How Northland Controls’ Paula Balmori Designed Her Security Career

Balmori discusses her career path, life at Northland Controls, industry trends 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 (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 Paula Balmori of Northland Controls. Earlier this year, Balmori was named to the inaugural SIA WISF Power 100, recognizing 100 women in the security industry who are role models for actively advancing diversity, inclusion, innovation and leadership in the community, and she also spoke earlier this month at SIA’s 2022 AcceleRISE conference for young security industry professionals.

SIA: How did you get into the security industry?

Paula Balmori: Seven years ago, while completing my bachelor’s degree in international architecture, I spent two years in San Diego, Calif., where I became good friends with some Navy SEALs. They taught me about their living situation overseas and the precarious circumstances in which they lived in some of the most hostile environments in the world. This led me to realize the clear necessity to improve the security design architecture in these remote areas of the world, and that is where my passion and journey for security design started.

How does your organization serve the industry?

Northland Controls is more than a security integrator. We’re a global team of physical security experts and consultants who can manage, install and service security programs for the world’s largest companies. We look at security from a very holistic approach.

Within our consulting department, we love helping our clients with their most difficult security challenges. We emphasize the importance of thinking about security in the early stages of a project because it helps reduce risks, increases the efficiency of use in spaces, improves threat detection, etc.

What is your current position?

I’m a security design consultant and onboarding specialist.

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?

That is a great question. At Northland, I feel like there is equal opportunity for everyone, and we really push diversity forward in every sense.

With more and more data that shows diversity makes a better workforce, what opportunities do you see for women in the security industry?

Innovation director, growth strategist, Web3 security director, security innovation strategist, holistic security engineer, etc. I feel like most women tend to be great at innovation and creating growth strategies. I believe using our power to help companies grow while thinking of the security repercussions is a great way to lead innovation.

What impediments do you see for achieving this? What could remedy some of these impediments?

Without a doubt, unconscious biases. We all have them, but working towards demystifying them is a key component for promoting equal opportunities.

Having a certain required percentage of females in leadership roles could be a potential solution.

What do you see as important trends in the industry?

Collaborative ecosystems — I love, love, love this trend. If you listen to our show 4MAT, I talk about it in some of the interviews.

It is essential for security companies to create a sense of community around them — build true fluid communication amongst clients, users and providers. This will allow a cooperative approach to finding solutions and building resiliency.

Another big one is definitely Web3 and the impact that it is going to have on things like identification, consumer engagement and security protocols.

More specifically, what trends are you seeing in your company’s space as a global security systems integrator?

Artificial intelligence and automatization — this is helping us improve efficiency around our processes.

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

Besides a global pandemic, I will say growth. We have grown tremendously in the last year, and besides being a very exciting time for our company, it has meant a lot of challenges.

We have learned to improve our processes, create new ones, manage large teams, coordinate bigger projects, etc.

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

As mentioned earlier, the collaborative approach to security will allow more opportunities and more innovative strategies in our industry.

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

More opportunities and recognition for women in the industry.

What is your best advice for women in the industry?

Be curious and “believe it to achieve it.” For a young female in the security industry, it can get lonely sometimes, and I find myself battling impostor syndrome every now and then. Your curiosity and self-worth are some of your best weapons to combat that.

Who or what was the strongest influence in your career?

My parents. They are passionate doctors and entrepreneurs. They hustle and enjoy what they do like nobody I have ever met before.

How do you define success?

Doing what brings you joy, energy and happiness.

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

Be humbly bold. Do the work, show up, be curious and network.

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