SECURE Perspectives: WISF AmbassadHER Liliana Blythe on Diversity in Security

AK Technologies project manager Liliana Blythe advocates for increase of women in security industry in her WISF role.

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), an initiative to support the participation of women in the security field through programs, networking and professional growth events, and thought leadership opportunities.

 For this edition of SECURE Perspectives, SIA spoke with Liliana Blythe, project manager at AK Technologies, who is also a WISF AmbassadHER.

 SIA: How did you get into the security industry?

Liliana Blythe: I often ask those in the security industry how they got started, as it’s a fascinating journey for many.

I stumbled into the field quite by accident, like many others. A recruiter reached out to me for a project coordinator role with an integrator. Despite competing with 20 other applicants through three rounds of interviews, I was selected to join a fantastic project and an exceptional team.

Little did I anticipate how much I would fall in love with this career path. Working alongside dedicated individuals who took immense pride in their work, I found my footing in the industry. Looking back at my humble beginnings in 2014, I cherish the time spent with that team, as it laid the foundation for my passion in the security sector.

SIA: How does your organization serve the industry?

Blythe: AK Technologies is a premier security integrator catering to every sector, with a primary focus on commercial, manufacturing and multitenant. Our mission is to offer a service where our clients feel genuinely valued and listened to and can rely on us for their security needs day in and day out.

Whether it’s installation of any project size or comprehensive project management, we aspire to be our customers’ top service provider.

SIA: What is your current position?

Blythe: I am a part of AK Technologies as a project manager, specializing in service-oriented projects. In this role, I am responsible for managing key client accounts and overseeing projects of various scopes and sizes.

With a dynamic team of talented technicians, our collective goal is to not only meet but exceed customer expectations by delivering solutions that align with their visions.

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

Blythe: AK Technologies is a company that takes pride in its diverse and inclusive team. Being a minority business enterprise, certified as a historically underutilized business and also a disadvantaged business enterprise, our company is driven by diversity and inclusion.

As a company, AK Technologies strongly believes in empowering women professionals and providing ample opportunities for their growth. Our team comprises talented women who excel in various roles, such as chief administrative officer, project manager, service manager, project coordinator and accountant.

We firmly believe that there are no limitations to what women can achieve in our company. As a result, we are actively seeking to recruit female talent. It’s incredibly exciting to witness the industry’s growth in this aspect.

SIA: 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?

Blythe: I strongly believe in the transformative power of diversity in fostering a more enriching workplace environment. Embracing a diverse team not only cultivates innovation but also enables a company to flourish by drawing upon a wealth of experiences from individuals of varied backgrounds, genders, sexual orientations and nationalities.

In particular, I’ve witnessed the remarkable success of women within the security industry excelling in multifaceted roles that encompass technological expertise, physical installations and operational proficiency.

By actively providing opportunities for growth and development within the company, we can further harness the potential of every individual, driving both personal and organizational success.

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

Blythe: Undoubtedly, the two most significant trends shaping our industry are cloud services and artificial intelligence (AI). Their impact has been profound, and I feel it’s just getting started even though these are already incorporated into many of our lives without us even thinking about it. It’s a great time to be alive!

SIA: More specifically, what trends are you seeing in AK Technologies’ space as a full-suite systems integrator?

Blythe: The rapid evolution of technology — especially in the realm of security — is truly exhilarating. The integration of AI and advanced security capabilities into security systems represents a significant leap forward.

The trend of AI and cloud systems underscores their indispensable role in shaping the future of security. As someone deeply involved in the installation and service aspect for customers, I find it both thrilling and rewarding to deploy these cutting-edge solutions that directly benefit end users on a daily basis.

Embracing these innovations not only presents exciting challenges but also ensures that we consistently deliver the latest and most impactful technologies that are reshaping and advancing our industry.

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

Blythe: For AK Technologies, like numerous other companies, expanding our team of technicians has presented a considerable challenge. In an industry experiencing rapid growth, keeping pace with the demand for security installations can be daunting.

This trend has had a significant impact on the sector, prompting initiatives like the Foundation for Advancing Security Talent (FAST) to promote growth and opportunities within the security industry.

SIA: What are the biggest opportunities your company – and the industry – are seeing?

Blythe: The industry as a whole is currently brimming with opportunities, particularly here in central Texas. The demand for security services is skyrocketing, fueled by the emergence of new businesses, startups and a surge in manufacturing activities.

Schools are also increasingly prioritizing security measures. At AK Technologies, our foremost opportunity lies in managing our growth effectively. While the high demand is a blessing, it brings its own set of challenges; however, it pushes us to think big while maintaining our commitment to customer satisfaction.

We prioritize quality over quantity, ensuring that our installation standards remain impeccable and that our work never falters. With a diverse clientele, we strive to be a dependable partner, always acting in our customers’ best interests.

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

Blythe: I believe this initiative will shine a spotlight on the women who play vital roles both behind the scenes and on the front lines of the security industry. Throughout my encounters, I’ve had the privilege of meeting numerous remarkable women who have dedicated decades to the field and serve their communities in various capacities — from manufacturing to distribution and integration, among others.

My goal is to raise awareness of these talented women and garner the support they deserve. This initiative aims to provide mentorship, education opportunities, networking platforms and a shared vision to drive inclusivity across the industry and foster better communication.

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

Blythe: My top advice for women in the industry is to embrace continuous learning. Knowledge transcends gender and empowers us all. Keep seeking knowledge and self-invest: It’s the key to success. Let’s support each other in our journeys.

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

Blythe: I’ve been fortunate to be guided by exceptional leadership, which has played a significant role in broadening my industry knowledge. At AK Technologies, our leadership has empowered me to step beyond my comfort zone and realize my potential.

Their unwavering support — both professionally and through involvement with organizations like SIA’s Women in Security Forum — has been invaluable. Throughout my journey in the industry, I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with incredible individuals who have taught me so much and who continue to inspire me.

During my early days, Jared Schroeder served as a mentor whose guidance and belief in my abilities fueled my growth. Similarly, Lindsay Jones Reece — as both a woman and a mentor — has profoundly influenced my career trajectory through her unwavering support and encouragement of my ideas and development.

I’m grateful for the numerous individuals who have influenced me along my journey, too many to mention individually. The unwavering support and admiration from my peers have been invaluable. Building and maintaining strong relationships is crucial in this closely knit industry, and I’m fortunate to have such a supportive network.

SIA: How do you define success?

Blythe: Success is deeply personal, with each person having their own measure. For me, it’s about waking up every day to do what I love and having the freedom to be authentic.

Continuous personal growth — both spiritual and professional — leads to true fulfillment. Comparing ourselves to others only diminishes our happiness.

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

Blythe: For the new and emerging female talent in the industry, I’d advise embracing the ample room for growth. Be true to yourself and seek out supportive connections. The security industry offers abundant opportunities for making a meaningful impact, fueled by support, knowledge and confidence.

Be part of the SIA Women in Security Forum and be part of the movement! The sky’s the limit!

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