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Last month ASIS announced the launch of its first ever Regional Boards of Directors. Shortly after the ASIS Blog sat down with Donna Kobzaruk, the new North American Regional Board Chair and Erik de Vries, CPP, PSP, Chair of the ASIS European Regional Board of Directors to learn more about what ASIS means to them and their new roles.  

How were you originally introduced to ASIS?  

DK: When I first transferred into a security role, my manager strongly encouraged me to become a member. He sang ASIS’s praises as being an outstanding organization for security professionals. Come to think of it, ASIS was the only organization he talked about. So, I knew it would work for me. 

EDV: Following my military career and three years living/working in Indonesia, I started working for a private security company (now G4S) in The Netherlands. After a while I realized that the security profession was much more interesting than I first anticipated. To develop myself further in security I contacted Joop Verdonk of the European Security Academy (who was then one of the ‘security gurus’ in The Netherlands) to explore what courses, training or so were available in the security profession. He advised me to go for the CPP certification. Before I started my study, I visited a chapter meeting of the ASIS Benelux chapter and was invited to become a member. The rest is history. 

What does membership in ASIS mean to you?

DK: I have learned so much about the security industry through the years. Every member is so willing to assist one another in gaining knowledge. ASIS Communities are the ‘go-to’ groups that will answer any security question a member may have. It’s also a phenomenal organization to increase your network.  

EDV: Looking back on that first introduction to ASIS and studying for CPP is still the foundation for my ASIS membership. At that very first chapter meeting I hardly knew anyone, and I was just as uncomfortable as most people would be (except those brawling denying that) in a new and strange environment. But I was very quickly introduced, and the other ASIS members were incredibly open and friendly and made me feel welcome. And that is what ASIS membership still is for me. It does open doors while total strangers will welcome you for the simple fact that you are a fellow ASIS member.

The other part of membership is linked to my initial CPP study. Although I had a lot of knowledge in certain security domains, several other parts were quite new for me. And that is what I still like about CPP. It forces you to look beyond your own expertise and become a security generalist. That security knowledge is exactly what is so abundantly available within ASIS. If you are open to it, you can find anything and ASIS members are very willing to share that information. So, when someone asks me what ASIS membership is about, I have a simple answer: knowledge sharing, networking, and great meetings, or events.  

I still believe that one of the reasons behind the success of the ASIS ‘family’ is that most security professionals are relative loners in their organizations. And ASIS provides them with a platform to be among peers and openly discuss dilemmas and challenges, and in the end make new friends.  

What does your new role on the North American Regional Board (Donna) European Regional Board (Erik) and the ASIS Global Board of Directors mean to you? 

DK: Because I’ve been given so much through ASIS membership, whether it be knowledge or support in my career, I want to pay it forward. It’s important for me to support ASIS and its members. The entire North America Regional Board has members who are just as passionate in their support of ASIS. And it’s also our passion to continue ASIS’s standard in being the premier worldwide security organization. It’s my honor to Chair this board of my peers.  

EDV: First, it is a great honor to be the very first chair of the ASIS Europe Regional Board of Directors. I was humbled when JP asked me if I wanted to accept that role. At the same time, I realize it will be important work and challenging to lay out a path for this regional board, simply because there is now a precedent. I know we can do it because I do have a talented team beside me of seasoned volunteers and security professionals. We are all very motivated to turn this into a success.

The very first thing is to discover what our role will be. In my view, we will focus on keeping what is good and improving what is not. We do not need to re-invent the wheel, just make sure that European members see that we can get that wheel turning for their benefit, nevertheless which country or culture they operate in. Do not forget, in Europe, we have a few exceptionally large and active chapters, but also many small chapters (who are just as active) that need help. Very often the language is a major hurdle in growing the chapter or being able to make use of the membership benefits. We need to be open to that.

Therefore, our three main targets will be: creating optimal membership benefits for European ASIS members in all chapters, supporting volunteers in chapters and communities for sharing their networks through excellent speakers or mutual events, and improving the governance structures to ensure a good basis for certification, knowledge sharing, and networking, for example in the ASIS Europe annual event.