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Keeping up with security and technology trends on a global scale is no easy task. With her decades of experience successfully developing and growing international sales teams, Brenda Koesterman is an expert on what it takes to implement change for global enterprise customers.
For the last +8 years, Brenda has been the Vice President of Global Accounts at Convergint Technologies, a global systems integrator focused on delivering results for their customers through unparalleled service excellence. She leads the Global Strategic Accounts teams across EMEA and pushes them to enhance Convergint Technologies' "Best In Class" service to global organizations. We recently spoke with Brenda about improving security through technology, obstacles to implementing biometrics, and how to address the behavioral issues related to tailgating.
How can global companies who are looking to improve their organizational security posture with a technology implementation best approach the change?
At Convergint, when we work to build a global program for an organisation, we stress how important it is to understand how the technology fits into your overall environment and how it supports the long-term mission and vision of the program. All of the technologies that come into the marketplace, no matter what they are, should be directed at improving the protection of people, assets, and intellectual property within global organizations. That is incredibly important. Long term, they should reduce overall security risks AND reduce your management costs. There's always an upfront capital cost when you're deploying a new technology, so it’s important to understand the ROI. When I'm working with the account executives that I'm mentoring, especially into global accounts, I'm encouraging them to build relationships with technology partners who truly bring significant value and change the environment of the organizations we work with. When working in partnership, the teams can formulate an integrated value proposition and ROI value statement to ensure that the organization is truly implementing integrated systems that bring value, increase operational efficiencies, reduce the total cost of ownership, and make the global environment more secure.
Over the past 30 years, access control technology has evolved slowly, with traditional key cards and pins still the primary tools, with biometrics in more secure areas. But that is starting to change. From a global perspective, what are some obstacles to adopting biometrics in the access control environment?
Organizations are very sensitive to protecting personal information, Europe, in particular, has tremendous sensitivities with the implementation of GDPR and strict privacy laws in every country. At Convergint, we work closely with organizations to point out that they can’t afford to limit themselves because they have concerns about biometric data, nor do they need to be concerned because we have sophisticated processes to manage the data legally. Typically, I walk an organization through the process of how we don't collect biometric data and then transport it. We collect biometric data, we change it into a unique identifier that cannot be reconstituted and has no identifiable information in it. And that's the only thing that gets transported. All of that other data is stored in a secure place that meets all of the legal guidelines.
The implications of tailgating are costly and dangerous for businesses in all industries. Do you believe companies understand the scope of the issue? And, how have you seen technology successfully address the problem - from both the tech perspective and a behavioral compliance point of view?
I do believe organizations understand the scope of the issue. However, they struggle between true safety/security in a corporate environment and the comfort and friendliness of a nice flow in and out of buildings that don’t feel restricted or too closely supervised. Many organizations wait until a catastrophe occurs before they are willing to make a change to prevent or avoid future high-risk or high-cost scenarios. Technologies that allow for authentication while traffic is free-flowing and completely hands-free are of unique interest in these environments.
As a leader in the security industry, what advice would you give to women looking to further their careers?
Always set high expectations for yourself and advocate for yourself and others (regardless of gender). Identify your long-term vision, remember it’s a series of short steps to get there, and focus on achievable, meaningful goals that continue to move you forward. Don't let anybody stand in your way EVER or let anybody tell you you can't achieve great things. We have a saying (well, several) at Convergint, which is “Conquer your fears.” Recognizing your fears, facing them, and finding a way to overcome them, which in my opinion, requires support from your colleagues and peers in the market, is incredibly empowering.
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