'20 under 40' 2012 - Bijal Thakkar

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bijal Thakkar, 38
Director, global product management
Johnson Controls
Milwaukee, Wis.

How did you get into the security industry?

I had come to the United States (from India) to do my MBA and after I finished, Ademco Pittway was looking for some talent that did not necessarily come from the industry but had the right analytical and thinking skills. They were really trying to infuse their marketing department with some graduates who had a new sense of energy and really none of the preconceived notions of what the industry was all about. I joined the industry (as assistant product manager) in the late ’90s as part of Ademco Pittway, which later got acquired by Honeywell. After about 10 years, for personal reasons, I moved to Austin (Texas) … and I worked in a different industry for about a year, but I missed the security industry. Johnson Controls was looking more for product management talent … and that’s how I ended up there in 2010.

What can be done to attract more young people to the industry?

I remember when I interviewed with Gordon Hope, now with Honeywell, but at that time he was vice president of marketing (at Ademco Pittway). I had no marketing experience because I was originally in corporate finance and chemistry, and I certainly had no security experience … and if he had not seen the potential in me from a security and marketing standpoint, I would not be here today. … So, it’s up to the leaders of this industry to really look for that young talent, recognize it, mentor it and nurture it so that there are leaders of tomorrow.

Who in the industry has helped you most in your security career?

Gordon Hope would be one of them. … Gordon had a lot of influence on the development of my skill set.