Growing up, Nicole Schmitt, Director of Asset Protection at Wireless Vision, wanted to be the next Katie Couric — an intelligent woman whom people found trustworthy and invited into their homes every day.

She had a passion for the news but then experienced a loss that made her reevaluate a career in journalism. “I knew I still had this fire inside me to ask questions, seek truth, and be a person folks can depend on during tumultuous times,” she says. After reflecting, she remembered growing up with a pride for her father, a police officer. Inspired by him, she decided to study criminal justice, fully expecting to pursue a career in law enforcement.

Then, a professor pulled her aside and informed her about a role in Nordstrom’s loss prevention (LP) department. The opportunity to work for an organization that has such a wide reach as Nordstrom was something she couldn’t pass up. “It made sense,” she says.

Nordstrom’s loss prevention program was a well-built program supported by a talented group of security leaders, which really inspired Schmitt. After nearly a decade at Nordstrom, she became an expert in LP and asset protection, from identifying, investigating and tracking the closure of all potential incidents to maintaining store safety and security, developing and facilitating LP, fraud prevention, and emergency response training.

There, she also found her passion for making a positive impact on people’s lives and in training and developing teams on emergency response. “It’s really about helping make people’s lives better,” she says.

In 2016, Schmitt moved to Wireless Vision, T-Mobile’s largest third-party retailer. She has been instrumental in helping Wireless Vision achieve milestones and boost asset protection and emergency preparedness. Now, as Director of Asset Protection, Schmitt currently leads all asset protection and crisis management within Wireless Vision’s 700-plus retail locations in 28 states and the District of Columbia.

One of Schmitt’s biggest accomplishments at Wireless Vision thus far has been identifying a proactive fraud prevention program. Schmitt and her team partnered with corporate peers to be better informed about different fraud metrics. After dissecting the information, she incorporated additional indicators of potential fraud or loss and set thresholds for each of those metrics.

Based on the metrics, Schmitt and her team created a ranking system to determine high-risk locations, institute action plans for teams in stores and the field leaders, and provide consistent education for store employees on how to prevent fraud and best practices. “We allow the data to truly be our driver, and we have seen tremendous improvements and reductions in losses,” says Schmitt. The program has resulted in millions of dollars in savings year over year, both internally and externally.

When establishing a loss prevention program, she believes one of the most important aspects for continued success is to never remain static. In her fraud prevention program, she continues to make adjustments to the metrics and thresholds. “Some of those thresholds are dynamic to ensure we’re staying in tune with business trends, improving employee and customer experience, and helping to reduce losses,” she says.

For Schmitt, people’s safety is another area that she’s passionate about, which includes creating an environment where the employees are safe to reach their fullest potential, and also an environment where customers are safe to enjoy their shopping experience. To this end, Schmitt has built Wireless Vision’s crisis management program from the ground up.

To build the company’s crisis management program, Schmitt first focused on creating store emergency procedures. Schmitt and her team developed an all-encompassing guide with 16 different emergency incident scenarios that employees may encounter, such as robberies, fires or severe weather. The guide includes a series of steps store employees should take during a critical event to ensure safety and minimize the impact on critical operations.

In addition, Schmitt has instituted multiple emergency preparedness months throughout the year to help ensure Wireless Vision teams are prepared to respond to any incident. Emergency scenarios, evacuation drills, lockdown drills, active shooter drills and severe weather drills are conducted throughout the year. The focus is on education as a means of preparation and prevention. “We want to be at the forefront of security and safety trends. We can’t remain static,” she says.

Outside of Wireless Vision, Schmitt belongs to Global Women in Security — an intimate group of international female professionals who gather monthly to discuss trends in asset protection, share insight into solutions and cultivate relationships with one another. “It’s inspiring to be in the company of talented and creative women. We need to support and uplift one another,“ she says. “This is important for women. Stepping into our power and bringing our whole selves to the table is not only inspiring for other women, but to others within the organization.”

To continue broadening and leading within the security industry, she is an active member of the ASIS Detroit Chapter and other security-focused organizations, and regularly attends conferences, such as the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) Conference.