Editor, IFSEC Global

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James Moore is the Editor of IFSEC Global, the leading online publication for security and fire news in the industry. James writes, commissions, edits and produces content for IFSEC Global, including articles, breaking news stories and exclusive industry reports. He liaises and speaks with leading industry figures, vendors and associations to ensure security and fire professionals remain abreast of all the latest developments in the sector.
January 29, 2021

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IFSEC Interviews...

“A growing acknowledgement of the need for diverse perspectives” – ASIS’ Suzanne Collins on championing women in security

IFSEC Global sits down (remotely) with Suzanne Collins, who recently took over the role of ASIS International UK Director – Women in Security. We discussed the work being carried out by ASIS UK to champion women in the sector, how the industry has progressed in this field and what more can be done.

Suzanne Collins, ASIS International UK Director – Women in Security

As the newly elected Director of Women in Security for ASIS UK – Chapter 208, Suzanne is excited about and genuinely committed to promoting women in the security sector.  She is passionate about mentorship and development and is an advocate for diversity and equality within the field.

In her own words: “I feel truly honoured and thrilled to be working with such a dynamic group of professionals serving on the ASIS UK Board of Directors. Raising awareness and encouraging the engagement of women in the industry is only the beginning of creating a more inclusive culture in the sector. I am extremely excited to be a part of this very important initiative.


IFSEC Global (IG): Hi Suzanne. Firstly, congratulations on your new role as ASIS International UK Director – Women in Security!

Suzanne Collins (SC): Thank you so much. I am absolutely thrilled to be taking on this important role and to continue advancing the Women in Security (WiS) community. This is an extremely exciting time for ASIS UK, as we have just established a diverse new Board of Directors who bring strong leadership to the Chapter and are keen to support the membership communities and initiatives.


IG: Can you please tell us a little about your background and how you came to be involved in the role?

SC: I came into the security field almost by accident and it is my second career. With a background in change management and transformation at a large multi-national, I found myself looking for a new challenge. This led me to a position in our newly formed global security department nearly six years ago. It was a blank slate and we had the extraordinary opportunity to build the entire security programme from scratch. I have always held an interest in security and risk management, and in taking this position I found myself extremely fortunate to begin working with very strong and professional security practitioners. Our team has extensive experience in the sector and come from long careers in policing and military, and they quite literally took me under their wings. I felt very privileged to benefit from strong male leadership and mentoring while I completed my MSc International Security and Risk Management.

This is also around the time that I decided to join ASIS International. I had initially signed up simply for the opportunity to expand my network and to meet other security professionals, however I soon realised that there were many other benefits to the membership; especially in the area of Women in Security. I understood that I had been fortunate with my transition into the industry but that there are many other women who are not as supported. I decided to get more involved – to be a part of helping other women on their journey; ensuring they have a voice and a seat at the table – just like I did.


IG: Why did ASIS feel it was important for this to be a dedicated role?

SC: ASIS International is a strong proponent for equality and diversity in the security sector. ASIS offers specialised communities for Young Professionals, Diversity and Inclusion groups, Women in Security as well as many others. By supporting these communities ASIS is empowering its membership to share and create opportunities for learning, networking and leadership. The Women in Security (WiS) Director role is an extension of the chapter into the membership community and I feel very honoured to be a part of this incredible initiative.

“There appears to be a growing and welcomed acknowledgement that diverse perspectives are needed in order for the security industry to thrive and grow long into the future.”  

IG: What are the fundamental issues that need to be challenged?

SC: In the sector overall, it’s no secret that there is a gender gap; not only in women practitioners but in women holding security leadership roles. Security is still viewed as a male dominated field, but fortunately progress is slowly being made. The industry needs strong and visible female role models to encourage women into the security sector. Women need to be shown that there are opportunities for them and that they can have a successful career in the field – there is still a lot of work to do, but strides are being made in this area. There appears to be a growing and welcomed acknowledgement that diverse perspectives are needed in order for the security industry to thrive and grow long into the future.


IG: How has the industry changed over the years? Is it now more inclusive, or is there a lot of progress that still needs to be made?

SC: In the past, many security careers started with formal service in the police or military which then led to positions within different facets of the sector. Today, young women and men equally have access to educational programmes that can help them gain essential qualifications and the availability of such education stands to level the playing field for all who wish to have a career in security. Organisations such as ASIS further facilitate success by providing a platform for networking, thought leadership and mentorship; all of which will foster a more inclusive and diverse sector.   With these advancements, we will undoubtedly attract a more varied skillset and talent pool.


IG: How is ASIS working to change things and encourage more women into the industry?

SC: The UK WiS community works with its members to develop leadership skills and strengthen personal and business networks. ASIS shares industry best practice and thought leadership and promotes career opportunities for women in the sector. ASIS has a number of virtual events planned for this year (as well as in-person events for when we are able to) and is currently seeking both women and men who wish to get more involved by sharing their knowledge and expertise with the WiS Community.

If you are interested in learning more please reach out to me at [email protected]


IG: And finally… Why should those who aren’t already involved with ASIS, consider membership?

SC: Being a part of the ASIS communities allows for the opportunity to support and be a part of a strong network of like-minded security practitioners. Whether you are just starting out or are further along in your security career, you can get involved with local and International peers to gain insight into all sides of the sector. Your membership can help you to navigate your career, meet new people and develop your skillset to enable you to be successful in this exciting and evolving industry.

Just before this interview, IFSEC Global also got the chance to speak with Suzanne’s predecessor in the role, Elizabeth Lewis. Elizabeth provided us with some of the highlights from last year, which included:

  • Set up and successfully awarded the inaugural ASIS International UK Women in Security – Education Initiative. An annual initiative run in recognition of the Gender Pay Gap and the role education can play in helping to close it. Each year ASIS International UK will offer to cover the necessary costs associated with studying for and undertaking the ASIS Associated Protection Professional (APP) and Certified Protection Professional (CPP) certification, for one member, per certification. This year it was awarded to Nicola Thompson (Tesla) and Iris Wickman (Everbridge).
  • Formed a successful partnership with the Walt Disney Company EMEA Security Team to look at ways of addressing issues of diversity and inclusion across the security industry. Our inaugural event focused on practical ways of removing various barriers faced when entering and progressing within in the security industry, and featured the likes of the EY who spoke in depth about their pioneering EY Foundation initiative. The event, focussing specifically on the topic of diversity and inclusion, was the first of its type in the Chapter’s history.


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