Allegion’s Erin Mann Talks Access Control Trends in the Multifamily Space

In this month’s SECURE Perspectives, Mann covers the evolution of the security industry’s diversity, her definition of success and much more.

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 Erin Mann, strategy and marketing manager, multifamily, at Allegion Canada Inc.

SIA: How did you get into the security industry?

Erin Mann: I didn’t join the industry on purpose — I didn’t really have any knowledge about it when I was applying for jobs after college. I went to DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., and majored in communications. I knew I wanted a job doing marketing, but I never had my heart set on a specific role or industry. After I graduated, an opportunity to join Allegion was brought to my attention, and I loved what I learned about the company, its culture and its purpose, so I accepted the role. I’m in my fourth role with Allegion now and hope to build and grow my career in the security industry for the long haul.

How does your organization serve the industry?

I really love Allegion because it serves the industry in so many ways. We’re a hardware manufacturing company, but so much more. Allegion is a thought leader for the global industry — our people use their voices, knowledge and platforms to encourage innovation, ethical security and seamless access for a safer world. We have well-established internships and early career apprenticeship programs that serve to continue bringing in new and passionate talent into the security industry. Allegion has many subject matter experts who work within the industry in partnership with SIA and ASIS, as well as support for programs like SIA’s AcceleRISE conference for young professionals in the industry.

What is your current role?

I’m currently based in Toronto, Canada, and I am a marketing and customer experience manager for Allegion Canada’s multifamily business. I support our sales strategies from a business development standpoint and try to enable our sales organization to be as successful as possible in the field.

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?

At Allegion, you’ll see women in roles across all departments and all areas of the business — from finance to IT, marketing and sales to HR, engineering to industrial design and from manufacturing to environmental, health and safety. We have strong female leaders across our global company, including on our executive leadership team: Tracy Kemp, chief customer and digital officer, oversees our global IT function and customer excellence; Shelley Meador, chief human resources officer, leads the strategy for all human resources, communications, brand and reputation management globally; and Lúcia Veiga Moretti is the president of our Europe, Middle East and Africa business. Through informal and formal groups — like the Allegion Network of Empowered Women — my colleagues (both women and men) strive to celebrate diversity in the workplace.

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, and what could remedy some of these impediments?

I can only speak from personal experience, but even in the last four years of being part of the security industry, there’s been a huge evolution from a very male-dominated industry to one that’s starting to be much more inclusive of different identities, and that progress is encouraging. I do think that the industry was very male dominated for quite some time, and the effects of that still permeate into interactions women can have within the industry. In order to remedy the effects of a historically male-dominated industry, however, we as an industry need to acknowledge that there are inequities and that we can and must do more to be more inclusive and encouraging of all identities to feel as though they are — but, more importantly, they feel like — valid members of the industry.

There has been a true focus on empowerment initiatives in the last few years, and gender bias is decreasing. I’m so excited to be involved in the SIA RISE Committee’s inclusion and diversity work and having a dedicated space to explore complicated topics like this. Working on establishing programs and content has been a welcome avenue for industry progress. Similarly, programs like SIA’s Women in Security Forum and ASIS’ Women in Security Council are dynamic and exciting initiatives for both men and women — focused on addressing issues of inequality while championing things like empowerment, networking and professional development. Many organizations within the industry have affinity groups focused on these topics as well, and that’s especially important for new talent starting in the company early in their careers.

What do you see as important trends in the industry?

As an industry, we’re evolving. In my corner and from my perspective, technology is trending towards services in the multifamily space — property managers and developers have tenants who are tech savvy and expect well-designed digital experiences aligned with safety and security. Tenants want a seamless access control experience, and mobile credentials and mobile enablement makes that possible.

It also opens up the door to other amenities, like pet services, package delivery and remote access for visitors. Access control has morphed from a business of keeping the wrong people out of spaces, to enabling the easiest experience to enter spaces for those who have a valid reason to do so. It’s an exciting time to see this in the multifamily market especially, because the tenant/human experience is at the center of the design focus for the products and systems the industry is building.

More specifically, what trends are you seeing in your company’s space of seamless access and security around the door and adjacent areas?

Our customers around the world are looking for new and practical solutions that can help promote healthy environments and provide peace of mind — so the idea of “seamless access” continues to be a vision Allegion can deliver on to provide new value in safety and security.  Touchless solutions — from automatic door openers and contactless readers to innovative door pulls — are at the forefront of helping prevent the spread of germs and viruses by reducing common physical touchpoints.

Keyless solutions with mobile credentials can even help reduce residential or multifamily touchpoints, while remote access control capabilities mean buildings can be managed from home, as needed. Surface technology like antimicrobial coatings are being emphasized again — and customers also want to know the best practices for cleaning and disinfecting door hardware.

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

It has been such a neat experience to watch the SIA Women in Security Forum grow. As an early-career female in the industry, I hope the forum continues to build a network of empowered individuals in the industry who are dedicated to encouraging growth, honesty and development for all identities. My favorite aspect of the Women in Security Forum is how important it is for the leadership of the group to have men involved in the programs and initiatives the group works on. I think that empowerment and diversity begin with inclusion, and being focused on creating an inclusive space to combat issues of sexism and gender bias in the industry makes the group so impactful.

I hope the Women in Security Forum continues to support the industry through scholarships, panels and content — helping to bring to light any issues of gender inequity in the industry, as well as form programs where inclusion is organically fostered. The program is an incredible platform, and I believe strongly in the leadership team working to create the community it fosters — I hope in the coming years, we’ll see the platform expand and the voices who participate amplified throughout the industry.

What is your best advice for women in the industry?

My best advice for women in the industry is to be a champion to yourself, and to others of all identities. The most powerful thing any trailblazer can do is help others elevate themselves — and as women, it’s so important to do that. I’ve been fortunate enough to find a community of amazing people in the industry who have helped me dig into my passions — and there are so many ways to do that with the security industry. Whether you love cybersecurity, professional development or building software systems, find your passion, look for opportunities to dig in and build yourself a network of people who will challenge, empower and teach you and learn from you. The best advice I’ve ever received is “Be so good that no one can take your accomplishments away from you,” and it’s true for everyone, not just women.

Who or what was the strongest influence in your career?

I have a tremendous amount of gratitude for the people in my life who have helped me transition and grow in my career. My mom and my sister, Caitlin, are two of the biggest influences in my life — they’re in my corner constantly, and they always challenge me to be better, work harder and celebrate my successes. Support from family members is something I hold very close to my heart.

I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a lot of genuine, kind and encouraging colleagues in the industry — Allegion has given me lifelong friends and mentors, and those relationships have helped me celebrate the wins of life and bounce back from the losses. Joining the SIA RISE Committee was a turning point in my understanding of my career, though — the group gave me a network of engaged early-career colleagues in the industry and a platform to help the industry progress further into the future, and the team is made of total rock stars. The support, friendship and encouragement the RISE Committee members have for one another is unlike anything I’ve experienced, and I’ve seen the impact we have made for the industry, and it’s so exciting.

How do you define success?

I genuinely believe that personal success is defined by believing wholeheartedly in the job you’re doing. Finding the passion in the day-to-day tasks and activities that play a role in the bigger picture is so important to me, and it contributes to everything I do — from collaborating with people to bouncing back from challenges quickly. I define my own success by evaluating whether I’ve made a positive difference where I’ve been able to, if I treated people with respect and kindness and if I went above and beyond the job I was asked to do, because not everyone has the abilities I have, and there’s no time to take those for granted.

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

Welcome! It’s so great to have you here. Ahead of you is a fulfilling career, a dynamic industry and a plethora of opportunities to get involved, learn and build your tribe. I can’t wait to get to know you!

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