Security Consultant Talks Privacy Concerns, Convergence of Physical & Cyber Tech
Angela Osborne, regional director of Guidepost Solutions, also discusses security trends and the importance of joining industry organizations.
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 Angela Osborne, regional director of the security and technology consulting practice at Guidepost Solutions. Osborne is based at Guidepost Solutions’ Washington, D.C., office.
SIA: How did you get into the security industry?
Angela Osborne: Before I began my master’s program in security studies at Georgetown University, I met the CEO of an energy company based in Abu Dhabi in a poker game at my college campus. I won the hand, and he asked me to send him my resume. That summer, I began my career in the United Arab Emirates. In college, I had been an intern for Archer Daniel Midland’s corporate security team, where I recognized a career in security would afford me the ability to pursue my passion for international relations, history, traveling and languages.
How does your organization serve the industry?
Guidepost Solutions is a security and investigations firm serving clients in diverse sectors, including health care, education, corporate real estate and technology. We have two divisions: Monitoring Compliance and Investigations and Security & Technology Consulting. In 2017, Guidepost Solutions won the Organization Award of Merit from the ASIS International Professional Certification Board for our commitment to continuing security education and certification. Our team members serve in leadership roles and participate throughout professional security organizations, including the ASIS Commission on Standards and Guidelines, InfraGard, the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety, the ASIS Women in Security Council and the ASIS Young Professional Council.
What is your current role?
I serve as the regional director for the security and technology consulting group in Guidepost Solutions’ Washington, D.C., office, where I specialize in conducting threat assessments, performing security risk assessments and assisting clients in crisis management training, simulations and program development. I work with a variety of sectors and clients from the second most populous county in the United States to a multinational alcoholic beverages firm to the third-ranked hospital in the nation to numerous public and private schools. I love working with my clients and like to learn about their industries, operations and history.
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?
Guidepost Solutions is a model organization for empowering women in the security field. In our company, women serve at all levels — as security consultants, investigators, directors of compliance, managing directors and regional directors, in addition to senior leadership, including vice president of HR and CEO. We have so many capable, dynamic women leaders in Guidepost, starting at the top with our CEO, Julie Myers Wood, who encourages us daily with her work ethic, innovation and support.
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?
I see considerable opportunities for women in the security field. In my career, I have been fortunate to work with great colleagues who encouraged me and other women. I have also benefited via the mentorship of both men and women working in the field. I see organizations, such as ASIS International, OSAC and SIA, reaching out to women and young professionals at higher commitment levels than I have ever seen in the past. I believe that major impediments often come from the pressure we place on ourselves and our outside obligations. I am fortunate to have a very supportive husband and family who always encourage me and work with my hectic schedule.
What do you see as important technology trends in the security industry?
The security field is influenced by emerging technologies on a daily basis. The most prolific that I see in a general sense is the continued converge of physical and cybersecurity technologies. We see more technology firms bringing innovations to traditional physical security systems, such as access control, surveillance and intrusion detection. My concern is that these firms might overlook the body of knowledge on physical security cultivated by veterans in the field and miss valuable opportunities to leverage it and create more robust, practical technology solutions. This also plays an important role in the convergence of security departments and necessitates that we expand our knowledge each day.
More specifically, what key trends do you see when it comes to the security, investigative, compliance and monitoring field?
One of the key trends I see on the periphery is the massive collection of data occurring via technology systems. A number of clients are looking at security technologies, such as facial recognition, hand geometry and iris scanners, outside of restrictive areas, where they have typically been applied. While privacy concerns are ever present, we see a greater acceptance by members of the public for entities to collect data on them, including biometrics. This is a trend that concerns me, particularly for young people who are exposed to it from an early age via photos on social media, phone and text data and internet search collection. Guidepost is well-matched to address these issues as we combine security, investigations, compliance and monitoring and view issues from operational, legal and technology perspectives.
What are the top challenges and opportunities your company is seeing going into 2019?
Guidepost Solutions had a very successful year and is engaging with many longstanding and new clients. This means that our teams throughout all levels of our organization are incredibly busy working to support these clients. While it can be challenging providing the level of support across clients, we see this as an opportunity to leverage new collaborative technologies, add accomplished new members to our team and continue our commitment to industry education.
What do you hope the Women in Security Forum can achieve for the security industry?
My hope is that the Women in Security Forum can work with other organizations, such as the ASIS Women in Security Council and Young Professionals Council, and OSAC’s Women in Security initiative, to attract more women to the security field and offer opportunities to share learnings, support each other and strategically network.
What advice would you give women who are in the industry?
My advice would be to engage in organizations like SIA’s Women in Security Forum, ASIS and OSAC as early as possible. Take advantage of opportunities when they arise, network and build meaningful relationships with others in the field and push yourself to continue learning about our field. At times, it will be uncomfortable, but it is good to be outside of your comfort zone and helps you to grow your network, knowledge base and resilience.
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 always been driven internally to succeed, but this spark has been nurtured by my parents, teachers, mentors and champions at work. I believe that you get out of life what you put into it. For me, success is knowing that you did the best job possible and exceeded your own expectations. Success from an overarching perspective is knowing you take advantage of relevant opportunities (even if they are outside of your comfort zone), make responsible decisions, support your family and close friends and encourage others both by your example and your thoughtful advice.
How do you achieve work/life balance?
For me, work/life balance is always in flux. Some weeks I feel that I have a good balance, and other weeks I accept that I am going to be busy and likely unable to be truly balanced. As a millennial and a consultant, my approach focuses on dividing out time and setting reasonable goals for myself and transitioning from different mindsets. When I am meeting with a potential new client, presenting to an organization or conducting assessment interviews, I am focused on connecting with people, anticipating what they might ask and providing compelling examples. It is a period where I must be an outgoing extrovert.
When I am drafting a written assessment report, reviewing crisis management plans or preparing a proposal, I am focused on research and deep thought. As someone who does both daily, my balance is identifying times and venues where I can complete both optimally (given the many constraints on my time). I find that working on reports and written products on the weekend and early in the morning is best for me, as I can work without having interruptions and distractions (such as email, phone calls and people stopping by my office). I also try to review my schedule in advance to understand when deadlines will occur and prioritize what I need to get done.
What would you say to new women coming into the industry?
I would encourage upcoming women in the industry to get involved in security organizations and actively participate. My career has been shaped by networking and relationships. Most people in our industry do not progress in their careers without networking. It is a small world, and your reputation and relationships matter. Start building them early by volunteering for these organizations, studying our field and being authentic.
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