Kaatje Claes, CPP, is security manager for De Museumstichting, a network of fashion, photography, and diamond museums in Antwerp, Belgium. Her studies in criminology taught her the basics of security practice, but it was years later that she realized the full breadth of what the field has to offer.
Kaatje began her security career in 2006 as a contract security guard at Brussels Airport, and by 2008 she had attained a security management position in the museum sector in Antwerp. The activities of this museum management position began to roll back the curtain of the vibrant security world.
"When I started in my current job, the diamond museum was hosting a world-class diamond collection," Claes says. "Stakes were high, as was visibility for the event. Working with a small, extremely focused expert team for that exposition was an incredible experience. No 90 days for me to catch up—total immersion from day one!"
Currently, her daily responsibilities include managing her team of nearly 30 proprietary guards, conducting assessments around the protection of new collections, developing requests for information (RFIs) and system design around refurbishment projects, and reporting team activity to De Museumstichting's CEO.
In 2015, Claes received an invitation to attend the fall meeting of ASIS International's Benelux Chapter. Intrigued by the topics listed on the event agenda, she decided to attend. She quickly realized the professional development opportunities that the Society provides, and she's been a member ever since.
"Being a member of ASIS gives me access to relevant information, a great network, and many career-development opportunities," she says. "As a member of the Cultural Properties Council, I work directly with a great network of peers and enjoy the wonderful possibility to exchange best practices."
After discussing ASIS board certifications with her Benelux Chapter peers, she was convinced of the value of the Certified Protection Professional (CPP®) certification. Driven by the challenge to learn more about security topics in which she had no experience, she approached her employer about the prospects of becoming certified. With her employer's full financial support, she attained her CPP in 2017.
"Without a doubt, the biggest benefit of my CPP certification has been that I learned so much more beyond my own area of expertise," she says. "That full understanding of security that the certification exam requires will help develop my career immensely going forward."
Claes is an expert in her museum security domain and beyond. As a certified professional, she has demonstrated knowledge and competency surrounding seven key domains of modern security practice, including business principles, investigations, information security, and more.
She believes that now is an excellent time to be a security professional: "It is such an exciting line of work and there are so many career possibilities." There is a lot to discover in the world of security, and the pursuit of ASIS board certification has helped her to better understand the whole picture.
With a surer grip on the security landscape, Kaatje Claes now says assuredly, "I contribute to keeping our society safe."