'20 under 40' 2012 - Chris Vanderbles

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Chris Vanderbles, 33
Manager of technical services
Security Control Systems
Houston, Texas

How did you get into the security industry?

I got into the industry through lateral movement. I was hired as a network administrator for one of our sister companies, an access-control system integration company in Colorado, back in 1997, and they determined that I had a penchant for more than just network administration. I joined Security Control Systems in 1999. There’s lots of variety. I’m not necessarily chained behind the desk every day. I could be doing software development one day and out at a customer site wiring a panel the next, so it really lets me keep my skill set nice and wide.

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

We’re really hurting for young blood in the industry, particularly in the higher ranks. If you’re going to get to a very high level and do high-end systems integration, you have to start young and on the technical side of things. But it’s a very niche industry. It’s not like you can go out and buy a book on how to be a high-level systems engineer. So you almost need to reach out into the colleges, particularly in the computer sciences and electrical engineering and in the fields that typically go in other directions, and have a student work program.

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

Without a question it would be Bill Savage, president of Security Control Systems. He’s been influential in a number of ways, including his business ethics. He’s always said, “Do what’s right for the customer, even if it’s not necessarily right for us.” I identify with that.