On the RISE: How Erin Mann Got Into Lockstep With Allegion on Her Security Path

On the RISE is a new column by SIA in partnership with SSI that profiles the next generation of security industry leaders.

On the RISE is a new quarterly 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.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Erin Mann, and I’ve been with Allegion in various roles since July 2016. I joined with the company after graduating from DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., with a degree in communications. I grew up in Cleveland and most recently moved to Toronto. I’m a happiness enthusiast, I love to travel and I absolutely love connecting with people and hearing their stories.

What drew you to a career in security?

My interest in the security industry really started after I was already working at Allegion. In my first role, I was in marketing with a focus on our mechanical product lines. Because of that job, I learned so much about where our products were in the world, how frequently I touch them and other security products every day and how important they are for maintaining the spaces I exist within every day. The exposure to the vast reach the industry has, and the role it plays in the daily life of every person, was a major contributor to the reasons I hope to be part of the security industry for my lifelong career.

What has your career path been?

Allegion is a great organization for career development, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have a number of roles and responsibilities within the organization since I started a little over three years ago. I began with Allegion as a channel marketing specialist, focused on a channel of distribution that dealt heavily with our mechanical product line. I was in that role for about a year and a half when I was promoted to being a channel marketing manager focused on our PACS [physical access control software].

I was in that role for about seven months, and I learned a tremendous amount about the shifting of the industry from mechanical products to electronic products and solutions. In May 2018, I changed roles again and shifted out of the marketing organization, beginning a new role in customer experience for our service providers business. In that role, I focused on how to make improvements internally at Allegion that would impact our ability to do business better, more efficiently and more transparently with software companies. Most recently, I’ve moved to Toronto and started a new role inside the Canadian business, focused on marketing and customer experience efforts for multifamily.

Who has influenced or mentored you — either within the security field or outside?

Genuinely, everyone I’ve met at Allegion has influenced and mentored me in one way, shape or form. The individuals who make up the security industry have such a breadth of knowledge and are always willing to teach – that has been a really wonderful experience; however, I’ve had two really transformative experiences as a mentee with a former colleague, Bill Young, and my past manager, Lee Odess.

In my first role at Allegion, I supported Bill’s sales efforts with marketing. During the first year at Allegion, during time out in the field, Bill took every opportunity to show me different applications of our hardware, introduced me to so many people in the industry and helped me navigate my first year within the industry. He invested in my personal and professional development and is a lifelong friend. Lee Odess is the kind of manager you read about and hope you have one day – he created a team culture centered around trust, mutual respect, vulnerability, empathy and communication. I was fortunate enough to have him as a mentor early in my career – Lee empowered me and supported me.

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

Once you get immersed in everything the industry has to offer, really try to dig into your interests. There are so many different committees, networking opportunities and development programs tailored to specific interests – anything from cybersecurity to retaining younger talent in the industry — and it’s a fantastic way to meet people, find your passion, learn new things and be a part of the industry in a bigger way. My other suggestion would be to ask people who have been in the industry for 10+ years why they’re still here. The stories are fascinating and inspiring.

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

I love how prevalent our products, solutions and services are — both at Allegion and within the industry. It’s easy to tell people outside the industry what I do and convey the value of it because I can share with them how many times they touch our product or experience convenience from one of our electronic solutions or discuss times they’ve gained peace of mind because they felt safe where they lived and worked.

How do you define success?

I think personal success is defined by believing in the job that you’re doing. Finding the passion in the day-to-day activities and tasks and reconciling how that feeds into the bigger picture is so important — it helps me bounce back from challenges more quickly, it contributes to the way I collaborate with people and it helps keep the opportunity to make a difference in front of me at all times.

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?

I’ve loved being a part of SIA RISE for the last year, and most recently, joining the committee has given me a different avenue to pursue my passion of career/professional development. RISE has a unique opportunity to create an ecosystem of young/early career talent within the industry and has a tailored approach to listening, teaching and growing the individuals who will be leading the industry down the road.

Giving young people a voice to contribute to the formation of the future is powerful, and RISE is continuously working to plan more events, connect individuals, relay opportunities and develop more programs to facilitate those conversations. Knowing that there’s an investment in my generation of the workforce by one of the largest governing associations in the industry is a massive value add to joining the security industry, and it is empowering to me and my peers.

Let’s take a closer look at Allegion. How do you honestly evaluate your organization’s efficiency?

I think there are two main ways any organization can evaluate efficiency: 1) listening to the internal teams who are executing the tactical work and 2) listening to the customer about their experiences working with an organization, from start to finish.

The first group, internal teams who are executing tactical work, have the most visibility to the organizational processes that are in place, the common challenges/barriers to success and where there are places to pivot to be more efficient, innovative and collaborative.

The second group’s experience is a direct reflection of an organization’s efficiency or lack thereof. By listening to the customer and putting their experience at the center of the conversation, we are able to correlate external issues to internal processes and roadblocks that can be changed to reflect a better outcome to customers.

What are a few key benchmarks companies should use to measure the customer experience?

I think one benchmark is definitely a Net Promoter Score (NPS). By asking the simple question “Would you recommend us to someone?” on a scale of 1 to 10, organizations can easily capture a basic feeling of confidence that comes from their customer base. NPS isn’t a whole picture, however, and I think it is important for organizations to take it a step further to understand why they would or would not be recommended. I also think that companies should pay attention to customer reviews — it’s free VOC. I think it’s transformational for organizations when they can respond to customer reviews in a timely manner and acknowledge that they’re paying attention to what their customers are saying.

And lastly, I think it can be a humbling exercise for organizations to empathize with their customers — by experiencing the processes an organization has in place for a customer to go through to place an order, commission a product, install a piece of hardware and so on, the organization can be closer to how well designed or poorly designed that customer experience is, which could inspire organizations to change.

What has Allegion had to do or learn as it moves more into the digital space and becomes a digital leader?

Allegion’s digital transformation has been multifaceted and has had momentum within each area of the business. I think with any transformation, there’s a learning curve and a lot of enthusiasm to embrace the digital ecosystems within which our products and services exist. We are a company built on the strength and reliability of our mechanical history and our brands, and that gives Allegion a unique opportunity to build a digital experience on top of such products to deliver an exceptional experience to our customers.

We’re actively learning the ways technology is changing, we actively work to understand the customer journey, we partner with other products and services that together deliver a more holistic digital ecosystem for the consumer, and we consistently work to develop products and services for today and far in the future.

How do you prioritize what projects get worked on and allocated resources?

Prioritization within Allegion is a continuous conversation. There is a lot of collaboration needed to get projects off the ground, managed, and completed and launched. In order to prioritize projects and allocate resources, we have transparent, targeted conversations about how each project is aligned with the larger Allegion strategy.

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