BCD’s Maureen Carlo on the Importance of Empowerment
Maureen Carlo, also the Chair of the SIA Women in Security Forum, discusses her ascent from sales to the boardroom and how to succeed in the 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, networking and professional growth events and thought leadership opportunities.
For this edition of SECURE Perspectives, SIA spoke with Maureen Carlo, director of strategic alliances – North America at BCD Int’l and chair of the SIA Women in Security Forum steering committee, about her role within the company, industry trends and the expanding diversity of the security workforce.
Carlo has been selected as the 2019 recipient of the SIA Progress Award, which recognizes individuals who advance opportunities and pave the way to success for women in the security industry. SIA will present her with the award at SIA Honors Night on Wednesday, Nov. 20, in New York City.
SIA: How did you get into the security industry?
Maureen Carlo: My first role in technology sales was as a communications consultant selling emerging wireless communications and data systems to SLED and C-suite business leaders. I became fascinated with technology and introduced sophisticated solutions that the company had not previously offered. The company dabbled in analog security. After experiencing the fallout of a cheap camera and poorly designed system, I invested in my professional development and learned about IP video.
I aligned with industry experts and introduced leaders in our community to integrated security technologies, developing my skills and reputation for consultative service and proactive education. This is when I first sold BCD servers. I kept hearing about ISC West, so I took a vacation from work and booked a trip to Las Vegas to immerse myself in the physical security industry. I met Jeff Burgess and Tom Larson for the first time on this trip. Experiencing ISC West sold me on systems integration, introduced me to industry leaders and earned me a new job. I moved out of state and dove into the industry with a new network of peers to learn from and partner with. I eventually moved to the manufacturing side of the business.
How does your organization serve the industry?
With a focus on proactive response and personal service, BCDVideo is a trusted source for security integrators to find innovative, purpose-built IP video storage. Headquartered near Chicago, Ill., we are a multinational hardware manufacturer founded on the principle of customer first. Our systems define industry standards for configuration and are guaranteed for performance and reliability. Our entrepreneurial culture and technical expertise, combined with strong strategic relationships, allows us to drive innovation and support the ecosystem as a trusted partner. Our supply chain system adds to our competitive advantage.
What is your current role?
My role as director of strategic alliances – North America for BCD Int’l is based on cultivating trusted partnerships to grow brand awareness and sales. I am responsible for: corporate relationships with national and global systems integration partners; industry associations, SIA and PSA Security Network; and the security consultant communities of SecuritySpecifiers and International Association of Professional Security Consultants. I am proud to chair SIA’s Women in Security Forum. I am a super connector, and I love the work I do and the partners I get to work with.
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?
Women fill many different roles throughout BCD, including on our executive team. Our diversity is across all job functions, from sales and marketing to technicians and accounting. Our diversity is also inclusive to the interns who work within operations, human resources and marketing. BCDVideo is a supporting member and annual sponsor of the SIA Women in Security Forum.
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 am a fan of Adam Grant and his quote “The most meaningful way to succeed is to help others succeed.” I enjoy championing others and introducing fresh perspectives to the conversation. I recently received great news from a dynamic consultant who was named chair of an industry committee. I was so proud when she texted me the news — not because a woman was named chair, but because the right person was.
I will continue to champion women and men to get involved. If you can afford time to volunteer, you have a formidable opportunity to grow your network and be seen as the curious up and comer or subject matter expert that you are. Someone from the Women in Security Forum steering committee is speaking at at an industry event — we show up, cheer you on and tweet about it! We make connections, share leads, find opportunities to learn together, work together and, in many cases, become friends too — while making a difference in our industry. Volunteering is lucrative in many ways. Empowering women empowers our workforce and our communities.
What do you see as important trends in the industry?
Today’s security systems converge the intelligent Internet of Things and operational technologies. GPU technology has led to breakthroughs in processing power. So many devices are now sensors, allowing businesses to multipurpose technology. Secured communications, secured storage, secured entry and secured identity will be less of a trend and more of an operational requirement. Layered technology applications provide actionable intelligence and should have structure to secure the data. Privacy and data integrity play a big role in securing layered environments. Can operations afford down time? The discussion about high-availability solutions to ensure continual operations is necessary.
More specifically, what trends are you seeing in your company’s space of IP video storage solutions for security integrators?
It’s our 20th anniversary, and we are redefining ourselves. Over the past 20 years in the technology space — the last 11 dedicated to surveillance — we have expanded both our portfolio and our paths to market. Our strong BCDVideo brand has experienced great success, with over 100,000 systems recording video in 75 countries. BCD Int’l has been a legal entity due to our foreign markets. To better structure and manage our growth, we decided to umbrella the BCD Int’l name and formed three divisions: BCDVideo, BCDOEM and Video Storage Solutions (VSS).
BCDOEM is our private-label business — we contract manufacture for over 40 companies (camera manufacturers, video management system manufacturers and integrators). VSS exclusively services security distributors with pre-engineered value-added video appliances. Our emerging technologies promote both resiliency and simplicity for video surveillance applications and are filling market gaps and solving problems for integrators and security consultants.
We see brand protection as a key factor for the integrators and practitioners who think they can buy HP or Dell off the shelf and it will work the same. Those work fine; but our video appliances are optimized for performance. Big difference — we don’t build IT servers; we build systems for layered applications that have greater requirements over traditional video recording. Longer mandated retention times in regulated markets make an impact, too. Integrators need a trusted resource as the video recording system is the heart of the security ecosystem. We guarantee our bandwidth storage calculations to reduce integrator risk and liability, and pre-load servers to meet customer operating system, VMS and imaging requirements – passing along labor savings during project implementation.
What are the top challenges your company has faced in the last year?
Workforce development. With the current employment trends, it is challenging to find people with the technology-based experience/knowledge/skill sets for BCD. To stay in this competitive landscape, we focus on our culture and values and benefits to stay engaged with current colleagues while we target new additions.
What are the biggest opportunities your company and the industry are seeing?
We partner with the major players in the surveillance industry, as well as emerging solutions providers. We’ve become a trusted resource for initial testing environments — testing solutions from network to server to storage, providing holistic validated solutions, end to end. Having two full build centers in our HQ made a huge impact on our capabilities and efficiencies in 2019. We can build up to 800 video recording appliances simultaneously and have dedicated testing benches for certification processes, allowing us to work with multiple companies and benchmark their solutions independently.
They remote in from all over the world and we share in the testing data, which keeps us on the front line of what’s coming, shows us the stress these solutions put on traditional video recording systems and allows us to focus on efficiently using hardware and lead with the right technology on day one. We remove the guesswork from integrators by completely validating systems with defined metrics in respect to resiliency and recovery time. Our advanced systems architecture division and professional services team of engineers troubleshoot infrastructure and emulate customer issues.
Based out of our Fresno, Calif., lab, this team holds 12-18 years each of network engineering experience that allow BCDVideo to value-engineer solutions and offer multiple levels of networking pre-and post-sales support, in capability and vulnerability assessments, network design and network implementation. The network is often overlooked, though one of the most vital components of any video surveillance infrastructure. We have solved a need of our integrator partners and security consultants by developing a simplified network provisioning app for our purpose-built network infrastructure that delivers the high availability and performance necessary for a surveillance network, and ensures technicians (with limited prerequisite knowledge) correctly and securely configure and deploy networks from the start. This is an exciting addition to our growing portfolio of products and services.
What do you hope the Women in Security Forum can achieve for the security industry?
“Empowering Women. Influencing Change.” is our tagline. As I said while accepting the SIA Chairman’s Award on behalf of our steering committee at ISC West, “I feel as though we won the award a year too soon” – but SIA didn’t, and I was extremely proud that after one year we were turning our message about promoting diversity and inclusivity in to opportunity.
I’m noticing more women attending and having roles at conferences. The ladies are upping the game, and it shows when they contribute as panelists. Noticeable progress on that front at Securing New Ground this year included SIA Women in Security Forum members: Kasia Hanson provided great insight about artificial intelligence and emerging technologies to solve business problems, and Lynn de Séve shared an important message about long-awaited changes benefiting GSA schedules for electronic physical security. When other associations and industry publications approach us to collaborate, that’s further evidence that our movement is happening. Our purpose is not about having the busiest happy hour on the show floor at industry events — it’s about making a difference.
Women and men approach me regularly asking how to be involved. We want participation! We appreciate moxie! We have created Women in Security Forum subcommittees that are growing awareness and outreach, and we’re developing a program to introduce our industry to universities and engage with students before they graduate. I encourage Women in Security Forum members to be active and have a seat at the table by joining SIA’s committees and working groups and adding fresh voices and perspectives to our efforts. The industry needs the next generation to step up, and we are providing a platform to contribute. Looking for event speakers? We’re building a repository of speakers to offer options for industry/association speaking events. A challenge to the industry for better conferences in 2020: let’s eliminate “manels” and get more diversity on panels to contribute together!
What advice would you give women in the industry?
Two of my favorite words are grit and integrity. Invest in yourself and invest in others.
Who or what was the strongest influence in your career?
My first day in sales, I was handed the yellow pages and told to start prospecting. That did not make sense to me. Luckily, through local volunteer work, I befriended Dr. Nancy Church, distinguished service professor at SUNY Plattsburgh. She became my mentor/sponsor and supported me in my drive to be successful in a new, male-dominated, industry. She challenged and inspired me, introducing opportunities to share my voice, and to coach and mentor students.
It was no coincidence one summer day in 2018 that I was late to meet Nancy for lunch, because Jeff Burgess called to discuss our working together. It was an exciting moment to share with my mentor and friend, who continues to be an influence in my world today. I’ve been quite fortunate and proud to surround myself with a strong group of women and men in the security industry: leaders who educate, inspire and champion me along the way.
How do you define success?
I have two answers – the first is witnessing success. Last year at ISC East I participated on a leadership panel. One panelist was quite nervous about speaking in public. She went from sweating before the session began to proudly posing for photos with the biggest smile on her face afterward, having eased into the panel discussions and growing confidence throughout the session. Watching that transformation was professional success to me. Seeing all the men and women who showed up to that breakfast panel event during the first snowstorm of the season in New York City was also a great success in my mind — it showed how much our industry peers valued the content being discussed.
My second answer is about personal success. Someone recently congratulated me on getting laid off from a job last year! Keeping my head and spirits high during career transition was stressful — but a rich network of industry friends and peers made me feel successful and valuable at a vulnerable moment. I have had several pinch-me moments this past year as a result. #MyTribe of industry leaders highlights my personal and professional success.
What would you say to new upcoming women in the industry?
Get involved. Be authentic. Lead with integrity and never devalue yourself!
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