Mary Fleury’s professional story is a story about longevity. She’s been with Ford Motor Company for over 30 years and that time has allowed her to absorb information that has helped her throughout her tenure — to understand how other departments, divisions and operations work; be able to benchmark and learn from peers in the industry; and also to learn from and watch what’s been done before.
Undoubtedly her untraditional route to security is what has given her a diverse perspective, but also the agile security posture of embracing rather than resisting rapid change within the security space. In her role now as Director of Global Security, Fleury is responsible for security operations, investigations, executive protection, business continuity, security technology and new product security at the company’s facilities and manufacturing sites.
But in order to understand how Fleury got to where she is in her career, it’s helpful to take a look at her journey. She started out at Ford Motor Company in IT. At one point, the security organization within the company was looking for a person to lead business continuity and crisis management, a role Fleury felt very passionate about. She jumped at the chance, putting her “officially in security since 2005,” she says.
“Over the course of time, I’ve had the opportunity to hold a number of positions in the organization in addition to business continuity and crisis management,” Fleury shares. She has been responsible for executive protection, investigations, security operations, including third-party security management, as well as leading the security technology group, which deals with access control, the global security operations center (GSOC), video surveillance, etc.
Three years ago, when Fleury took on the role of Interim Director of Global Security at Ford Motor Company and then later permanent Director (and the first woman at the company to lead the security organization), she started transitioning the company’s security posture into a proactive model with adaptability and efficiency as key focuses. The organic path of both Fleury’s career and Ford Motor Company’s security program stemmed from initiatives and support spawned by the company’s leadership, along with extensive benchmarking, networking and leadership experience on Fleury’s part.
During her tenure, the security organization has gone through a redesign and realignment, establishing a regional security model with a global mindset. One of the initiatives Fleury started in an effort to move toward her goal of a proactive security posture is a threat intelligence group.
“In the past, we haven’t necessarily had the opportunity to be proactive and that was really important because it ties into a lot of things, not only giving us that intelligence to know what’s going on, but to give us that forward-thinking mindset,” she says. The threat intelligence focus allows the security organization to filter through the noise and focus on risk mitigation in a proactive way with the company as its primary focus.
Working in executive protection earlier in her career and traveling the globe allowed Fleury to observe, network and benchmark with other security professionals at other organizations to understand their security models, roles and responsibilities. “That really allowed me to see how other security organizations are structured and it allowed me to think about where our opportunities are and where I could focus on,” she says. Even now, Fleury is a champion for benchmarking and networking with other security leaders and isn’t shy in reaching out to other leaders to be a sounding board or help solve a problem.
Another major initiative that Fleury believes is critical for her organization as well as security leaders across all sectors, is a focus on technology. At Ford, the security team utilized existing access control, badging and other data to implement contact-tracing efforts during COVID-19, and the team is also exploring other technology for the future including facial recognition for credentialing, drones, mobile credentials and body cams, for example.
“When I think about the future of Ford and how it is centered around data and information, security itself is no different in the amount of data and emerging technology we are surrounded with. The question is how do we cut through the noise to see how technology impacts our facilities and our people and how do we leverage technology to position our organization to succeed,” she says. “Technology allows us to work better, smarter and more efficiently as we modernize and position ourselves for the future.”
In addition to technology and process initiatives, Fleury has made a deliberate effort to increase diversity and inclusivity within the security organization at Ford, which goes along with the company’s overall initiatives regarding inclusion, equity and diversity. Her varied professional experience working in different cross-functional assignments within security has not only aided Fleury in her career and given her a unique perspective that only first-hand experience could provide, but it has also given her the knowledge that varied backgrounds, thoughts, and professional experiences increase the innovation of a company and set them up to be more agile, more adaptable and, ultimately, more successful.
“As security professionals we need to service our people, our customers and our employees,” Fleury says. “It’s so important that we bring on different talents and to make sure that we look for different experiences, backgrounds, perspectives and knowledge as we continue to build our security team with a proactive mindset.”