Sharon Shaw: 'Nothing can keep you from being successful'
LONGMONT, Colo.—Sharon Shaw is a relative newcomer to security, having made the jump from real estate five years ago. But instead of being intimidated in an industry long dominated by men, she has succeeded on the strength of her work ethic and a principle that transcends gender.
“I’ve never identified with the struggle, I’ve just identified with the opportunity,” said Shaw, president of Integrator Support LLC, based here. “There’s nothing that can keep you from being successful. I think that would be the same for anybody, male or female.”
Shaw was working as an office manager at Remax Horizons when the real estate bubble burst in 2007. She said she hadn’t established a large enough base there to weather the storm, so she decided to look elsewhere for work. That led her to the PSA Security Network.
“I started off at PSA as a temp in their pricing department and then found out that Bill Bozeman, the CEO, was looking for an assistant,” Shaw said. “I applied for the position and got it. Over time, each year or so, I assumed new responsibilities and just kind of grew through the PSA organization.”
Shaw rose to become the director of education for PSA. She joined Integrator Support in June to pursue the managed security services business, “because it has become rather evident that this is where [security] is going,” she said. “Bill Bozeman is the chairman, so I still get to work for him. It’s just a different role and we’re pursuing sort of a different goal through this angle.”
Shaw said there could be more opportunities for women in security as the baby boomers who are the CEOs and owners of companies start passing the leadership baton.
“There’s a generation shift that’s beginning to take place,” she said. “I think that shift incorporates a younger generational acceptance of women, but it’s probably still kind of early.”
One advantage for women in security is that it’s often easier for people to remember them, Shaw said, simply because there are so many more men than women in the industry. But it can be harder for a woman to prove herself and earn credibility when it comes to “talking shop,” she said.
“The challenge that is still there is that whenever you are selling something in this business, there’s a technical [component] that has to work,” she said. “You just can’t sell promises; it has to add up, the integration has to be there. You have to know enough about the technology to be able to go out and really do this. It can be learned—it’s not that difficult.”
What can be difficult, said Shaw, the mother of two, is balancing home life with the demands of a job that goes beyond 9-to-5. But that hasn’t held her back, and she encouraged other women to consider a similar path in security.
“Family is always first, of course, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have a career,” she said. “Some people may not strive to move up the ladder because they don’t know you can do both. And you can.”