Meet the Class of 2011: 20 under 40

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

YARMOUTH, Maine—Congratulations to the “20 under 40” Class of 2011. The editors of Security Systems News are pleased to present you with our fifth annual “20 under 40,” list of talented young people in the industry.

The 20 under 40 feature is something the editors of Security Systems News enjoy working on. And this year, we really had our work cut out for us. With seven days fewer than normal to finish the project, we found ourselves with the largest pile of nominations we’ve ever had to sift through.

How do we go about selecting those 20? First, there’s absolutely nothing scientific about it. Beyond the qualifications that candidates must work for a fire or security installer/integrator or for a monitoring company, candidates don’t need to meet any special requirements.

While many on this year’s list and past lists have impressive titles, we’re not necessarily looking for candidates who are CEOs or presidents. Sometimes it’s a candidate’s hard work, ambition or creativity—in addition to leadership qualities, that wins us over.

We read through all of the nominations, we compare notes, we debate, discuss, compromise and, eventually, after several go-rounds, we somehow whittle the field down to 20.

Next come the personal interviews. The basis for the profiles you’ll read in this section is three questions we ask each of the candidates: “How did you get into the security industry?” “What would you like your legacy to be/How would you like to be remembered in the security industry?”; and, “What do you think can or should be done to attract more talented young people into the industry?”

Every year, we have those who are born into the industry. Once again, we have a strong showing of legacy candidates. These are the candidates whose parents or grandparents started an alarm company, and they’re now part of that company or a similar company.

Over the past five years, we’ve noticed more nominees for whom security is their “first job.” Other than the legacies, the security industry has been historically populated by ex-law enforcement and former military officers. Security was a second career for many.

This year, however, several candidates were recruited into the industry directly from school. In many cases, it’s the opportunity to be creative with new and sophisticated technology that piqued their interest. Perhaps this suggests the industry is starting to do a better job getting the word out about the opportunities that exist in this relatively small but growing industry?

That leads to our final question about ways to attract talented young people. It’s a question that generally elicits some substantive answers. For example, Beth Tarnoff, the 28-year-old marketing director for North America and United Kingdom Direct, Stanley Convergent Security Solutions, who incidentally graduated as a Top Collegiate Scholar and summa cum laude from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, offered a mini-marketing plan in response to that question this year. We thought you’d find it interesting:

It all comes down to education, she says. “At Stanley, we are involved on college campuses with career fairs and posting open positions on their websites/boards.” Tarnoff cites five ways to educate young people on the advantages of a career in the security industry: internships, success stories, opportunity showcases, non-industry associations, and social marketing. Internships are a great experience for students “which they then share with their classmates and that furthers the knowledge of our industry.”

She suggests highlighting the industry’s great business leaders by having them do public speaking to business students. “We have a lot of great talent, entrepreneurial spirit and great success stories in our industry,” she says.

Tarnoff suggests using an “opportunity showcase” to educate future graduates on the industry as a whole as well as from your company’s unique perspective. “Show where an entry level candidate could start and their five-year plan…I think the opportunity would be quite impressive.”

Activity in non-industry associations and award programs is another way to get the word out about the security industry, she notes. Finally, Tarnoff says social marketing through social media is the way to speak to the younger generation. “We use tools such as using Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter [and] have been increasingly using social media to help recruit college grads.”

With that, meet the Class of 2011. It should be noted too, that we in no way consider this a definitive “top 20” list of young professionals in the security industry. There are hundreds of qualified people who could be on this list. We do believe our lists of 20 are good representative samples of the kinds of talented young people who are working in our industry today. We expect you’ll be as impressed as we were, and hope you enjoy reading a little bit about them.

Also, following are the class rosters for 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011