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Women in Security: Lynn De Vries

Lynn De Vries and Anna Villani from ASIS

Women in Security is the new S News column, in collaboration with ASIS Italy Chapter and WIS Liason ASIS Italy, which explores the issues of Security Management, thanks to a series of interviews addressed to professionals who stand out in the current panorama of the industry .

The idea arose together with Anna Villani, who says: “I am extremely happy to announce the birth, thanks to the collaboration with S News, of a space dedicated to the role and leadership of the Security Manager also seen from a female perspective. We will have the pleasure and honor of inviting illustrious colleagues from important companies and organizational contexts both in Italy and abroad, who will have the opportunity to share their experience as security professionals into the community with a technical-scientific slant. aimed at enhancing the role and its growth for the benefit of the entire collectivity. The first guest of the column is Lynn de Vries, Security & Privacy Professional and Partner ofDutchRisk, an established international company operating in the consulting, crisis management and training fields. Welcome Lynn!”

Below you can find the interview with Lynn De Vries, ASIS International member of the steering committee for Women in Security.

Mrs. De Vries, how did you get passionate and why did you decide to engage in the field of Security?
Actually, I rolled into security by coincidence. I joined a large multinational security provider some 20 years ago. Since I started my career off as an accountant, I had a number of different financial management functions within this organization. Over the years, I got more and more involved into the operational management side of security and eventually found that to be much more appealing than “number crunching”. So, when the opportunity to step into an operational security management role emerged, I did not have to think twice.

What are the hot topics that you are facing today within the security structure of your company?
Perhaps my view is a bit contaminated since my primary focus lies more on the subjects of privacy and related information security risks and controls, but I honestly think this is where the big challenges for security professionals are and certainly will be in the future. The global pandemic forced us to become an even more online society than before. A lot can be done from the comfort of our homes, technologies like the Internet of Things are making our lives a lot easier and social media help in remaining in contact with others across the globe. This not only brings a lot of opportunities for organizations, but at the same time brings a lot of opportunities for malicious actors since the threat landscape is getting so much bigger. So, we not only need to focus on the visible and known information risks, but also to take a more holistic approach in a challenging environment where many organizational assets, such as information, are out of our own control. This means that a proper due diligence is becoming even more crucial than before and the importance and value of awareness increasing.

In addition to knowledge and skills, what are the soft skills that contribute the most to the achievements in your role?
I am an advocate for diversity – not only from a gender perspective, but diversity in the way that we think and act. And that enhances the soft skills that are very valuable in our sector. It goes without saying that certifications play an important role and obviously this should be complemented by continuous training and ensuring one remains informed about the trends and developments (both from the risks side and on possible mitigation measures) in an ever-changing threat landscape. But we cannot rely on knowledge and experience alone, the soft skills are what make a good security professional even better. Being able to have empathy and show compassion, the ability to adapt quickly and understanding why people act the way they do are critical in today’s security environment.

What, in your opinion, are the supports that could contribute to improve the performances of the role, also from a corporate welfare perspective?
I think the main thing is flexibility in terms of work location, work hours and setting one’s own priorities. The focus should not only be on “working moms” but also on working dads or others in a caretaking capacity, e.g. care for an elderly or a sick family member. Allowing employees to balance business- and personal obligations, leads to happier employees, loyalty, more productivity and less disruption to the business.

In your opinion, how do you see the future of this profession also from a female point of view and what advice do you feel you can give to future security managers who wish to pursue this career?
The security profession has evolved a lot over the last couple of years – from an all-male, ex-military/law enforcement dominated sector to a more diverse sector. This is also evident in the holistic approach in security management, for instance in an enterprise security risk management strategy. However, we are not quite there yet and need a bigger inflow of young professionals to ensure we keep the momentum going. And there are a lot of regions where diversity is nonexistent in our profession – often not due to the sector not wanting to adapt, but due to the fact that some still perceive security as a “macho” profession or simply because the opportunities do not exist. My advice to anybody considering a career as security manager is: go for it! Security management is not a dusty, boring field of work, but very dynamic, full of challenges and giving a lot of fulfilment. Or better said: never a dull moment.

Lynn de Vries
Lynn is a security and privacy professional, advising and supporting organizations to balance their risks with their security ambition. This includes risk management, privacy and security policies and procedures, crisis management, and training – from employee awareness, to preparation classes, to CPP.  Thanks to her work experience, a degree in accountancy and several security and privacy certifications, she is able to combine security management with business management skills to achieve results in both disciplines. She has more than twenty years’ experience in security and privacy, including various operational management roles in G4S, as advisor and trainer of DutchRisk clients and as privacy officer in the healthcare sector. Lynn has shared her knowledge and experience through presentations at various international conferences and is an active volunteer in ASIS International, where she currently is a member of the steering committee for Women in Security.

Anna Villani
Certified Security Manager UNI 10459: 2017 and WIS Liason – Woman in Security – of ASIS Chapter Italy, with more than twenty years of experience in the world of physical and integrated security. Villani is a member of the IAHSS, International Association for Healthcare Security & Safety and of the Security Commission of CFPA-Europe, Confederation of European associations of Fire Prevention, Security & Natural Hazards, President of APC Security & Safety of AIAS Sicurezza and Security Manager at ReS On Network – Intelligence and Global Defence Ltd.

In the picture: Lynn De Vries and Anna Villani.

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