Women in Security Feature: Brigitte F. Daniel, Wilco Electronic Systems – Security Systems News

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Women in Security Feature: Brigitte F. Daniel, Wilco Electronic Systems

Women in Security

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By SSN Staff

Updated 9: 30 AM CST, Mon February 15, 2021

Women in Security Feature: Brigitte F. Daniel, Wilco Electronic Systems

YARMOUTH, Maine—As part of Security Systems News’ and the Security Industry Association (SIA) Women in Security Forum’s (WISF’s) partnership to highlight the contributions of women in security, this month’s feature is on Brigitte F. Daniel, Esq., executive vice president, Wilco Electronic Systems, Inc., which has been dedicated to providing cable television, telecom, broadband and technology services to underserved communities and various class levels of multifamily housing developments for more than 40 years.

“After the acquisition of Wilco’s cable division by Comcast in 2017, we pivoted the company’s focus and began to head forward back to our roots, the integration of security access and technology systems,” Daniel told SSN. “However, now armed with leadership of 2nd generation family and fueled with new cloud-based technology platforms, we have become a modern and unique integrator sitting at the epicenter between the convergence of real estate, technology and impact.”

The most recent “sustained inspiration,” she noted, has been growing over the last five years. “We started to see that the home was becoming a tech hub and representing so much more than just housing, particularly through the integration and augmentation of smart technology,” she explained. “Housing meant health, housing meant smart energy, housing meant new opportunities for empowering families, communities and cities.”

The following is taken from an exclusive Q&A with Daniel:

SSN: What is your role at Wilco?

DANIEL: Although I am currently the Executive Vice President of Wilco, I will be transitioning to become the Chief Executive Officer this year. In this role, I take on a broad portfolio of responsibilities that includes providing overall leadership and strategic vision impacting the growth and future of our company. I spearhead the creation of business partnerships that are now focused on scaling our services and unique integration models to other regions of the Nation. Lastly, I work with our teams to continue to build out our boutique offering of security solutions that include and centers impact, technology and access — our founding principles. We are all taking immense pride and becoming hopeful in seeing these principles become more in demand as the Country continues to address, heal and move forward beyond these challenging times. 

SSN: What has your journey been like in a primarily male-dominated and historically non-diverse security industry?

DANIEL: The security industry is greatly underrated ... which makes it so very interesting.  On one hand, we are in a time in history where the industry is in its most innovative, iterative and seminal moments. Hands down will be one the most dynamic segments to watch for the next 10 years. Technology is not only fueling new business opportunities but the societal importance of security and safety in unprecedented ways. Data and new software platforms are driving significant value propositions and being used with new intention and impact. And the industry is engaging and being personally adopted by people and communities, across all demographics and incomes, in historic proportions. So to be a black woman owner/security operator I am honored to participate in these seismic industry shifts. It has been beyond a rewarding and exciting journey. I wake up on most days, inspired even in spite of these trying times in our Nation.

However, on the other hand, it is still a male dominated and relationship driven business. And that has also made the journey challenging and at times daunting given the obstacles we have to avert. Obstacles to just gain basic business legitimacy and opportunities, that I am still sometimes shocked to still encounter given our 40 years of providing security services. The obstacles that if I were a man and white…I would never face. The obstacles…are plenty.

But I remain vigilant and hopeful to see inclusion take priority as a business imperative. I honestly think there is a hunger for it within the industry. So I look forward to the part of the journey where I and my company can establish partnerships across the Nation, with ease, that helps to create new business models where inclusion and people are centered and new security design strategies are built upon those grounding now greatly needed principles. 

SSN: What has been done to get more women/diversity into leadership/management roles in the industry, and what else can be done? (How far have we come and how far do we still have to go?)

DANIEL: For over a decade, there has been a national movement to increase diversity and inclusion within technology. What is interesting about the security industry is that we have not been included in those discussions despite the industry evolving into a technology driven sector.

However, within the last three years we are seeing change especially being spearheaded by the Security Industry Association (SIA). Through SIA, more programs and initiatives, including the Women in Security Forum (WISF) and the RISE program, has catapulted a new conversation on the recruitment and advancement of women and diverse leaders. Over the last 3 years, WISF has gained a membership of 600+ women which is historic given that before 3 years there was not a group focused on the promotion of women in the sector. And lastly, the newly launched SIA Talent Inclusion Mentorship Education (TIME) program designed to promote diversity, equity and inclusion and empowerment of underrepresented identities and leaders in the security industry is timely, extremely relevant and absolutely needed to continue the momentum of advancement.

So change is happening…slowly but surely. And I am excited to see what the future will hold as more diverse partnerships are brokered between minority owned companies in the security and access space and more diverse leaders are developed and cultivated on the importance of the inclusion of diverse insight and perspectives in design rooms and at the board table.

SSN: Have you had any role models who have helped you out along the way that you would like to mention?

DANIEL: Yes, my role models have included, of course, the founder of Wilco and my father, Will Daniel. Most recently, our strategic vendors and partners whom we now engage to assist with our service offerings, have also provided guidance and critical assistance as we continue to build these new areas of growth for our company. And most importantly, the communities and customers that we serve, provide priceless direction and strategic intel to the pain points of what customers really want, what they need, what they value, and how best to engage them with solutions they will purchase and use to better augment their facilities. Blessed to be able to find and gain wisdom from role models at all points of the value and supply chain.

SSN: What advice would you give other women thinking about getting into the industry or just starting out in the industry?

DANIEL: Over this past year we have seen our nation and the world undergo historic disruption of the pillars of our health, our economies and our ability to ensure racial equality of minority and diverse communities, specifically African American communities.

So, if there was ever a time for women to lean into the security industry, it is now. The diversity and inclusion of the industry is critical to the growth of our sector that is increasingly engaging and touching the users and the communities that are seeking safety, in multilayered ways, and desiring technologies they can access with personal devices and within their homes. In addition, the talent and perspectives of a diverse and inclusive security sector will also be pivotal to ensuring the continual innovation needed to create the solutions that address the disruption that we have all lived within 2020 (health, economy and social justice, for example).  Women and minority leaders in the security industry will not only be paramount going forward, they will be required.

My advice simply is to join in, jump in and let’s continue to build this movement. This is the time.

SSN: What are your views on the industry moving forward, from both from a diversity perspective and a technology and business perspective during these unpredictable times?

DANIEL: I am bullish on the industry moving in the direction of change in numerous ways, especially during these challenging times that are resetting our culture, our safety, our new normalizations, and our business priorities.

But it will take intentional action and a dose of acceptance of biases, from leaders in the C-Suite all the way to technicians on the ground, in order to foster the inclusive innovation needed to make inroads and impact in the security sector. 

A few areas of focus that will help to move the dial:

Redefining Safety and Care

Redefining what safety means and what it means to all different types of people and markets, will be fundamental to how we transition the sector and how we succeed as an industry. Furthermore, the more we have an appropriate representation of experiences and identities to weigh in and input on these new definitions, the better.

Recruitment

Where we recruit talent, place talent and groom talent will be key. Reaching out to HBCUs, local community colleges and vocational schools, as well as establishing relationships with local public institutions are great options to find new diverse talent that can be cultivated early and sustainably.

Broadening Partnerships and Network of Vendors

“If you always do the same thing, you will always get the same results.” This is a true statement that can definitely be ascribed to our sector as it pertains not only to forging diversity but to also designing and providing security services that meet the times.  

Broadening the reach of diverse partners and vendors will create sustainability for all security/security related firms going forward during this new decade of the 2020s. Those firms span the ecosystem---real estate, facility management teams, architects, engineers, security hardware providers, security software creators and last and most importantly, the integrators that deploy, install and are on the ground touching the end users. 

Working outside of comfort zones to ensure this ecosystem is robust and is reflective of our changing Nation, is the path. Engaging in authentic conversations that are not just for media attention but for diversity intention, absolutely vital   And as Co- Founder of Integrated Security Technologies Andrew Lanning, stated,  “Inclusion needs to happens at the lunch table, at the gym, on the golf course and at the board table.”  This is where bonds are created. This is where relationships are made. This is where we make strides to bridge the gaps and create the industry that we know we can and should be

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