Read our interview with Pastor, a 2017 winner of the RISE scholarship, and learn how you can apply for this year’s award!
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: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Esteban Pastor: I’m a technical support engineer at ZKteco, a leading global manufacturer of hybrid biometric security devices. Prior to entering the security industry, I spent a few years in radio broadcasting, testing and preparing professional broadcasting equipment. I live in New Jersey with my fiancée, who I will marry in fall 2018.
SIA: What first got you interested in security and safety as a career choice?
EP: As a young kid in school, I understandably took personal safety for granted. But in recent years, considering the heightened media attention paid to global and domestic terrorism (especially gun violence in schools), I wanted to learn about ways people and property can be better protected. ZKTeco was the ideal career choice for me since they focus on entrance control technology.
SIA: What has your career path been?
EP: After graduating high school, I enrolled in school for broadcast communications. The broadcast radio production field initially seemed very exciting to me; I love music and playing guitar and thought learning about audio production would open multiple career choices for me in the music industry. But, for various reasons, I became stagnated, and everyone knows how competitive the music industry is. While becoming more concerned about all the gun violence in the news, I began thinking about what I could do to make a difference. During my research on security and safety I learned about ZKTeco; the company had such a comprehensive, evolving product line of security devices, including hybrid biometrics, that I knew I’d never grow stagnant, always feel challenged and feel good about helping people be safer and more secure. ZKTeco has been such a rewarding place for me to develop both my security and customer service skills.
SIA: Who has influenced you or mentored you – either within the security field or outside?
EP: My first and lifelong mentors will always be my parents. They have always instilled values and made me a believer that hard work always pays off. In the security field my mentors have been our company president, Manish Dalal, and our CEO, Larry Reed. In fact, they are the ones who encouraged me to apply for the prestigious SIA RISE scholarship. They have always showed faith in me and are always there to help with any issue or offer support for anything I choose to do.
SIA: What’s something most people don’t know about you?
EP: Most people are unaware that I am a musician and have played in bands for 15 years. I’ve been able to tour the country and play some truly amazing venues! Still today when time permits, I play with my band at smaller local venues.
Receiving the SIA RISE scholarship impressed my manager so much that he sent me to visit our corporate office in China to learn from the research and development team and share my ideas on improving our security technology and bringing even more value to our customers. Great trip, despite the fact my Chinese colleagues were mad at me because I forgot to bring my guitar!
SIA: What advice do you have for young professionals just starting out in the industry?
EP: The best career advice I can give anyone is to take their time to discover what truly brings them joy and fulfillment. Once you do, you’ll never feel as if you’re actually working; your vocation and personal life will blend into one. I’m not saying my workday at ZKTeco is “nirvana,” but I can say my days fly by because of the tremendous personal reward I feel from applying technology to help our customers. If this industry is something you want to be a part of, then find your niche. There are so many aspects to this field in which you can specialize and become valuable. The last thing is to NEVER stop learning! This industry moves quickly, so it’s important to be willing to learn something new.
SIA: What do you think you need to enhance your career?
EP: I would always say more education – I think that holds true for everyone.
SIA: What do you enjoy most about being at your company – and in the security industry?
EP: I enjoy the countless opportunities I have here to learn and help customers. Thankfully, ZKTeco has so many customers who began using only one of our products, but then seek my help learning about additional products which can further improve their safety and security. I work with a wonderful team in a great environment. My employment here has allowed me to learn all about safety and security and travel to places I never dreamed imaginable. From others in the security industry I have learned more about what customers want versus need – and the patience to explain to them the difference. I will see what other companies are doing and can implement what works on their end to our advantage. We have been doing a fair amount of integrations with other access control and video security companies, and I get the chance to see their motivation and how their systems work.
SIA: How did you use the SIA RISE Scholarship funds, and how did it benefit your career?
EP: I used the RISE Scholarship funds for taking classes towards getting my Network + certification. It has really been a huge help when it comes to discussing with our dealers how our solutions can be implemented on different types of networks to best suit their customers needs.
SIA: What does the SIA RISE program offer that is most important to you/your company? And what do you most hope to get out of your membership?
EP: What’s mattered most to me is the ability to learn about essential aspects of the security industry while working side by side with fellow young ambitious professionals just like me. The camaraderie has been fantastic. As for my employer, I have no doubt that since returning from SIA courses I am a much more effective technical support engineer which ultimately benefits our customers. I’m quite thankful the for the educational opportunity SIA has afforded me, and I plan on becoming an active SIA member in my continuing education as a security professional.
Being a SIA member is a long-term commitment for ZKteco; every year we exhibit at ISC West and East. I love getting the opportunity to meet our customers face to face; there’s nothing like putting a face to a name and forging relationships.
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 email@example.com to get involved. While you’re at it, stay in touch with us on LinkedIn and Facebook.