What does it mean to you and what do you see as the key opportunity to be named by IFSEC Global to its international list of the Top 40 Most Influential People in Security for 2014?
Well to start with it’s a great honour, and when I see past and present winners such as Jason Brown from Thales Australia, Bruce Schnier, Mike Howard from Microsoft, Richard Widup the current President of ASIS International, and prominent female security professionals such as Emma Shaw from the Security Institute – I feel humbled to be a part of such an esteemed list.
Where do you see the industry heading?
The security industry is adjusting to both internal developments and a shifting geopolitical landscape. The security profession has been developing and maturing. Particularly since 9/11, the security community across disciplines and domains, and including the public sector, private sector and NGO sector, has focused increasingly on resilience, both locally, at the enterprise level, and across jurisdictions. The drive among security professionals to augment capabilities and increase capacity has meant enhancing collaboration and information sharing, while maintaining diversity of professional expertise and deepening professional knowledge. The increasing complexity of threats, requiring closer collaboration and greater professionalism among security professionals and bodies, has led to both a broader network of information sharing and networking among professionals – the SPF is a champion of this – at the same time that the security community is increasing its standards and certifications.
Meanwhile, the domains and disciplines of security recognized the need for increased cross-pollination, while maintaining professional expertise, depth of knowledge and specialisations. Professional security-related associations are likewise adjusting to the new geopolitical landscape, with some expanding internationally, and trying to bridge knowledge and experience globally. This is not without challenges given the more rigid, hierarchical structures that professional associations typically have, with membership- focused mandates and objectives. The geopolitical landscape has shifted significantly. Since the end of the Cold War threats have globalised and have in some cases been able to operate with great fluidity and agility. Threats, such as organised crime, insurgents and terrorists operated and even collaborated across jurisdictions.
Western states were unable to match the agile nature of how these threats operated, and struggled to counter threats head- on under more rigid partnerships, alliances and coalition structures, such as NATO. The lessons learned from the wars on crime and terrorism, and in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and globally, affirmed the necessity of information sharing and leveraging best practices and lessons learned among partners across domains and disciplines and across jurisdictions. They are also struggling to rebalance state sovereignty and alliance priorities, currently demonstrated in Ukraine and Russia, and complicated by international trade considerations. The security community had great incentive to collaborate and fewer hurdles to collaboration than militaries or private corporations. What became clear was that cooperation across states and in a complex theatre with state, military, private sector, and civilian actors, collaboration was possible and necessary, but that it was exceptionally difficult to operate in a strategically coherent way given the differences in capabilities and priorities of the individual entities. These individual entities also brought their own strengths. Again, this required breadth and depth.
What are some of the challenges you think the industry is faced with?
As resilience improves, funding is becoming harder to come across. The strategic surprise that spurred funding following attacks, is now not a first-reaction to events. Over time, the effect of strategic surprise following attacks, security breaches, and other attacks, lessened as security and communities became more resilient. The security community’s own success is becoming a hurdle in itself to sustaining momentum. Much discussion has come into play about arguing the case for security to the C-Suite, political decision- makers and the public. A continued problem for the security community is at the operational level. The formula for information sharing and collaboration with different levels of government has been elusive. It is difficult to reconcile different capabilities and capacity among partners at different levels of government, with different resources, priorities, and with different amounts of focus on a specific project or effort. Building the relationships in advance to need is key, and the SPF is focused on doing just that. There is also a grey area concerning how much sharing is too much sharing. Particularly
since the Snowden leaks, liberal intelligence sharing among the Five Eyes has been a concern and much discussion is required, particularly as intelligence collection and sharing now includes more security partners than the traditional intelligence agencies, rather private sector and additional partners. Privacy concerns and public debate on security collaboration and sharing are being called for.
What did you set out to achieve in founding the Security Partner’s Forum?
My position as Co-Founder of the Security Partners’ Forum came as a result of need for greater collaboration within the Canadian (and later international) security industry. I had previously conducted research into the professionalisation of the security industry and found it was too siloed. I set out to create an entity that could break these silos and enhance the Canadian (and later international) security capacity. The SPF is at the front of the curve of where the security community is heading and affecting how the security community will operate in this new geopolitical landscape. As such it has the best view and ability to accelerate trends to help security – positioned well in front of the curve of change. It is the cutting edge of building an agile network from and of the security community globally that can challenge security threats head-on.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I’m an avid reader and I’m also a big fan of spontaneous road trips.