Teachout Security Solutions


The Pursuit of a Balanced Educational Approach

YARMOUTH, ME — It’s becoming increasingly important for security professionals to have a balance of formal education and industry-specific certifications in order to be competitive for security positions.

Philip Deming, principal of Philip S. Deming and Associates, a consulting firm specializing in human resource and security risk management, said that he’s seen a major shift in what corporations are looking for when they recruit corporate security professionals. “Today, security professionals must be much more business focused than 10-15 years ago. Corporations are hiring someone to be a professional business manager,” he said.

Many companies that once looked for individuals with law enforcement or military backgrounds are now requiring higher degrees and industry certifications. Deming said candidates must have long- and short-range approaches to how they differentiate themselves to employers. For example, for an individual with 20 years of military service, who expects to be entering the job market in 12 months, Deming advises pursuing an industry-specific certification. In the long range, obtaining a higher degree, such as a MBA or law degree, can be an important differentiator. Deming emphasized the growing need for security professionals to have an educational background in financial operations and an understanding of information technology and security practices.

Deming has been an instructor for the ASIS International’s Certified Protection Professional program since 1999 and has seen a significant amount of change in regards to who is pursuing certification. “Back in 1999, it was predominantly white males over 40 coming from government service. Now I’m seeing in CPP classes more gender change, more age change and a growing number of international folks taking the exam,” he said.

Richard Lisko, vice president, general manager South Texas for Allied Barton said he has also seen the growth of employers seeking individuals with higher educational degrees and preferences for candidates with industry certifications. He agreed it is particularly important for individuals coming out of the military or law enforcement to pursue industry-specific degrees or certifications to help transition to a business environment. “You have to know the business side of it and how to work in a large corporation and how to handle and address goals and strategy in a corporate world,” said Lisko, who will be the 2012 president of the certification board for ASIS International.

Learning how to build a business case in order to get the funds necessary to build a security program is a huge part of the role of a security director. “You need to know how to interact with finance people and others in the organization,” he said. It’s also important to understand legal implications involving policy development.

The increase of certifications and trainings available online gives working security professionals the ability to earn credentials from home and reduces the cost and time required, but self-study has downfalls as well. “I think what you miss when you do that is not getting together face-to-face for trainings, and building a network is just as important,” Lisko said. It’s important for security practitioners to know each other and have the opportunity to talk about their experiences and challenges, he said. During his tenure as a security director for several banks, Lisko said it was critical for him to know other security professionals in the industry to benchmark the performance of his security program against similar institutions.

The benefit of pursuing certifications isn’t just about the information learned. Lisko said that going through training helps security practitioners build their network with other security professionals. “Trainings give you an opportunity to get to know people and build your network,” he said.

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