SECURE Perspectives: Genetec’s Beth Phillips Reflects on Industry Trends, Diversity

Genetec technical account manager Beth Phillips is an AmbassadHER for the Security Industry Association’s Women in Security Forum.

SECURE Perspectives is a column by the Security Industry Association (SIA) profiling women in the security industry. This column is part of SIA’s Women in Security Forum (WISF), a community created to support the participation and advancement of women in the security industry that fosters growth and advancement through programs, professional development and networking opportunities.

For this edition of SECURE Perspectives, SIA spoke with Beth Phillips, technical account manager at Genetec and a WISF AmbassadHER.

SIA: How did you get into the security industry?

Beth Phillips: I entered the industry when I was 19. I saw an ad in a newspaper — yes, I’m that age — for a job as an emergency dispatcher for a large security monitoring company, and the pay was higher than what I was making at that time.

I was still young enough not to know what I wanted to do in life, but I was old enough to know I needed to “do” more as an adult. When I started my training, my team sat next to the tech support team, and I was just mesmerized. I knew I belonged somewhere in this field, and I was hungry for more.

Over the years in the industry, I was able to discover exactly where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. I spent the next years growing, learning and trying to reach the next level.

SIA: How does your organization serve the industry?

Phillips: Genetec provides unified security solutions to end users in all types of environments, including video, analytics, access control, biometrics, ALPR, cloud solutions and many options for integration of additional modules. We have a large partner portfolio to afford us the ability to provide this truly unified platform for our customers.

Genetec has done an amazing job as a leader in the industry and really knowing how to leverage new technology for the safety and security of people and property. Our platform allows customers to provide protection for what is most important, the people, while doing so in the most efficient and user-friendly ways.

SIA: What is your current position at Genetec?

Phillips: My title is technical account manager, and I work with the professional services team. In a nutshell, I have certain customers, for whom I am dedicated to being an internal advocate and making sure they have everything they need to get the most out of our software, whatever their specific needs may be.

SIA: What types of job functions do women fill at Genetec? Is there diversity of roles in your company or do women gravitate toward certain job functions?

Phillips: One of the things that I absolutely love about Genetec is the diversity. I’ve seen so many companies (and worked for a few in my career) where women are typically still holding only certain positions, but not others.

You can find women in virtually every team at Genetec. This can include engineering, technical support, professional services, sales, senior management, etc., which is great. This is a direct reflection of the culture that Genetec fosters for women in security: that we can accomplish almost any goals we desire within this company.

However, women still account for a smaller percentage in positions that have historically not been held by women. With the opportunities made available within Genetec, this appears to be more indicative of what we are still trying to overcome in the security industry as a whole, which is to let women know the opportunities exist and are within reach, should we want to pursue them.

SIA: With more and more data that shows diversity makes a better workforce, what opportunities do you see for women in the security industry?

Phillips: I see a lot more opportunities available for us in technical positions (e.g., engineering, field technicians), which is typically where diversity is lacking.

SIA: What impediments do you see for achieving this? What could remedy some of these impediments?

Phillips: We need to continue overcoming the idea that women are only drawn to, or capable of, holding certain positions and career paths. I think this can be achieved by women continuing to be strong and stepping up. If you see a position you want, go for it.

There have been several times that I have pursued positions that were typically held by my male counterparts, but I had to find out what qualifications were required and make that my goal. The unfortunate truth is that, in many cases, I had to become more qualified than the competition to even be considered. We need to level the playing field.

SIA: What do you see as important trends in the industry?

Phillips: Security is leaning a lot more on technology now, more than ever. We have evolved enough to realize that securing people and property doesn’t always mean someone else has to put their own safety at risk, in addition to bogging people down with having to sit behind a monitor as the only means for catching an incident in real time.

We can utilize camera analytics, license plate recognition (LPR), facial recognition, etc., to accomplish so much detection and identification, which can then be passed on to local law enforcement. In addition to providing standard security, all of this can also be used, for example, in health care, where we’re able to detect if a patient falls out of bed. It just amazes me how far we have come with technology.

SIA: More specifically, what trends are you seeing in Genetec’s space providing unified physical security solutions?

Phillips: Genetec’s customer base has continued to use more and more of the resources listed above. Our software platform gives users the ability to automate a response, based on what incident has taken place. In addition, we’ve seen most industries show a strong interest in taking efficiency even a step further and moving to a hybrid or full cloud environment.

This means that end users are not responsible for monitoring storage usage, running updates, monitoring servers for needed service, etc.; we do the work for them.

SIA: What are the top challenges your company has faced in the last year?

Phillips: Genetec has spent a lot of time in the past year continuing to push forward in giving our customers more cloud-based solutions, and we have dedicated a lot of resources to accomplishing this. I think overall, Genetec had a great year.

We have multiple positions open due to growth, and finding great talent seems to be a challenge within a lot of companies in the industry.

SIA: What are the biggest opportunities Genetec — and the industry — are facing?

Phillips: As more industries are seeing success with the software and hardware available to increase automation and overall efficiency, the demand is growing.

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

Phillips: I hope the Women in Security Forum can help to create more connections between women, in addition to recruiting into our industry. I think we all need a support system and mentoring within our careers, and WISF can foster that.

In addition, WISF is a great resource for women at the beginning stage of the careers, and I hope they continue to strengthen the resources offered for entry and advancement in security.

SIA: What is your best advice for women in the industry?

Phillips: We have come so far, and it takes every one of us to continue to push forward and overcome the stigma. Always remember that the next generation is watching, and they will be grateful for our contribution to paving the way for women.

SIA: Who or what was the strongest influence in your career?

Phillips: I have been lucky enough to have met so many powerful and just all-around good people in my career that it’s hard to nail down the strongest influence. I have had several strong influences that I was able to work with at just the right time, based on whatever I was trying to accomplish. I am forever grateful to all of them.

As crazy as it sounds, what came to mind first was the one person in my career who told me I would never be able to accomplish what I wanted to. I will never forget that day. I felt like the wind was taken out of me. I cried, I was angry and so on.

By the next day, I’d made the decision that I was in fact going to accomplish what I wanted to do. I forged my path and never looked back.

SIA: How do you define success, whether at Genetec or in life in general?

Phillips: Success is feeling fulfilled, whatever that means to you. My success is a direct reflection of having the career that I want and continuing to figure out what the next level is going to be, and how to get there. I don’t feel the life drained out of me at the end of the work week, and I genuinely love what I do. That’s success.

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

Phillips: Make connections and be as prepared as you can be. Be ready to take charge of your own career, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do whatever you aspire to do. Reach out on LinkedIn, join SIA WISF, etc.; there are so many networking options available for women, so jump in and find a mentor (or more than one).

You are helping pave the way for even better diversity and inclusion in the future. It’s not the easiest path, but the more we do it, the easier it will be in the future.

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