Genetec’s Lora Wilson Proves How Diversity Improves the Workplace
Wilson also shares the three most important security trends she is seeing and more in this month’s SECURE Perspectives.
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 Lora Wilson, director of marketing for the Americas at Genetec.
How did you get into the security industry?
Lora Wilson: Getting into the security industry was not purposeful, but I always intended to work within an industry and for a company with a clear vision and purpose. After working in sales and customer success roles for several years, I was looking for a for a field marketing role, preferably for a global organization. I got a job with Axis Communications, where I spent 12 years in a variety of roles. During this time, I knew I was working in a special industry and community of people, with an important mission. I joined Genetec, another security industry leader, in 2021.
How does your organization serve the industry?
Genetec is a developer of open-platform software, hardware and Cloud-based services for the physical security and public safety industry. Our flagship product, Security Center, unifies IP-based video surveillance, access control and automatic license plate recognition into one platform. The fact that we take a broad view of the everyday nature of security is one of the fundamental aspects of what sets Genetec apart. But there is also a definite passion in our DNA for the craft of innovation, and an infinite creativity that makes us stand out.
The rapid pace of innovation and the passionate culture we have at Genetec underpins everything we do. Things that are happening now at Genetec are revolutionizing the world, in so many different ways — from how we understand and use sensor data and how we automate very complex workflows to how we protect very large and complex organizations.
What is your current role?
I am the director of marketing for the Americas, and our team is responsible for strategizing, building and driving brand and marketing programs for Genetec across the Americas region (United States, Canada, Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean). We are a small but mighty team of enthusiastic, strategic marketers who are focused on driving strong communication with our customers and partners. Since we are a field marketing team, we work very closely with our sales and channel counterparts to build powerful demand generation, channel engagement and end user awareness programs. We love what we do and love helping our customers solve their challenges.
What types of job functions do women fill in your company?
At Genetec, women hold positions at every level of the organization across every job function, from sales and marketing and channel enablement, to engineering, customer service and product management.
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?
While we are seeing an increasing number of women in security occupy roles that had traditionally been held by men, the ratio is not yet a balanced one. And this is even more true at the leadership level throughout the entire security industry ecosystem. Having said that, the fact that we have awareness on how diversity makes a better workforce is the first step. From working in a leadership role, building teams myself and being a member of different teams, I have seen this firsthand. When you have diversity of any kind, you have more perspective and opinions at the table, which help make better business decisions. So the opportunities for women are endless.
As a leader, or as someone who is tasked with building a team, you may have to make the extra effort to hire a diverse group of people. If we continue to bring women into the industry early in their careers, it will become easier to realize gender diversity in the teams we are building.
What do you see as important trends in the industry?
Cloud: During the pandemic, the security industry got a significant wakeup call to accelerate its digital transformation. In order to not just survive but thrive, our industry will have to let go of the false division between Cloud and on-prem and embrace hybrid deployment models. By doing away with this dichotomy, security leaders can make decisions about how they want to bring scale, redundancy and availability to their business in a way that suits their deployment and ownership needs.
Cybersecurity: From schools and hospitals to private businesses and governments, there’s been a rise in cyberattacks over the last year. Businesses, organizations and governments will need to take decisive steps to strengthen their cyber postures or risk undermining the safety of their intellectual property, sensitive data and personal information.
Privacy: Privacy is proving to be a catalyst for innovation across all sectors of the industry because it is a fundamental human need. Protecting privacy while meeting the regulatory requirements for personal and data protection has become a driving force in the pursuit of responsible and innovative design. Forward-thinking and ethical developers are adopting ‘Privacy by Design’ methodologies. And in our industry, building a software solution from the ground up with privacy in mind means that organizations don’t have to choose between protecting the privacy of individuals and their physical security. At Genetec, we believe privacy should always be the default option rather than the other way round, and those who take privacy seriously in our space will gain a distinct advantage and thrive.
What are the top challenges your company has faced in the last year?
Obviously, the pandemic has been a challenge for all companies in all industries. We all needed to reimagine what security solutions could do to help solve our end customers’ new challenges and the digital transformation we have been talking about so long basically happened overnight. Everything we took for granted was turned upside down from the way we worked, communicated and lived our lives. And the changes will continue for some time to come.
During the pandemic, at a time when every dollar needed to count, businesses became very creative about how they used and redeployed their security systems across their organizations. This enabled them to think more broadly about the role of physical security and what it could do beyond traditional applications to deliver more value.
Time and time again, we saw proof of this resilience and resourcefulness over the last year and a half with many of our customers and partners quickly adapting to the new needs and challenges posed by the situation and use their security technology as strategic tools in the fight against the pandemic. Our solutions have been used during the pandemic to monitor occupancy levels, control access to PPE, monitor patients at a distance and manage travel restrictions.
What are the biggest opportunities your company – and the industry – are seeing?
Now that the pandemic is starting to appear in the rear-view mirror, security technology is no longer seen as simply devices that are solely used to keep people and property safe, but has become a strategic tool to help improve business operations.
We still see end customers leveraging outdated technology that is not offering the features or functionality (such as cybersecurity) they need. We are here to help them navigate through this challenge.
And we know that each customer has a very specific requirement based on their business need, their industry, etc. The use cases of our solutions continue to grow as customer needs are evolving.
What do you hope the SIA Women in Security Forum can achieve for the security industry?
I have always been impressed with the mission of the Women in Security Forum. The fact that there is a group of women committed to the industry and helping one another is fantastic, and the group has achieved so much already by developing awareness. I hope that our male colleagues continue to join and stay involved as well, because realizing progress in gender diversity is a team effort.
What is your best advice for women in the industry?
The security industry is truly a great place to be. It has evolved so much during the 13 years I’ve been a part of it, and the innovation is not stopping. There are so many career directions you can take in this industry too, so focus on what areas interest you the most and find ways to dig in. We have a true community in place, and there are so many people who are willing to help and offer advice along the way.
In terms of mentorship, you don’t need just one person. I have always had many mentors who helped me learn and grow in different ways. Mentorship is a two-way street — try to think of ways you can help your mentors and others as they help you and that relationship becomes even more impactful professionally.
Who or what was the strongest influence in your career?
I worked within a leadership team for many years, and that team was ultimately the strongest influence in my career. I was in a team with a group of experienced business professionals who all helped me in different ways. Some gave me chances and pushed me to do things out of my comfort zone, some helped me learn deeply about areas of business that were not within my direct skill set and they all provided advice and friendship (and quite a bit of laughter) along the way.
How do you define success?
To me, professional success is about happily working within a company and with leaders who enable you to succeed. When you surround yourself with a great team of people who are also committed to the business’ success, you just naturally feel successful yourself. When you are doing things that are interesting, you are continuing to learn and you can definitively say you are impacting the business, team or people you serve in a positive way, you are successful.
And it might sound cliché, but when it’s Sunday night and I’m actually looking forward to the work week ahead, that feels like success to me.
What would you say to new upcoming women in the industry?
Get in there and try new things. Ask for chances, take on new projects and surprise yourself with how well you can do. Be confident.
One of the people I consider to be a mentor said to me once that you should work hard and contribute so when the chance for the next opportunity comes, you will have made yourself ready for it.
Bottom line, if you focus on developing skills and contributing to your business, your career will grow in this amazing industry.
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