SJA Exclusive: Security in the Americas – Toronto

Toronto - security in the Americas

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Matthew Porcelli, CPP speaks with Michael Brzozowski, PSP, CPP, CISSP from the ASIS International – Toronto Chapter about the pressures being felt in the security industry.

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

The Canadian security landscape currently faces two significant issues that are impacting the industry: insider threats and the shortage of frontline security resources.

Both of these challenges have been exacerbated by labor shortages, fierce competition for skilled professionals and general dissatisfaction stemming from return to office mandates and layoffs.

Insider threats: both malicious and non-malicious insider threats committed by current or former employees, third parties etc., pose a considerable risk to organizations.

With the pressure to keep operations running smoothly, many organizations have put a specific focus on mitigating threats from within the organization by shifting their hiring practices, as well as increasing training and awareness, ultimately evolving traditional security practices.

Frontline security resource shortage: like many other regions across the globe, our security landscape is further strained by a shortage of frontline security resources. Despite numerous job openings, the public perception of being a security officer deters potential candidates.

These challenges of course are not new, but the pandemic has magnified the problem. The ongoing understaffing exacerbates the strain on existing security personnel and addressing this will require a collective effort from both public and private sectors to improve the perception and attractiveness of security jobs, offering competitive compensation and investing in comprehensive training programs.

Can you describe your journey in the world of security?

In the security industry, every career journey is unique and mine took an unexpected turn into the world of security management.

What started as a part-time job as a bank teller during college eventually led me on a path of diverse experiences and opportunities within the security industry.

As a college student, I never envisioned a career in security management. However, my time as a bank teller exposed me to the importance of safeguarding financial transactions and combating fraud. Upon graduation, an opportunity arose to work on anti-money laundering initiatives, which piqued my interest in security management.

This experience laid the foundation for my next opportunity at INTRIA, a currency management and payment processing company. There, I was introduced to high-risk industrial security and it captivated me, igniting a passion for the field.

My journey continued at Symcor, a data management company operating critical infrastructure-rated facilities and high-availability data centers.

Here, I played a crucial role in the maturation of physical security and security governance programs as part of a North American expansion project.

This experience challenged me to think strategically and over time, my role evolved to include managing enterprise security operations and ensuring compliance with contractual obligations involving third-party vendors and client-facing compliance activities.

This highlighted the importance of maintaining accountability and fostering strong relationships with stakeholders.

Presently, I have the privilege of managing physical security operations for one of Canada’s largest financial institutions where we are building a best-in-class security program.

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

My journey within ASIS has been a transformative experience that has shaped my career through professional development and volunteer leadership.

These aspects have played a monumental role in my growth, credibility and connections within the security community.

My commitment to professional development was ignited when a mentor encouraged me to pursue certifications within ASIS.

After successfully challenging the PSP exam in 2011, I delved into a pursuit of knowledge, obtaining the CPP certification in 2012. A pivotal moment in my professional development came in 2018 when I had the privilege of participating in the Wharton School Security Executive Development program.

The experience was unparalleled and enhanced my skills and expertise significantly. Additionally, being selected as the winner of the 2023 ASIS Foundation Executive Scholarship for the Effective Management for Security Professionals program at the IE Business School in Madrid has been a tremendous honor.

Professional development has not only bolstered my credibility in the security field but has also improved my job performance, increased my confidence and expanded my professional network.

My involvement as a volunteer leader within ASIS International is a source of immense pride. I have held various roles, from local positions in Toronto to global responsibilities as the Co-Chair of the Young Professionals Council and a member of the Professional Certification Board.

Notably, I am incredibly proud of the work I did alongside Angela Osborne as Co-Chairs of the Young Professionals Council, which resulted in the creation of the Associate Protection Professional (APP) certification.

Volunteer leadership has honed my leadership skills, problem-solving abilities, communication and budgeting expertise.

It has also expanded my professional network, allowing me to establish valuable connections and fruitful relationships throughout my career and taught me that there is true power in collaboration – the very reason why I am writing this, thanks the great relationship I have built with Matthew.

I encourage all security professionals to embark on their own ASIS journey, embracing the power of professional development and volunteer leadership to unlock new horizons, enrich their careers and give back to the security community.

You can connect with Matthew on LinkedIn here.

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

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