Maria Cambria From FLIR Explains Importance of Support Groups in the Industry

Maria Cambria says establishing and participating in support groups is a great way for security professionals to engage and cultivate the leadership of women 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 Maria Cambria, vice president of demand generation for security at FLIR Systems.

SIA: How did you get into the security industry?

Maria Cambria: I studied computer programming when I was in college. After I graduated, I started working for a startup called NiceEye that provided video as a service, which was how I got into the video industry. I immediately saw that there was a lot of potential for growth in the world of IT — especially when, a few years into my career, IT and the security industry started to overlap. Since then, I’ve watched the two industries grow together and give birth to new solutions as well as technologies, which has been exciting.

How does your organization serve the industry?

FLIR Systems is the world-leading maker of sensor systems that enhance perception and heighten awareness. Our thermal technology has been the industry standard for 24/7 perimeter monitoring for decades — but more than that, we offer a versatile portfolio of field-tested video solutions to address security needs in the critical infrastructure and safe city sectors. Our products include thermal cameras, visible light cameras, smart mobile sensors, radars, unmanned aerial vehicles, video management systems and physical security information management solutions. Our wide array of reliable, industry-leading technologies allows us to deliver total solutions to integrators and end users. Additionally, our FLIR security cameras and management software solutions integrate with third-party systems, which allows us to be a good partner to customers who already have other vendors in place.

What is your current role?

I oversee business development, marketing, key account management and educational services. In other words, I drive growth for my organization by creating awareness and interest in FLIR products and services. I oversee the marketing team and collaborate with the sales team, with the goal in mind to generate demand and nurture prospect and customer relationships for the long term.

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 FLIR, women hold a variety of job positions, from entry level to C-suite. There are women support initiatives that promote diversity and female leadership within the company. The FLIR office in Nashua, N.H. has a women’s support group called Lean-In that meets consistently. In 2018, the FLIR Richmond, Va. office spearheaded a three-day women’s leadership seminar designed to educate, equip and empower women within the company. FLIR CEO James Cannon attended and spoke at the event in full support of creating more resources to drive leadership development for women at FLIR.

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?

On an industry-wide level, establishing and participating in support groups is a great start. One example of this is the SIA Women in Security Forum, which seeks to engage all security professionals in order to cultivate the leadership of women to better diversify the industry. Women supporting women is a powerful instrument of change.

Embracing new opportunities, rather than shying away from them, is important too. The key is to step outside of your comfort zone — sometimes, that’s all it takes to open the door for yourself.

What do you see as important trends in the industry?

Across the industry, projects are becoming more solutions-based versus solving one problem at a time. Demand for total solutions is increasing as they offer a more complete picture of a scenario, which results in better decision making, crime prevention and cost savings for users. Consequently, the industry is moving toward integrating individual, disparate systems into unified solutions. As these solution integrations become more complex, companies will focus more on the overall customer experience from an operational and ease-of-use perspective.

More specifically, what trends are you seeing in your company’s space of intelligent sensing solutions for defense, industrial and commercial applications?

Across the industry, we’re seeing a technology shift from deploying reactive solutions focused on evidence capture to intelligent, connected systems to proactively identify and respond to threats to make smarter decisions.

Throughout the industry, there is continued interest in drone solutions equipped with thermal and optical payloads as they can act as mobile security cameras to provide extended surveillance in remote areas. There is also interest in counter-drone technology to detect, track and mitigate aerial threats to critical infrastructure sites.

In the industrial and critical infrastructure sectors, customers are installing our premium thermal cameras integrated with radar for long-range detection of intruders or unauthorized vehicles before they reach the perimeter of a power plant.

Customers in the commercial and safe city sectors are using our remote video monitoring, high-definition cameras and smart mobile sensors to enhance situational awareness, asset protection and real-time response.

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

With increasing demand for intelligent connected systems with greater interoperability, security system design has grown more complex. FLIR is looking to integrate our solutions with all of our customers and grow into more turnkey solutions. To support this goal, FLIR offers tools and education resources that allow customers to be self-sufficient.

What are the biggest opportunities your company and the industry are seeing?

As risk to public safety has grown, so has the need for more dependable and proactive solutions to safeguard critical infrastructure sites and safe cities. There is prime opportunity for increased deployment of our outdoor thermal perimeter protection cameras, which offer superior range, detection and image detail. We also expect to see continued interest in our smart city platform as our technologies enable metropolises to go from secured cities to smart cities with intelligent connected systems that drive multi-agency collaboration.

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

It is an honor to participate in the SIA Women in Security Forum. I believe spaces like these have the ability to make real, needed changes within the industry — because empowering people always creates positive change. Emphasizing the good that comes from hearing the voices of women is a start. But the industry cannot successfully integrate women into the workforce until it dedicates time and energy to listening. This is what groups like the Women in Security Forum are doing.

What advice would you give women in the industry?

My advice is: “Go for it.” Don’t let any measure of fear prevent you from putting yourself out there and trying new things. If you know you can do something, do it — and don’t be ashamed of leaning on people along the way. Find a network of people you know you can trust, lean on them as they lean on you and remember that none of this can begin until you step outside your comfort zone.

Who or what was the strongest influence in your career?

There has never been just one person who helped move my career forward; it has always been a network of trusted friends, both male and female. We go out of our way to remind each other what we’re capable of — that has been especially powerful for me. What matters more than anything is that I’ve supported people as they’ve striven forward, and I’ve been supported as I’ve strived to do the same.

How do you define success?

Success shouldn’t solely be based on your job, position or income. Success is also about what you do outside of work, such as making time for family and giving back to the community. I find it most helpful to ask: Did you do everything you could? Did you take risks? Did you learn from your mistakes? Were you brave? Or did you let fear rule your decision making?

The answers to these questions, I feel, better indicate a person’s success in life than anything else.

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

I would say, before doing anything else, believe that you have something to contribute. Always find ways to learn and grow — but have confidence in yourself, in your abilities and in your potential. If you believe in yourself, your team will believe in you, and so will those above you. You can only go somewhere if you believe that you can. Lastly, remember to make time for yourself.

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