The complexity of directing security and risk management strategies today requires a re-evaluation of how security careers are managed. Clear, ladder-like progression used to be the norm, however the profession has expanded. These changes cause people who are seeking to advance their careers to question how they can make themselves more attractive to potential employers.
It is not uncommon to find yourself at the point of wondering what you can do to make yourself more attractive to employers. I often hear this concern during more broad conversations with people who aspire to become the head of an organization’s global security program. It is at this point when reconsidering the measurement of career success comes into play.
In previous columns, I have mapped a wide variety of the key areas within organizations that require the development of sophisticated response together with mitigation programs often found under the accountabilities of a security program. These are built under a single executive in some cases and involve the convergence of programs such as (but not limited to) EH&S, Cybersecurity, Investigations, Physical, Intelligence, Brand Protection, Business Continuity, Resiliency, Supply Chain, Intellectual Property, Compliance and Financial Asset Protection.
While this may be an effective structure in some organizations, it is more likely you will find the combinations of responsibilities for these areas spread across functions. They may even be matrixed throughout divisions, business units, affiliates and subsidiaries. As you look at either model, remember it is highly probable that events, business conditions and/or leadership will ensure change and realignment that will directly impact you.
To position yourself for career sustainability and growth, you should consider a horizontal movement strategy within your existing organization, working within a risk-related program area that may or may not be in the organization of your current function. You also may want to consider shifting to a completely different functional area. This will allow for continuous growth through the expansion of your professional knowledge, competencies and internal relationships. It provides exposure to almost every aspect of your organization’s activities.
I often see security professionals who feel trapped and siloed because there are no promotional opportunities with the function in which they currently work. They feel they must leave the organization to take the bigger job to advance their career. However, once there, they eventually find themselves in a similar situation.
If you do wish to leave your job, consider the same horizontal strategy. You may be surprised to find an area you have a passion for. Growth and success is not always about the next rung of the ladder or a more impressive title. Positioning yourself for marketability in today’s environment makes it imperative that you bring a diverse range of experiences and skills to the table. This will ultimately provide you with a wider range of options in your career choices.