Read our interview with RISE Committee Chair Brendan McFall of Northland Controls, as the Security Industry Association (SIA) spotlights a young professional on the rise!
Applications are now being accepted for scholarships offered through the Security Industry Association’s (SIA’s) RISE program. The SIA RISE scholarship provides young security professionals with funds for professional development courses and/or academic programs. Learn how you can apply for one of 10 $3,000 scholarships here!
SIA: We last profiled you back in January 2017 – in what ways has your security career grown/changed since then?
Brendan McFall: Although it has only been a year and a half since I was originally profiled, it feels like so much longer! Shortly after I was interviewed, I switched departments within Northland Controls to our new professional services (PS) “business unit.” Up until that time, most of my experience at Northland had been spent on the integration or physical installation side of the house. In an effort to learn more about the engineering sector of the industry, I eagerly joined the newly created PS department as a technical project manager. Since that time, I’ve gotten to lead exciting and challenging projects for some of our largest customers!
SIA: What’s something most people don’t know about you?
BM: In my previous profile, I described how I “stumbled” into the industry with an education in economics and no background at all in security. What I didn’t share, was that in addition to earning my bachelor’s degree with a major in economics, I also minored in dance! I share this because all those dance classes taught me invaluable lessons that I carry with me to work every day.
Firstly, dance taught me the importance of having confidence in yourself. It’s easy to tell when someone is dancing with confidence versus someone who is reluctantly doing so. Secondly, I learned how rewarding trying new or different things can be. I know both of these sound clichéd, but dance has absolutely helped me progress throughout my career. I’m always willing to take on new challenges, whether that’s flying out to Singapore for four months or changing jobs to a completely different department. When you combine the willingness to take on tough tasks/projects with a confident and positive attitude, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish!
SIA: What do you enjoy most about being at your company – and in the security industry?
BM: The thing I enjoy most about working at Northland is our culture. While just about everyone has heard of the infamous “Northland Challenges,” (think Amazing Race on CBS), it’s the day-to-day feel of the company that makes coming to work fun. I work alongside some of the smartest people in the industry, on bleeding-edge technologies, for Fortune 100 companies. That makes for a pretty exciting job!
What I love about the industry is the current convergence of physical and cybersecurity, combined with the growth of the Internet of Things. As a millennial, I’m obsessed with all things “smart,” and getting to work with the latest gadgets and technologies is awesome.
SIA: How did you come to get involved with SIA’s RISE program?
BM: My involvement began with a request to fill out the RISE profile from Bryan Miller, SIA’s manager of operations. After I got to know Bryan, he told me that SIA was creating a RISE committee comprised of colleagues with a common goal of increasing SIA’s reach to fellow young security professionals. I immediately told Bryan that I was interested and joined as the committee’s vice chair in charge of social media operations. A year later, I was asked to lead the group as its chair and accepted.
SIA: What has your experience ben like as chair of the RISE committee?
BM: I have loved my time so far as chair of the SIA RISE committee! I am joined by a collection of amazing young professionals from all different aspects of the security industry – from integrators to manufacturers to end users. Additionally, SIA has been very receptive to our feedback, and it’s awesome to see the impact that the group has on both SIA and the industry as a whole.
SIA: In your opinion, what does the SIA RISE program offer that is most important to young security professionals and companies? What can people get out of being involved?
BM: I think SIA offers something for everyone, and what’s most important to a given individual will vary on their job/role. Personally, I can think of three offerings that have made a difference in my career: education, certifications and networking.
I’ve been fortunate enough to both attend and lead my own courses at industry trade shows through SIA. This year, SIA created the first-ever RISE-specific educational track at ISC West. If you’re planning on attending the show next year, I’d encourage you to attend those courses or, if you’re up to it, lead your own. Both are very rewarding options.
Certifications are also a great way for young people to advance in their careers. I hold SIA’s Certified Security Project Manager certification and plan to begin working on my project management professional certification next year.
Lastly, the networking events that SIA provides – like the ISC West cocktail party and SIAThere! – are always great opportunities to meet fellow colleagues and expand your network.
SIA: How do you and your organization engage with SIA and the RISE program? What are your plans for involvement going forward (e.g., events, accessing member resources)?
BM: There’s one item the RISE group is currently working on that I’m very excited about. SIA has begun creating a “Security 101” program, which will be an excellent resource for young professionals who are new the security industry. The program will consist of educational content to provide new employees with a wider background on the industry than they may get at their company-specific training. I think this will be extremely valuable to both member companies and those new to the industry.
Are you a young security professional under 40? Join SIA’s RISE program. We’re a group of up-and-comers in the security industry trying to help each other grow our careers, expand industry knowledge, further professional development and have some fun together. Get started by filling out the form on the SIA RISE page, or contact SIA staff liaison Bryan Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved. While you’re at it, stay in touch with us on LinkedIn and Facebook.