The experience of security

When it comes to her career, security professional Claire Campbell says her path certainly didn’t take the typical linear projection. Throughout her career in the U.S. Federal government, Campbell served as a Counterterrorism Analyst at Department of Defense (DoD), Counterdrug Analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and Transnational Threats Team Lead at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). While some in the security industry choose to stick to a federal career start-to-finish, after 10 years Campbell decided to make the leap to the private sector.

“All I can say is that my career path has been a product of me saying ‘yes’ to opportunities that I didn't initially think were in my plan,” Campbell says. “It's been the best choice to explore those unexpected events or offers as they arise because they've all materialized into something incredibly fulfilling and challenging in a good way.”

After transitioning from her government career, Campbell took on the role of Senior Security Intelligence Analyst at Cargill, then Principal Security Intelligence Analyst at Mayo Clinic, until her most recent role as Chief Security Officer at London-based financial services company Moneycorp.

As the company’s first CSO, Campbell has been excited for the opportunity to build a security program from the ground up.

“What I'm fortunate to be able to do is to use all of this cutting-edge technology and tradecraft that's emerged in the last 10 years – AI, machine learning, real-time incident alerting - and really apply it in the best way possible for the company,” she says. “I'm really excited to take all of that and everything available to us to really start from scratch with what I hope is going to become a center of excellence for private sector security. Because I'm traditionally an intelligence professional, and not an operations or physical security professional, our focus is to use an intelligence-driven decision making process to support our business development and risk mitigation practices, and use the data and analytics and the tradecraft to help determine where we should apply our assets and our resources for our duty of care.”

A people person

A key part of Campbell’s personality and her success in the security industry has been her interest in others and her willingness to help where she can.

We all have the same values and goals to support each other, to make the world a safer place and because we enjoy the challenge of trying to keep our friends, colleagues, and clients as safe as possible.”

“I once had a very honored and respected colleague say, ‘you don't meet Claire, you experience her’,” Campbell recalls with a laugh. “And I thought, ‘Is that a compliment?’ which he replied that it was the highest compliment he can pay anyone and I thought, ‘Oh, thank goodness!’.

“I'm always willing to help out a colleague, if requested for no quid pro quo, or expected favor in return,” Campbell continues. “I believe it is our duty of care and we as a community do better when we all help each other."

Campbell gives a lot of credit for her career development and trajectory to the mentors who have provided guidance throughout her career. Because of this, helping others within the security industry is one of her passions.

Campbell believes mentorship is an incredibly important part of the security industry. In addition to her role at Moneycorp, Campbell is also a Career Coach at the National Security Career and Leadership Institute where, for the last three years, she’s specialized in helping others gain insight into government and private sector security and intelligence roles by working with them on career search strategies, resume and cover letter preparation and interview skills.

“If people in the more senior levels aren't taking the time to mentor they should, because we learn just as much by being mentors, as our mentees do in the process,” she says. “The most important parts of mentorship are empathy, honesty, understanding why someone needs help, and just giving encouragement that it is possible.”

Adapt and overcome

When offering advice to others looking to get into the security field, Campbell says tenacity, resilience and curiosity are huge traits for a long, successful career within the industry.

“My favorite motto — and anyone who works with me has heard me proclaim this on a hard day — ‘adapt and overcome’,” Campbell says. “You have to be curious, because if you think you know everything, you're not going to get very far either in your job search, interviews, or in your career.”

Having a strong support network is another part of an effective security career Campbell adds.

“I think the reason I'm in the role I'm in now and I've had the career I've had is because I've garnered a really wonderful network of friends and colleagues in this field,” she says. “We all have the same values and goals to support each other, to make the world a safer place and because we enjoy the challenge of trying to keep our friends, colleagues, and clients as safe as possible.”