Katherine Collins: Boots on the Ground
When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017, Katherine Collins knew exactly what she and the team were going to do. She was less than two months into her role as Global Manager of Corporate Security for Waters Corporation, but has been in corporate security for more than 30 years, handling situations such as natural disasters.
“One of our sites was heavily damaged [due to the hurricane] and we could no longer work in the building,” Collins explains. “But our first priority was duty of care to our employees. I told my director that we needed boots on the ground to find our employees and conduct a wellness check, then help the people with their immediate needs. We brought in a third-party company to help us make contact with all of our employees to make sure that they were physically okay. Then we put together a plan to bring in food and water and other essential supplies such as generators and cook stoves, and anything else that they needed, because if we didn’t take care of our employees there’s no way that we could build back our business in that region. It was amazing because within the first week and a half that we were addressing their needs, the senior manager at the Puerto Rico site wanted us to help stabilize their situation so that they could respond to our customers who needed to keep providing prescription medicines for the world. We had to assure our employees of food, water and shelter so that they could be empowered to assist our customers. Failure to accomplish this could have cost lives. And that’s what’s great about Waters Corporation – they really care about their people, their customers and the world in general.”
Waters Corporation is a specialty measurement company that designs, manufacturers and markets liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry and thermal analysis technologies to enable scientists in the life, materials and food sciences. The company has approximately 7,000 employees worldwide and operates directly in 31 countries, including 15 manufacturing facilities, and with products available in more than 100 countries.
As Waters Corporation’s first corporate security executive, Collins has the unique opportunity to shape a security program from the ground up. “I was charged with developing a Global Security Operation Center at our headquarters and a Global Security Program to help us to centralize the security function across the world,” she says. “In our U.S. operations, so far, we’ve implemented a new visitor management system, upgraded our security cameras from analog to IP and installed a new card access program that will support us globally. We’re also ensuring compliance with C-TPAT Tier 2 validation to protect our products from the moment that they leave the site until they arrive at their destinations. We also have to protect our products inside the walls at our sites. So I’m currently in the process of conducting risk assessments at our high-value, high-risk sites.”
Duty of care is one way that Collins shows value, as evidenced by the assistance offered to Hurricane Maria victims. “We want to reduce risk to employees,” she explains. “So we employ Daily Intelligence Reports and other methods. Our philosophy is that our duty of care to you begins when you leave your house and you’re on your way to work, whether it’s at Global Headquarters or at Logan Airport to catch a flight for Waters business to a remote site or a customer. No matter where you are in the world, when you are doing Waters business, you’re still our responsibility. Until you get back home, we want to make sure that you have the best of care available to you; that you have everything you need no matter what problem arises, where you are when it arises, or what risk you encounter.”
Another initiative that Collins has promoted at Waters Corporation is a Violent Intruder Training Program at corporate headquarters to train all 1,500 employees on violent intruder tactics. The response has been positive, with other corporate sites now asking for the training. “The word is getting out,” she notes. “Milford has certain security services and technologies that can be implemented anywhere, and I want to put that best practice into other sites worldwide. And when it comes to violent intruders, whether you are at work, home or out in public, the best defense is education that goes with you when you leave the classroom. Many employees are embracing it. Some don’t like it because they say it’s scary. And I tell them that it’s okay to be scared, it’s natural. But at least have the knowledge from the training so that you can keep yourself safe.”
Enterprise security is an ever changing security landscape, and Collins embraces it. “One event can change your entire program,” she says. “That’s all it takes. So I am constantly monitoring and keeping up with events that are happening throughout the world and having the controls in place to mitigate and avoid disruption to business, and lower risk. I’m always on the lookout for new and better technology to make our work environment safer. I’m a very proactive person. However, our tendency in business is to be reactive, so I need to show that being proactive is a better approach.”
Collins admits that she doesn’t have a lot of free time, but she’s okay with it. “To me, the deepest desire in human nature is the need to feel appreciated. I feel like I’m making a difference here. And as long as I’m making a difference and delivering benefit, then I’ll keep going.” When she does get time off, she enjoys reading and spending time with her husband and family at their lake house.
- Duty of Care
- Converged Approach to Physical and Data Security
- Centralized Security Worldwide