Leading Security at 1,700 Feet
How does Keith Kambic manage security for the Willis Tower, the tallest building in Chicago?
Next month, Chicago will host the ASIS Seminar and Exhibits, September 24-26, at McCormick Place. When attendees have free time, they might want to visit the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), which stands tall above the Chicago skyline and is one of the most famous landmarks for the city. Keith L. Kambic, CPP, is Senior Director of Security & Life Safety Services for U.S. Equities Asset Management, LLC, which manages the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), among other properties in Chicago.
How did your career in security begin? Why did you decide upon this profession?
I began my career in the security profession shortly after graduating from Illinois State University with a major in criminal justice. At that time, the field of private security was beginning to attract young professionals and seemed to offer significant promise for future growth. I choose the criminal justice field because after receiving my two year degree in medical technology, I realized that chemistry was far too difficult.
What are the most significant challenges faced by senior security executives today?
Senior security executives face significant challenges in many aspects of their position today – from business to HR. Budgets continue to be constrained so everyone is challenged to do more with less. The costs associated with litigation are rising and having an impact across the organization. Workplace violence is a primary concern for many, and we all work to educate and prepare key stakeholders within our facilities to identify and mitigate the threat before an incident occurs. Social media as a broad-reaching communication channel presents quite a challenge for security practitioners. It can be a great help or a great hindrance depending on the situation. Employee retention is also a concern from both a business and an HR perspective.
What can security professionals expect to see at the ASIS Seminar and Exhibits this year and what is the ROI for attending?
I must begin with – #1, THE GREATEST CITY IN THE USA! If they have not traveled the Midwest and visited the city of Chicago, I think a lot of people will be surprised how beautiful and inviting this world-class city has become. In terms of ASIS 2013, security professionals can expect to see cutting-edge technology on the expansive exhibit floor and relevant and interesting educational sessions. There will be invaluable networking opportunities throughout the week that will lead to partnerships that extend beyond the walls of McCormick Place and the city of Chicago. Attendees will recognize ROI in many ways – from identifying new technology that has a direct impact on their budget, to learning new information in the educational sessions that can be applied in a real world scenario, to the networking that allows for benchmarking and idea exchange.
What qualities do you have that you believe make you a leader?
I firmly believe my compassion and empathy for others makes me a good leader. I consider my staff to be a family. As such, we care for and respect one another at all levels within the organization. Many years ago, I learned you get more bees with honey than vinegar. The ability to actively listen to your peers and, most importantly, your subordinates is essential for me. I recognize that my success is measured by my employees’ success; conversely their failure is my failure. If at all possible, I always strive to promote from within. Finally, I believe work/life balance is critical to the organization’s success.
What keeps you up at night?
Far and away, workplace violence is in the forefront of my mind each day as I arrive greeting my staff, tenants and guests, and in the evening as I leave for my home. It has become so prevalent in today’s society. I continually ask myself if I have trained my staff well enough. Do they have the knowledge and experience to properly to respond to such an incident? Have we done enough to educate the tenants? And last, how will the recent defeat of hand gun legislation in Illinois affect future incidents?
What do you like to do in your free time?
I thoroughly enjoy spending my free time outdoors, most especially during the glorious summer that we experience in the Midwest. Most weekends, I can be found playing golf, boating or scuba diving.
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