Success in the Security Industry

By John Honovich, Published Apr 12, 2012, 08:00pm EDT

Unsuccessful people often wonder why they are so, developing silly theories about what is holding them back. The Women's Security Council is an organizition essentially dedicated to that cause. In their awkwardly named Las Vegas seminar imploring woman to, "Sell Yourself - But Don't Sell Yourself Short", they offer a slew of bad advice. Success in the security industry, and in technology businesses, in general, has nothing to do with their feel good, self help techniques.

The Council's Advice

Advice offered in the seminar [link no longer available] included:

  • Networking: "I was amazed at by starting to network and getting involved in different organizations, and really starting to learn my craft, how much easier it was to build my brand awareness"
  • Getting Mentored: "It’s about having someone in the senior level that is looking out for you"
  • Being Assertive: "We should be more proactive in approaching our management so that they’re clear on your objectives. Then, they’ll help pave the way instead of being reactive around pay review time"

Winning Business

What really counts is winning business. If you are a person who closes big deals or builds great products, you will become successful. You do not need to worry about 'building your brand awareness' if you are the person who closes huge deals. You do not need someone at the 'senior level look out for you' if you have driven the key product or solution driving your company forward. 'Management' will take care of you or you will leave and make it happen for their competitors or on your own.

It's a very simple fact - be essential to your organization, make things happen and you will be successful.

The Real Problem

The most critical problem for women in security is one that is hard for them to admit - they overwhelmingly work in uncritical parts of security companies.

Let's break down woman employement in security. It's common knowledge that women make up a very tiny share of sales and engineering, as our conceptual table shows below:

However, woman do dominate one segment of security companies - PR / marketing:

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Unfortunately, that is a low power area.

Power in Security Companies

Here's how power typically falls in security companies - from most to least:

  1. Sales People
  2. Engineers
  3. PR / Marketing
  4. Secretary / Support

This is clearly driven by how regulary employees in each group make major contributions to winning business. People in PR and marketing simply have far fewer opportunities to drive business as compared to their peers in sales and engineering.

Our Advice

If you are a young person in the security industry who wants to be successful, it is real simple: Work in critical areas of your company and make big things happen.

Guy or girl, black or white - If you want to really be successful in a company, avoid low power departments like PR and marketing. Make your mark in sales or engineering and you will be rewarded.

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