Pamela Cichon, CPP, began working as a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) in 1987. Her career was postmarked for success.
In the 30 years since, she has worked her way up to become a program manager in physical security within the Security Group at the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s national headquarters.
As her career evolved from letter carrier to supervisor in delivery to operations to federal law enforcement, Cichon saw the benefits of pursuing a role in security. “As an inspector, much of your attention is focused on the result of a crime...after the fact. In security, you have the chance to thwart security breaches, keep customers and employees safe, and protect U.S. postal assets.”
There is no such thing as a typical day for Cichon. In her current role, she provides guidance and assists with physical security policy interpretations for the USPS. She oversees programs that are responsible for assessing the physical security of more than 31,000 USPS facilities.
Sometimes, this means investigating mail fraud. In October, it meant dealing with the aftermath of a 300-pound bear’s intrusion into a mail facility in Alaska. The wide variety of situations that Cichon must adapt to is part of what makes each day interesting and unique.
In 2006, she was one of 36 postal inspectors selected to pursue the Certified Protection Professional (CPP®) certification. Memberships, study materials, and certification exam fees were covered through a national headquarters sponsored program.
Cichon was excited to be selected because “board certification offers tremendous credibility and accountability,” she says. “It shows your commitment to understanding key security concepts and applying them.”
Cichon, who now serves on the ASIS Physical Security Council, leverages her CPP certification and ASIS membership to work her way through tough situations. “My membership has opened up a whole world of networking contacts,” she says. “When I find a challenge at work, my ASIS contacts offer a wealth of knowledge and are a valuable resource.”
Looking to double up on ASIS certification, Cichon will sit for her Physical Security Professional® (PSP) exam in spring 2018. When prompted for advice she’d offer someone considering whether to pursue a certification, she recommends making a plan and committing to it.
“Evaluate what is involved and be prepared to dedicate time each week to study the materials,” she suggests. “Select an exam date early, so you have a goal in mind, and work backwards from that date. Find out if your local chapter is conducting a certification review course. ASIS sponsors prep classes that offer a one-and-a-half-day intensive review, and there is an online review that may hold the key for someone who needs that kind of versatility.”
Cichon notes that in an age where security is touching every aspect of our lives, there is tremendous credibility in the fact that you have knowledge, and understand how to apply it, in the field of security. ASIS board certification, combined with its accompanying continuing education requirement, is a great way to demonstrate security expertise.
“I find it gives me street cred,” she concludes.