SJA Exclusive: Security in the Americas – Canada

Vancouver, Canada skyline

Share this content


Matthew Porcelli, CPP speaks with ASIS member Gigi Agassini about the challenges facing the security industry.

What are the most pressing security challenges you are facing in your region?

Well, it’s certainly been an interesting journey moving to Canada and continuing my career in the security industry here.

Over my 16 years of experience, I’ve seen the landscape evolve significantly, but some challenges remain constant while new ones emerge.

In my current role as a security consultant, there are several pressing security challenges I’ve identified in the Canadian region:

  • Cybersecurity threats: with the increasing reliance on digital technologies and the interconnected nature of systems, cybersecurity threats have become more sophisticated and pervasive. Organizations need to constantly adapt and strengthen their defenses against cyber-attacks, ensuring the protection of sensitive data and critical infrastructure
  • Data protection and privacy: Canada has stringent regulations like the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) that require organizations to handle personal data with care. Balancing the need for data-driven insights with privacy concerns is an ongoing challenge, especially with the rise of big data and analytics
  • Supply chain security: given my experience with distributors and manufacturers, I’m acutely aware of the challenges related to securing supply chains. Ensuring the integrity of products and components as they move through various stages of the supply chain is crucial to preventing counterfeit or compromised products from entering the market, but also applies to any industry where unfortunately we’ve seen a lack policies and process to ensure the whole chain
  • Physical security: while digital threats are prominent, physical security remains essential, especially in sectors such as critical infrastructure, transportation and healthcare. Designing and implementing effective access control, surveillance and emergency response plans is vital to safeguarding people and assets
  • Compliance and regulations: navigating the complex landscape of regulations, standards and compliance requirements can be overwhelming. Staying up-to-date with changes and helping organizations align their security practices with various industry-specific regulations is a continuous challenge
  • Talent shortage: the shortage of skilled professionals in the security industry is a common concern. Finding and retaining individuals with a solid understanding of security, both physical and digital, is becoming increasingly competitive
  • Emerging technologies: as technology continues to advance, the integration of AI, IoT devices and automation offers exciting possibilities, but it also introduces new security vulnerabilities that need to be addressed proactively
  • Incident response and recovery: no matter how robust your security measures are, incidents can still occur. Having a well-defined incident response plan and the ability to effectively recover from breaches or disruptions is essential to minimize the impact on operations

Drawing from my experience across different facets of the security industry, I find that taking a holistic approach that combines expertise in physical security, cybersecurity, compliance and risk management is crucial for addressing these challenges.

As a consultant, I work closely with organizations to tailor solutions that align with their unique needs and the dynamic security landscape.

Can you describe your journey in the world of security?

My journey in the world of security has been both fulfilling and enlightening.

I started my career knowing nothing about security but being a technology lover, it was something that helped me to understand the physical world, so I was drawn to the idea of safeguarding systems, data and people.

Little did I know that this passion would lead me down a path of diverse experiences and continuous learning.

I began my journey in the security industry with a role in a distribution company, where I gained hands-on experience with a wide range of security products, from cameras to access control systems.

This foundation provided me with a practical understanding of the tools and technologies that form the backbone of physical security.

I then transitioned to a role in a systems integrator company with very complex and critical infrastructure projects. As the Operation and Sales Director leading a solid team that delivered several great projects, I was presented with a new exiting opportunity with a leading camera manufacturing company.

This move allowed me to delve deeper into the intricacies of camera technology, understanding how innovations like high-resolution imaging and intelligent analytics were shaping the industry.

This experience was pivotal in helping me see security as not just about hardware, but also about the intelligent integration of technology.

As the industry continued to evolve and after the different roles I had – which included the responsibility of opening new markets, developing and putting into place strategies to expand markets, industries and leading complex projects from the beginning to the end – I found myself increasingly intrigued by the intersection of security and software.

I joined a company specializing in security software solutions, where I learned about the critical role that software plays in managing and analyzing security data.

This phase of my journey expanded my knowledge into areas like data protection, privacy and cybersecurity, as software solutions became integral to managing risks and compliance.

I pushed myself to continuously learn by taking different diplomas and certifications in great institutions and universities, to expand my understanding of the challenges in the digital world.

Recently, I’ve taken on the role of a security consultant, leveraging my accumulated expertise to guide organizations through the complex landscape of security challenges.

This step felt like a natural progression, as I have gained insights from distributors, manufacturers and software providers, enabling me to offer holistic solutions that consider both physical and digital security aspects.

My journey has been marked by a commitment to continuous education and professional development related to ESRM, physical security, cybersecurity, privacy, data protection and compliance, ensuring that my knowledge remains current and relevant.

I’ve pursued certifications such as Certified Protection Professional (CPP) by ASIS International and have a Mexican certification in cybersecurity and data protection from the Mexican Academy of IT Law which, I must admit, was a big challenge.

This dedication to staying informed has been crucial in adapting to the rapid changes and emerging threats within the security industry.

Throughout my journey, I’ve had the privilege of working with diverse teams and collaborating with professionals from various backgrounds.

This has enriched my perspective and reinforced the importance of interdisciplinary approaches to security challenges.

Looking ahead, I’m excited to continue contributing to the field of security through consulting, education and staying at the forefront of emerging trends.

My journey has been shaped by a passion for protecting what matters most and I’m eager to see how the industry will evolve as new technologies and challenges arise.

Tell us about your journey within ASIS and how it has helped you in your career?

My involvement with ASIS International began in 2011 and it has truly been a transformative experience.

ASIS, as a global organization dedicated to security management, has provided me with a platform to connect with fellow professionals, exchange ideas and access valuable resources that have significantly enriched my career.

Early on, attending ASIS chapter meetings and conferences exposed me to a diverse community of security practitioners.

The networking opportunities were invaluable, as I had the chance to learn from seasoned experts, share my experiences and engage in discussions about the latest trends and best practices.

This exposure to different perspectives helped me broaden my horizons and deepen my understanding of the multifaceted security landscape.

One of the key benefits of being a part of ASIS is the access to educational resources.

The organization offers a wide range of webinars, workshops and certifications that have allowed me to continuously enhance my skills and stay up-to-date with industry developments.

Obtaining my CPP certification through ASIS has not only boosted my confidence but has also enhanced my credibility as a consultant.

Another highlight of my ASIS journey has been the involvement in various committees and working groups.

These opportunities have enabled me to collaborate with fellow professionals on research projects, whitepapers and industry guidelines.

Contributing to these initiatives has not only allowed me to give back to the community but has also provided me with a platform to share my expertise and insights on topics I’m deeply passionate about, such as data protection and privacy in the security context.

Through ASIS, I’ve had the privilege of attending international conferences and being a speaker in many of them, where I’ve been exposed to a global perspective on security challenges and solutions.

The exposure to different cultural approaches to security has been eye-opening and has enriched my ability to provide holistic advice to clients, especially given my recent move to Canada where ASIS leaders have been so welcoming.

The same goes for the incredible folks in the US who I’ve had the opportunity to meet at those incredible international conferences, growing my network but most importantly, providing opportunities to learn and for collaboration.

ASIS has played a pivotal role in helping me navigate the evolving security landscape including within Canada, providing me with the tools, connections and knowledge to excel in my career.

It has given me a sense of belonging to a community of like-minded professionals who are committed to advancing the field of security.

As I continue my journey as a consultant, I remain deeply grateful for the continuous support and learning opportunities that ASIS has offered me over the years.

You can connect with Matthew on LinkedIn here.

To read the previous piece about ASIS International – Toronto, click here.

Receive the latest breaking news straight to your inbox