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 Julie Beach, vice president of Sonitrol – a unit of STANLEY Security with a network of 84 independent franchises and 43 corporate offices covering the United States and Canada. Sonitrol provides customers with a single source of integrated security solutions for intrusion, video, access and fire.
How did you get into the security industry?
Twenty years ago, I began working for Integral Technologies, a manufacturer of enterprise integrated digital video management and access control solutions, in the finance department. At the time, the business was a smaller organization, and the entire staff served multiple roles, which allowed me the opportunity to learn many functions within the organization, and I would often support the outside sales team. Within about six months, a position became available, and I moved into a sales role; I have been developing my security sales career since.
How does your organization serve the industry?
STANLEY Security is a division of Stanley Black & Decker, a 175-year-old organization widely known for our leading brands in tools and storage. STANLEY Security is the second-largest electronic security company based on total revenue and one of the largest system integrators in the United States. We design, install, monitor and service security systems for industrial, government, commercial, residential and national account customers. STANLEY Security is also the proud franchisor of Sonitrol Security, who has been the leader in verified electronic security solutions for 55 years.
What is your current role?
As vice president of Sonitrol, I lead sales and business development activities for 84 independent franchises and 43 corporate offices across North America. Fifty-five years ago, with the help of a police officer, Sonitrol was founded with the goal of reducing false alarms and increasing criminal apprehensions utilizing audio alarm verification techniques. Today, we continue to lead the industry in verification and security innovation and have built a successful network of independent franchises.
What types of job functions do women fill in your company? Is there diversity of roles in your company, or do women gravitate towards certain job functions?
Women fill many types of positions within our organization, from administration to sales to IT. STANLEY Security understands the importance of — and works hard to promote all types of — diversity throughout the entire organization, and more women are moving into senior leadership positions. While the progress is refreshing, there is still more work needed from the entire security industry to drive more gender diversity.
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?
I have always felt that the security industry is a great place for women and there are many opportunities. In sales and leadership, I think it can be intimidating to some women who see that these roles are primarily held by men. But for the women who are willing to step into these roles, there are great opportunities for growth. I think that many organizations understand that diversity is important, but they do not make the effort to seek or look within their current staff for high potential women. Men also play an important role in the success of women, and more should provide mentorship.
What do you see as important technology trends in the security industry?
Many consumers today are looking for their security providers to provide more than just an alarm system or video surveillance — they are looking for solutions to help them run their businesses, secure their networks and automate their homes. And they want to be able to control and monitor these systems from the comfort of their homes or while sitting on the beach on vacation. It is all about being able to create solutions that provide key data and integration with a simple, easy-to-use interface.
More specifically, what key trends do you see when it comes to the areas of the industry your company deals with, like verified audio and video intrusion, access control, fire detection and video surveillance?
Considering that more than 98% of the security-related alarms that occur are false and the growing trend of DIY security systems, the need for verification is going to continue to grow. Police departments are underfunded and understaffed and cannot possibly respond to the growing number of alarm calls, which has led to increased false alarm fines and many cities implementing verified alarm and priority police response ordinances.
While Sonitrol has provided verified alarm solutions for 55 years, the traditional alarm industry has been slow to adopt these types of solutions. I believe this is primarily due to many alarm companies reacting to pricing pressures. When you can explain the value of verification as a way of electronically witnessing a crime in progress and assisting police in apprehending criminals and protecting your property, price is no longer a factor.
What are the top challenges and opportunities your company has seen so far in 2019?
Like many other installation businesses during times of low unemployment, we have challenges finding and retaining skilled labor, which has led us to engage non-typical recruitment methods and create early career training and education programs to develop new talent.
I see many opportunities with artificial intelligence and other means of creating more efficient central station monitoring centers. With the use of these types of technologies, we can not only reduce the cost to monitor but also reduce the number of false alarms and precipitate response that occurs.
What do you hope the Women in Security Forum can achieve for the security industry?
I hope that the Women in Security Forum will help create more networking, education and mentorship opportunities for women in the security industry.
What advice would you give women who are in the industry?
Look for a champion or mentor — male or female — and ask for their guidance. Don’t be afraid to take risks and step outside of your comfort zone. Don’t feel like you must know the answer to every question or how every widget works. Build your network, and know where to go to get answers and support.
Who or what was the strongest influence in your career (e.g. a mentor, an event that inspired your career decision)? How do you define success?
An acquisition early in my career forced me to leave my comfort zone and seek other employment. While it felt intimidating at the time, it was the best thing that could have happened to me. A vendor, who was a partner of my previous firm, was growing his sales team and took a chance on me. I was not the most experienced or qualified, but he could see my drive and passion. He took the extra time to train and develop me, and I ultimately became one of his top sales producers.
I am very goals- and results-driven, but I do not believe those are the only metrics to success. I define success by living a purpose. My professional purpose is to help create a safer world not only for our customers, but also to the law enforcement officers that risk their lives every day responding to alarms triggered by our technology. Helping them return safely to their families each night brings me an enormous amount of purpose.
How do you achieve work/life balance?
I purposely make time to travel and enjoy other hobbies outside of the workplace. During the past several years, I have sometimes found it difficult to disconnect, and those are the moments at which I have felt the greatest amount of stress. By taking time for myself, I have found that I am more creative and productive at work.
What would you say to new women coming into the industry?
Push yourself outside of you comfort zones, create a network and don’t be afraid to ask for their help or advice. Also, as your career continues to develop, look for opportunities to help other women to do the same.
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