“What do you do for work?” a six-year-old asked Gail Essen, CPP, PSP. She replied, “I help important people make sure their buildings are safe and secure.”
Though a simplified statement of security’s functions, it summarizes what practitioners have done throughout history in conducting risk assessments to bring comprehensive safety solutions to their customer objectives.
“Security is dynamic, offering a wide range of markets and positions,” reflected Essen on the industry as a career choice. “From healthcare to oil and gas, from private to public, from physical to IT, from manufacturer to integrator—you can start in one segment and develop into another.”
For eight years, Essen has worked in the Building Technology (BT) division of the Infrastructure and Cities sector at Siemens Industry, Inc. As an Enterprise Security Account Manager, Essen is part of an elite team who implements security strategies for fortune 500 corporations.
Essen’s security career started on the technical side at Silent Knight Security Systems (SKSS), based in Minneapolis. She credits the significant mentoring she received by senior management, which resulted in four promotions culminating as a regional sales manager.
SKSS’ Vice President Brian Dunn and two other regional managers, Sandra Wright and Tricia Hopkins, coached Essen daily for six months, sharing their best practices.
A manager also recommended that Essen become involved in ASIS International.
“ASIS membership has been pivotal to my career, enhancing my knowledge base and expanding my network to a global level,” said Essen. “The leadership development and access to key educational resources have been paramount to my success.”
Today, Essen serves vice chair of the ASIS International’s Women in Security committee where she “pays it forward—it’s extremely rewarding to help foster success in men and women who are entering or transitioning into our industry.”
After SKSS, Essen moved onto regional positions at two other manufacturers. Her favorite and most challenging role was as a product marketing manager at ITI where she was part of the team that launched the industry’s first UL, wireless, fire system..
She transitioned to a systems integrator at Pro-Tec Design, Inc. She also launched two very diverse businesses: one where her company was one of five in the U.S. to be awarded an SBIR grant to develop a secure carton for the cargo industry, and the other as a corporate caterer.
“It was an exciting era, but I decided to return to my roots when I joined a global leader, Siemens Industry, Inc.”
Part of Essen’s career achievements has been attaining two of three ASIS certifications. Her desire to achieve the Certified Protection Professional (CPP)® in September 2012 and Physical Security Professional (PSP)® in April 2014 certifications was to prove mastery of security content to herself, her employer, and to her colleagues and customers.
Why pursue ASIS certifications?
“Certifications create a common language and raise the bar on development and implementation of policies and procedures,” responded Essen. “In the same manner, my company benefits as more of my peers achieve the certifications.”