Amongst the many difficult adjustments experienced by security professionals during this country’s most recent economic downturn, few if any have proven more challenging than the loss of job security or worse yet, actual unemployment. For those who survived this crucible of uncertainty, the pathways to sustained employment were often facilitated by the degree to which one’s professional expertise was, or was not, in evidence.
While professional expertise does not necessarily guarantee job security, it can mitigate many risks associated with being chosen for a redundancy action or experiencing protracted unemployment if a displacement from a reduction in force is realized. For security professionals seeking to better prepare for surviving turbulent employment environments, evidencing professional acumen and expertise is paramount.
Developing professional acumen and expertise necessitates more than the acquisition of specialized knowledge; it requires a genuine mastery of the subject matter, engagement in the discipline, and recognition as a qualified authority by professional organizations, groups, and individuals. Since the recognition of expertise is a matter frequently evaluated by America’s judiciary, security practitioners seeking to enhance their professional acumen should consider modeling their credentials against that which is often required during a court’s qualification of an expert witness.
1. Professional Accomplishments: While the resumes of most security professionals are typically replete in their reference to knowledge, skills and abilities, all too often these documents fail to articulate professional achievements that were accomplished in the course of employment. Since documentation of professional accomplishments is a common means of assessing an employee’s actual or potential value in an organization, security professional must be diligent in their efforts to record these key events. Examples of professional accomplishments worth noting would include, the implementation of training programs that result in superior guard force performance, the identification of innovative solutions for promoting an enhanced environment of workplace safety and security, or the renegotiation of master service agreements with key vendors resulting in cost containment or reductions.
2. Professional Certifications: Typically awarded by recognized professional organizations, professional certifications provide legitimate documentation of competence in specialized matters or technical skills. While professional certifications frequently provide collegial recognition and affirmation of expertise within a specific career field or peer group, a greater benefit is realized when a certification’s associated post-nominal letters are viewed and appreciated by senior management, human resources, or professional recruiters. Professional certifications of interest to security practitioners may include, in part: Certified Protection Professional (CPP), Physical Security Professional (PSP), Professional Certified Investigator (PCI), Certified Protection Officer (CPO), Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Lodging Security Director (CLSD), Certified Healthcare Security (CHS), Certified Emergency Manager (CEM), or Member Security Institute, (MSyl).
3. Professional Demeanor: It’s a fact; a professional demeanor is one of the most important yet undervalued elements of professional expertise. While academic and experiential qualifications remain essential, a professional demeanor is pivotal to the success or failure of even the most aspired career. Security professionals enjoying business savior-faire, polished communication skills, emotional maturity, a propriety of etiquette, a charismatic disposition, respectful attitude, and peerless integrity are often held in higher esteem than those who are devoid in these matters. For those who seek opportunities to enhance these qualities, executive emulation, professional mentoring, Internet research, and an array of books will yield a treasure trove of information to help rectify deficiencies while maximizing existing attributes.
4. Professional Development: Regardless of the profession, continuous professional development is essential to remaining current in any career field. For the very same reasons that outdated technology has diminished value, failure to remain professionally abreast can seriously marginalize a security leaders worth to any organization. As a performance initiative, professional development can be realized by attending professional conferences, seminars, or trade shows, participating in webinars, assuming new assignments, enrolling in civic leadership programs, or engaging in relevant training. It is important to remember, however, that documentation of key professional development experiences should be retained for potential inclusion in resumes, annual performance appraisals, or as verification of required continuing education for professional certifications.
5. Professional Education: If professional expertise is built upon a foundation of professional credentials, then graduate education stands preeminent as the cornerstone of qualifications. As a requisite credential for career advancement, a professional education typically accompanies an expectation of enhanced knowledge, skills, and abilities. While a graduate degree cannot guarantee career success, it will frequently enable enhanced employment opportunities, promotional consideration, and even a basis for retention when organizational realignments are required. Security professionals looking to further their professional educations may find value in accelerated executive programs, on-line or distance learning degrees, post graduate certificates or certificates of advanced graduate study. Since many employers will not recognize professional educations from institutions that are not regionally accredited or similarly authorized in foreign countries, security professionals are advised to carefully verify the legitimacy and reputation of any program, college or university prior to matriculation.
6. Professional Memberships: Active memberships in reputable professional organizations, associations, institutes, and societies are essential to security professionals who wish to demonstrate their professional engagement within the industry. As an element of professional expertise, professional memberships speak to a security professional’s gravitas, their affiliation with professional peers, and adherence to ethical standards promulgated by those organizations. Security professionals looking to establish professional memberships should first consider ASIS International, or similar organizations that establish discerning membership criteria, local chapter affiliations, professional development opportunities, and research initiatives that contribute to a common body of knowledge. Several professional organizations featuring these attributes include, The International Security Management Association (ISMA), The International Association of Private Security Consultants (IAPSC), The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and The American Management Association (AMA).
7. Professional Networks: Since it is commonly held in some circles that a professional is only as good as his network, the need for security professionals to aggressively position themselves with colleagues, peers, and trusted associates becomes apparent. Although professional networks have been traditionally developed through organizational affiliations, personal introductions, and referrals, the recent emergence of social media products like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter have rocketed professional networking into a whole new dimension. In the words of industry colleague Karen Armold, “If you aren’t professionally networked, you aren’t engaged and if you’re not engaged, you’re likely to be disengaged!”
8. Professional Presentations: While public speaking can be an anxiety provoking experience for even the most seasoned of practitioners, the delivery of professional presentations is a traditional and recognized indication of professional expertise. Frequently subject to the scrutiny of both formal and informal peer review, professional presentations draw upon the presenter’s intellect, professional experiences, and oratorical abilities as a lecturer. Characterized by specialized content, an educational focus, and formal delivery at conferences, seminars, or symposiums, professional presentations provide a prime opportunity for security professionals to evidence their expertise to learned audiences, existing employers and/or potential employers.
9. Professional Publications: While few security professionals beyond those engaged in academia are generally expected to be accomplished writers, the ability to author informative articles for inclusion in professional publications will significantly contribute to a reputation of authority and expertise. Since asset protection, loss avoidance, and personal security are topics of interest to readers representing diversified career fields, security professionals will often find that their articles yield a special intrigue to editors of real estate, child care, boating, retail and even landscaping publications. Security professionals preparing more substantive papers may wish to submit their works to peer reviewed journals or professional periodicals targeting a more academically focused readership.
10. Professional Recognitions: Typically conferred in recognition of an uncommon achievement, professional honors and awards acknowledge the remarkable accomplishments of distinguished individuals. As an attestation of professional accomplishment, achievement, or exemplary service, professional recognitions serve to validate professional expertise and laudable capabilities of those upon whom the recognition is bestowed. Professional recognitions of significance to security professionals may include, distinguished achievement awards, professional fellowships, academic honors, governmental commendations, and all senior leadership positions assumed in conjunction with professional memberships and organizational affiliations.
About the Author
Robert F. Granzow III, CPP, CFE
Global Security Manager
Robert F. Granzow III, CPP, CFE serves as Global Security Manager at TE Connectivity where he enjoys international oversight of the company’s asset protection, loss prevention, threat assessment, and investigation functions. With academic and experiential qualifications in corporate security management, law enforcement administration and forensic investigations, Mr. Granzow holds a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Forensic Medicine from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, an M.S. degree in Criminal Justice from St. Joseph’s University, a B.S. degree in Criminal Justice from York College of Pennsylvania, and an A.A. degree in Police Administration from Harrisburg Area Community College. He is a graduate of Penn State University’s Police Executive Development Program (POLEX), the International Security Management Association (ISMA) Advanced Leadership Program at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, and the ISMA Senior Executive Leadership Program at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.
Mr. Granzow is an ACFE Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) and past President of the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of Certified Fraud Examiners, an ASIS Certified Protection Professional (CPP) and former Chairman of the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of ASIS International, and a life member of the Northeast Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association.
Mr. Granzow served honorably with the US Naval Reserves and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. He is a municipal graduate of the Pennsylvania State Police Academy and has completed advanced specialized training related to forensic investigations, interview and interrogation, crisis management, and workplace violence interdiction.
A resident of central Pennsylvania, Mr. Granzow serves his community as a medicolegal death investigator and is an active member of Pennsylvania’s medical reserve corps in Lancaster County.