by Mary Alice Davidson, Principal, Davidson Communications
Anjali Sniadowski, CPP, PSP, admits that a security career may not be for everyone. She can list some downsides: irregular hours and hard work. But in her mind, the pluses outweigh any negatives.
"If you are someone who likes to help people, be part of a mission greater than yourself, and don't mind unique challenges, it's definitely the right path for you," she says.
Sniadowski came to security in an unconventional way. She started on an academic track focusing on nonproliferation studies and WMD terrorism. But her focus shifted as she completed some consulting engagements that highlighted the intersection between government security programs and the private sector.
This interest led to a position with iJET, where she has worked for the last 12 years. She started as a watch operations manager, overseeing the intelligence analysts that produce the company's global alerts and situation reports, and she was recently promoted to director of global programs.
"Global Programs is a matrixed organization," she explains, which can involve pulling in multiple intelligence analysts, subject matter experts, and program managers to support a client's security program. In short, Sniadowski is "an embedded resource with iJET's top clients, helping design and run their travel risk management programs."
"When I hear from a client that our program provided medical evacuations or guidance on how to handle an emerging security issue, it's very rewarding," she says.
This intersection between the worlds of security and program management led Sniadowski to pursue ASIS board certifications. Preparing for the Physical Security Professional® (PSP) and Certified Protection Professional® (CPP) tests also exposed Sniadowski to aspects of security management beyond those she deals with regularly.
"It's imperative to understand the challenges and concerns facing a company's security department and speak the same language," she says. "The PSP and CPP certifications allow me to have intelligent and forthright conversations with CSOs along with security directors and managers to ensure we're properly addressing their specific requirements. You need to be playing from the same sheet of music."
She advises persons considering certification to research which one will help further their career. While iJET encourages all employees to pursue education and certifications as a part of their professional development, Sniadowski encourages others to turn to resources in their local chapter and to seek out mentors.
"What's great about this profession is that there are so many avenues one can pursue," and she lists physical security, cybersecurity, crisis management, business continuity, and investigations as examples. ASIS International will help provide the right networking and educational resources to develop each path, she notes.
"I strongly believe you stagnate the moment you start resting on your laurels," says Sniadowski, and staying on top of emerging threats and trends in security management is important. To that end, she says, "ASIS is the perfect association to help you push your boundaries."