Certification Profile: Chris McKechnie, PSP
Like many high schoolers, Chris McKechnie, PSP, was looking to make a little extra cash. He decided to work part time with his uncle as a locksmith apprentice, figuring that was as good an opportunity as any. Little did he know that part-time job would be the start of a lifelong career in the security industry.
McKechnie says it all changed for him when he was called to do his first emergency building rekey.
“The rush you get from reporting to such a large security event and being the only one who can solve the problem, the expert, the one with the answer, is out of this world,” McKechnie says.
After high school, McKechnie started working full time with his uncle and learned more about locksmithing. Eventually, McKechnie worked his way up to taking over the daily operations of the company.
Although McKechnie loved his work as a locksmith, he knew that he wanted to do more and expand his role in the security industry.
“I felt stuck in my role as a locksmith and wanted to move my career forward in a meaningful way,” McKechnie says.
McKechnie shared his frustrations with some security managers he worked with, who told him about ASIS International and the certifications ASIS offers. At first, McKechnie was hesitant; he worried the certifications available were not relevant to his current role. He was encouraged when his colleagues highlighted that certifications did not necessarily have to serve his current role, but instead they could help launch him towards his next step.
McKechnie decided to pursue the Physical Security Professional (PSPⓇ) certification. To help prepare, he joined his local ASIS Toronto Chapter, where he was able to participate in PSP study groups.
“I met some amazingly inspiring and helpful people who helped me realize that there was a lot more to the industry and career paths I had never thought of before,” McKechnie says.
With the help of the Toronto chapter, McKechnie passed his PSP certification exam. Despite his doubts, McKechnie found that his certification did help him better understand his role as a locksmith, and it has continued to help him grow his confidence and career.
“In my role as a locksmith, it helped me to see where my day-to-day work fit in the larger picture—I was just one piece of a larger puzzle,” McKechnie says. “I didn't realize it back then, but now, it provides me with credibility. Walking into a room, I have the confidence to speak my mind and share my opinion knowing it carries weight because of those three letters after my name.”
After earning his certification, McKechnie wanted to get more involved with ASIS and help others achieve certification. At a chapter meeting, McKechnie offered to be a mentor for the PSP certification study groups, but chapter leadership raised him one—they asked if he would be the primary facilitator for the PSP group. McKechnie was nervous about taking on so much responsibility and afraid he would not live up to the standards for the group, but he was inspired and reassured by the chapter certification chair, JD Killeen, CPP. With the support from his community, McKechnie accepted.
Walking into a room, I have the confidence to speak my mind and share my opinion knowing it carries weight because of those three letters after my name.
As McKechnie took on his new role, he felt the confidence that had first been instilled in him by Killeen grow. Since joining the certification committee, McKechnie redesigned the format of the PSP study group, had more than 50 certificants pass through his classes, and has now taken over as the certification committee chairperson for the Toronto chapter.
“I love the challenge and reward of knowing that I've helped another person achieve their designation, just like my mentors helped me back when I was still finding my way in the industry,” McKechnie says.
McKechnie now works as a senior security advisor at Trillium Architectural Products in Toronto. He credits studying for the PSP exam with helping to provide him with a technical footing for the design of access control and video management systems he works with at Trillium. In his current position, McKechnie works primarily with clients, consulting on and designing master key systems and physical security systems for clients across Canada.
In addition to the value of his certification, McKechnie appreciates how being a member of ASIS has allowed him to build both a professional network and community.
“I think the most valuable part of my membership has been the ability to network and make connections with people, from security managers to CSOs,” he says. “I have made contact and lasting professional relationships with some of the industry's best.”
Emily Callahan is a communications specialist for ASIS International. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.