On the RISE: Nisha Advani Brings Tech-Focused Mentality to Security Industry

On the RISE is a column by SIA in partnership with SSI that profiles the next generation of security industry leaders. This month spotlights dormakaba’s Nisha Advani.

On the RISE is a bi-monthly column by the Security Industry Association (SIA) in partnership with Security Sales & Integration profiling the next generation of security industry leaders. This column is part of SIA’s RISE initiative, a community that fosters the careers of young professionals in the security through networking and career growth events, education and professional development offerings and scholarship opportunities.

For this installment of On the RISE, SIA spoke with Nisha Advani, assistant vice president of strategy and business development and Women’s Network chair at dormakaba.

SIA: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Nisha Advani: Adventurous and curious by nature, I have journeyed various paths before my current position as AVP of strategy and business development in the marketing department at dormakaba Americas. As a software engineer, I’ve written code and designed customer-focused technology solutions. As a marketer, I’ve created collateral and demoed product at tradeshows and client sites. As a GRE and SAT trainer, I’ve helped students ace their tests. At every stage, I’ve harnessed being people-centric and values-driven, and I’ve strived to create impact.

I challenged myself yet again when I left everything familiar in India to move to the United States. After getting my MBA at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, I joined dormakaba. Always a learner, I continue to grow professionally and personally with new experiences and challenges. Quite literally adventurous, I enjoy adrenaline-packed sports such as skydiving and riding the world’s best roller coasters!

What first got you interested in security and safety as a career choice?

I stumbled upon the opportunity to join dormakaba and decided to take the plunge into an industry I was unfamiliar with but have grown to admire. People experience our products in places that matter — hospitals, homes, schools, offices, etc. Being entrusted to keep people safe and secure, while enabling seamless movement, is both humbling and empowering. Bringing my background in hi-tech to the security and access control industry, I’m optimistic about the immense opportunity for our industry to deliver futuristic end-user experiences while continuing to be trusted partners to keep people safe.

What has your career path been?

I started my career as a software engineer in India and was fascinated by the power of technology to solve business problems. I enjoyed working with customers, listening to their pain points and designing solutions for them. I transitioned to a more customer-facing role, interacting with prospects and building a customer base for my company’s new product. I also played a key role in marketing as the conduit between product and market. I then moved to the U.S. and got my MBA (major in marketing). I continued to gain experience in the tech sector, working on projects with Intel and Google during my MBA. I was interested in a career in marketing and came across the strategic marketing role at dormakaba that leveraged my prior experience and challenged me out of my comfort zone.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I’m a passionate proponent of women in business. Considering dormakaba’s diversity and sustainability goals, I combined my love for coaching and bringing out the best in people to help establish the Women’s Network at dormakaba Americas. It is my privilege to serve as the Chair of the Women’s Network in its inaugural year, leading an incredible group of motivated and skilled women who embody the spirit of giving back. Though nascent, we’ve gained early momentum in our initiatives to create a space “where women bring their authentic self and achieve their full potential.”

What are some challenges and advantages of being a young professional in security?

Having spent most of my career in tech, I have admired the trendsetting nature of the industry and the pace of innovation. As a young professional and fresh entrant into the security industry, I sometimes grapple with the adoption pace of technology in our industry; however, when it comes to personal safety and security, I have come to understand that fair patience is warranted and that a technology needs to be thoroughly vetted before it is trusted. A clear advantage is the balancing force a young security professional brings — the ability to challenge the status quo and push the boundaries and pace of innovation.

What advice do you have for young professionals just starting out in the industry?

Be curious. Ask a lot of questions, from a lot of different people. You never know what you’ll uncover. I don’t think anyone knows it all — even those who have spent their entire career here. At the same time, actively collaborate. There’s so much untapped value in the partnership of fresh, young ideas and wisdom acquired through decades of experience.

What do you enjoy most about being at your company — and in the security industry?

The opportunity to “Build-Your-Own-Career-Path!” At dormakaba, I’ve found that I can take on projects that may not be strictly within my role but allow me to explore my professional interests and challenge myself. Failure is not shamed, a sincere effort is rewarded and the resulting learnings are celebrated. More broadly within the security industry, I’ve observed a similar pattern. There are no linear career paths, and one is free to carve their niche based on their skills, strengths and interests. Progress matters, and people are valued.

How do you define success?

Continuous improvement is success — this means being able to put one foot in front of the other, consistently, and, despite resistance, moving forward. To me, this definition is universally applicable across all aspects of my personal and professional life.

How do you think the SIA RISE community can help foster the careers of young people in the industry? What does the program offer that is most important to you/your company?

The SIA RISE community is a fantastic one-stop shop to get young professionals and new entrants integrated into the security industry. Right from mentorship and scholarship resources to events and networking opportunities, SIA RISE offers a support system, a true “community,” for the young security professional. My personal highlight has been the AcceleRISE experience and meeting like-minded professionals from various companies. I look forward to further nourishing my network through upcoming SIA RISE events!

What are some key components of your role with dormakaba?

My role in strategic marketing involves understanding market and economic trends, assessing new business opportunities and delivering key strategic communication across the organization. dormakaba Americas is pursuing ambitious growth targets and my position offers optimal balance between an outward market view and an inward business perspective to influence these goals. Given the transformation our company is undergoing, a key element of my role is clear and consistent communication of business objectives across various levels of the organization. I serve as a partner in the business planning process and in bringing market and competitive data to various stakeholders including business leaders, sales teams, marketing and finance.

How have you leveraged your experience working as a software engineer in your work in the security industry?

As a former software engineer, I bring an analytical and logical approach to problem solving. I deconstruct a complex business situation into its basic components and build a solution from the ground up. Working with customers has heightened my empathy and listening skills and sharpened my creativity. The combined left-brain and right-brain forces enable me to strike a sweet spot in my current role in the security industry!

What are some of the most valuable things you learned or took away from your MBA studies?

I earned my MBA from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, a school that fosters a highly collaborative culture. Bringing this spirit of collaboration in my current day-to-day, “I not only use all the brains I have, but all I can borrow” (Woodrow Wilson). I have found profound value in the power of the collective over the singular and believe that through collaboration, we grow our ability to become leaders who can make a difference.

What are some ways in which you think the security industry could foster more diversity, equity and inclusion?

Personally, I believe true equality is achieved by a society when we do not need to talk about it. However, until that is achieved, we do need to actively and respectfully talk about it. Building on that idea, I believe education plays a key role in fostering more diversity, equity and inclusion — this could be as straightforward as the tangible business benefits of a diverse workforce or training managers on building an inclusive team culture or more nuanced topics such as intersectionality and unconscious biases. Additionally, identifying advocates and champions to build effective allyship is key. True equality cannot be achieved by one group alone — it requires collective progress and partnership. The right education and collective action, I believe, can be strong catalysts in driving the change we desire.

How is the shifting technological landscape presenting both challenges and opportunities for the security industry?

It is no surprise to anyone living in the knowledge age that every technology today harnesses data. In the right hands, data has the power to offer sci-fi-like experiences, yet the infrastructure to govern the proper use and dissemination of data is still under construction. Data governance and protection are challenges not unique to our industry, but their impact strikes at our very core values — security and trust. In my opinion, our pace of adoption of advanced technology is limited by the aspects of data security and privacy.

What has been the most rewarding accomplishment or experience in your career in the security industry?

Establishing and being trusted to lead the Women’s Network in its inaugural year at dormakaba has been a rewarding experience. Observing a gap, finding an opportunity for improvement, building something from scratch, and bringing together a group to converge on a clear, collective vision has turned out to be so fulfilling. Moreover, being able to see the potential impact on my colleagues and being part of something bigger than myself keeps me motivated.

What are your predictions for where the security industry may be headed in the next 5-10 years?

I see the boundaries of the physical and digital realms dissolving. With tech companies already entrenched in the smart home market, commercial access control is in the arena too. This is going to change traditional access control as we know it, making digital experiences and interactions ubiquitous in this space.

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