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The Wharton Program: How Speaking the Language of Business Moves Security Forward

Security Management staff member Michael Gips participated in the Wharton/ASIS Program for Security Executives in November 2015.

The program seeks to provide the leadership and management skills to communicate the bottom-line impact of security decisions to the C-suite to move security profiles forward.

A few months after completing the program, Gips reached out students from the course as well as alumni from the earlier iterations of the program to see how the course benefited them and their companies. Here are some of the key topic areas, takeaways, and real-world applications.

While not a course topic itself for the 2015 cohort, "speaking the language of business" ran like a thread through every topic of the Wharton program. Learning to converse on the same plane as the C-suite drew many students to the course.

Frank Munoz, CPP, regional security advisor, western hemisphere, for Occidental Oil & Gas Corporation, took the 2014 iteration of the course.

"People tell you, you have to speak the language of business. But what does that mean?" Munoz asks.

For him, it meant knowing his audience and what security can offer, then framing issues in the context of impact on the bottom line.

"Executives understand profit and loss statements, credits and debits, Munoz says. "Law enforcement-speak and military jargon doesn't resonate with them."

An understanding of and facility with business terminology helped give him a trusted position at the table, he adds.

Of course, talk is cheap if it isn't followed by action. Munoz says that working with senior executives has given him insight into company strategy and enabled him to adjust security's operations in service of overall corporate goals.

The enhanced credibility from this has put security on the ground floor of projects so security can be considered from the outset, which is more cost effective than bringing it in after the fact, he explains. And early involvement enables security to better partner with other departments.

For different course highlights, check out "Giving Them the Business" in the July issue of Security Management, available July 1.

To learn more about the 2016 Wharton/ASIS Program on October 23 to 28, visit Wharton University of Pennsylvania's website.

ASIS Chief Global Knowledge & Learning Officer Michael Gips can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter:@MikeGips.