Convergint’s First-ever CIO Shares the Key to Making a Better Workforce
In this month’s SECURE Perspectives, Bhuvana Badrinathan discusses industry trends, Convergint’s new Inclusion & Diversity Council and 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 (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 Bhuvana Badrinathan, chief information officer (CIO) at Convergint. Badrinathan is a speaker at SIA’s upcoming Securing New Ground conference taking place Oct. 28, participating in a C-suite executive panel on the security technology horizon.
SIA: How did you get into the security industry?
Bhuvana Badrinathan: This is my first position in the security industry. When I was approached by an executive recruiter for my current position, I was intrigued both by the industry and by Convergint. The security industry is rapidly growing — whether it’s the advancement of technology such as Internet of Things (IoT) and edge devices or the ever-increasing need for better cybersecurity solutions to protect data and systems from hackers. Convergint’s fabulous culture, the focus on digital transformation and the opportunity to become its first CIO are ultimately what led me to this industry.
How does your organization serve the industry?
Convergint is a global, service-based systems integrator. We are unmatched in customer service and culture, underpinned by our focus on core values and beliefs. We partner with customers across the full system integration life-cycle, providing solutions to meet their most complex and mission-critical needs. We serve global, multinational accounts that operate critical facilities like data centers, hospitals and more, and we value service and expertise above all things.
What is your current position?
My current position is Chief Information Officer — the first ever for Convergint.
What types of job functions do women fill in your company?
Convergint does an excellent job seeking quality, diverse talent within all levels of the organization. This is just the beginning – in the years to come, Convergint will continue to put emphasis on diversity. A few years ago, the Convergint Women Connect group was formed with the goal to increase the number of women and women leaders at Convergint, lift the voices of underrepresented women and make Convergint an inclusive environment for all women. This year, Convergint also formed an Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) Council. The Convergint Women Connect group is working alongside the I&D Council to shape policy, create an inclusive environment and help drive significant change for the women of Convergint.
With more and more data that shows diversity makes a better workforce, what opportunities do you see for women in the security industry?
All industries need to continue becoming more inclusive and diverse, including the security industry. It is my opinion that there are enormous opportunities for anyone that is willing to work hard, always be curious and have a great attitude in any industry that they choose to work in. There is nothing in the security industry that says only men can do this job. The key to ensuring that more women gravitate to the security industry is to create more opportunities at all levels of the organization. I work with great women colleagues and our numbers within Convergint are growing daily.
What impediments do you see for achieving this? What could remedy some of these impediments?
I work for a company that puts a lot of focus on diversity. Part of our success is that we have focused on and had open communication around inclusion and diversity on a regular basis. This type of open dialogue and discussion needs to be a priority across all organizations from the board on down. Having an articulated and compelling commitment to increase diversity within the company creates awareness at all levels of the organization. A huge impediment that I see to achieving diversity in the workforce would be if organizations don’t have that as a major objective. The key to ensuring that this does not happen is to continue to raise awareness and foster discussion at all levels in the company. For Convergint, having a dedicated group working alongside our I&D Council with clearly outlined goals and objectives is what will ensure that our workforce continues to grow in diversity.
What do you see as important trends in the industry?
We are amid what many refer to as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” — the boundaries between the physical, digital and biological world are blurring. What this means is that intelligent devices are connected not just to network devices but also to the Cloud. Cameras produce more data than any other sensor; the usage of this visual data is exploding and intelligence is moving to edge devices like cameras. Traditional security, fire and life safety technologies are evolving towards a modern IoT architecture with the intelligent camera as a key enabler.
More specifically, what trends are you seeing in your company’s space as a global systems integrator?
Convergint is uniquely positioned due to our global capabilities while having a local touch, which enables us to assist our customers with last-mile IoT delivery. We are a leading provider of some of the most important IoT sensors (cameras), as well as the technologies and services required to take advantage of the visual data those sensors produce. Convergint has a significant opportunity to deliver value for our customers’ digital transformation initiatives.
What are the top challenges your company has faced in the last year?
Collaboration across our global, distributed organization continues to be a top challenge as we navigate year two of the pandemic. Like many organizations, the challenge to recruit great talent continues to be an ongoing priority. Finally, we are working to keep up with the pace of change as customers ask us to help solve new and interesting business and technology challenges.
What are the biggest opportunities your company – and the industry – are seeing?
The technology landscape is rapidly changing and evolving. The biggest opportunities that companies in the security industry have today are predominantly centered around how to gain value from IoT, artificial intelligence, Cloud, computer vision and big data. Companies that understand how to monetize data will be the frontrunners. Today, everything collects data — IoT devices, cameras, sensors — and turning that information into intelligence is a huge opportunity.
What do you hope the SIA Women in Security Forum can achieve for the security industry?
My hope is that the SIA Women in Security Forum continues to provide clarity on what the security industry is about and show women that they absolutely can play a major role in this industry. Creating awareness and understanding is key to ensuring that more women join and stay in the security industry. Women need to see other women in an industry or company; this helps them see themselves working in that organization and industry. I think it’s incredible that SIA’s Women in Security Forum promotes the advancement of a wide spectrum of people while recruiting and cultivating the leadership of women.
What is your best advice for women in the industry?
Be your authentic self. Everyone has strengths — believe and trust in them and lean on your colleagues in the areas where you are weak. And finally, never be afraid to do the right thing.
Who or what was the strongest influence in your career?
My parents have been the strongest influence in my life. They were first-generation immigrants from India, and from a very young age they brought us up with values that have guided us throughout our life. Our father taught us to always work hard and give our very best in everything that we did. He felt that it was important to create opportunities from adversities. We were told to treat others with kindness and respect, to always see the good in others and — above all else — to have integrity.
How do you define success?
Building strong teams that consist of individuals who are collaborative, have strong work ethics and great character, and are impactful both as individuals and as a team is key to achieving success. When you build these types of teams, they will achieve incredible results that help grow and drive the business. I believe people are what make a company great. A leader’s responsibility is to create teams that are filled with great people — this is my definition of success.
What would you say to new upcoming women in the industry?
I would tell them to take a chance on themselves; to not be afraid of making mistakes — it’s one of the best ways to learn; to speak up — voicing their opinions is the only way that their ideas will get heard; and finally, to question everything and always be curious.
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