids or employees isn’t me at my best. I do think it is important to manage your energy level and whatever that means for you that is personal. What works for me may not work for some.  When it comes to work/life balance, you really have to measure success on your own terms.

What would you say to new upcoming women in the industry?

Build a network of women in the industry, then leverage each other as you migrate through your career and your life. Those relationships can be critical because those ladies in the network really understand your world and life and provide a great outlet for challenges you may face in your career or at home.

Secondly, I would encourage new upcoming women to take on risks and opportunities to learn — you will grow and stretch through those uncomfortable positions. Just jump in.

Finally, no matter what happens, always look back and ask yourself what you could have done or what you could do better.  It is the only thing you can control and will drive continuous improvement and learning.

Don’t give up — keep going. Know that failure will happen, that it is temporary and that the true test is how you respond to it. This drive for excellence and demonstration of perseverance is the road to success.

Learn more about Johnson Controls.

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