Case study: Terri JonesTerri Jones, Director General at Skills for Security advocates vocational learning and advices others not to judge the security industry based on perceptions but to research the diverse range of careers available.
Director General, Skills for Security
I have a business degree, mainly because I really enjoyed statistics and marketing. When I graduated I undertook a job in marketing communications which although I enjoyed the creative side it really wasn’t for me.
I was fortunate enough to be offered a job at British Standards working in their International Standards library, which I did for a couple of years before being relocated to London and offered the role in the Electrical Engineering Information Section during the time when there were moves to standardise requirements across Europe, it was challenging and incredibly interesting given that at the time I didn’t even know how to wire a plug.
The next step was to take responsibility for the resale of British Standards Internationally, which had me travelling all over the world managing resale of British Standards and buying technical publications from international publishers for resale in the UK.
I then moved to the Management Systems division. I trained as an auditor for Health and Safety, Quality, Environmental and had my first taste of security as an Information Security Auditor.
After 16 years I left BSI and moved into education and training, working as a Head of Product Development and Marketing for the sector body responsible for process and manufacturing industries including print and mining.
I spent a brief spell managing as a Science, technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) programme manager, working with FE colleges up and down the country, raising standards in learning and teaching as part of a government sponsored scheme before finally moving into Skills for Security as Director General in 2013.
I find information security fascinating. Anyone can appreciate the benefits of managing personal and company information.
I didn’t know much about the security industry before I came to work at Skills for Security. Whilst at BSI I had a colleague who managed our security and risk section, I had worked with him briefly when SIA licensing was introduced and later on when I became an Information Security auditor I did find information security management fascinating and it is something I am still pleased to talk to anyone about as you don’t need to be technically minded or involved in security to appreciate the benefits of managing your personal and company information.
My current role is varied and interesting, as a company we are the largest deliverer of Electronic Security Systems Apprenticeships which is extremely rewarding and we recently set up a new training centre in Birmingham which is reporting 100% exam pass rates for our learners.
We develop and deliver a range of short courses for industry that cover anything from Risk Assessment to Information security to security supervisors.
As a kinesthetic learner, I learn by doing and its nice to be in an industry committed to vocational learning with initiatives like EoT and 100 in 100.
I enjoy working in the vocational education sector, as a kinesthetic learner, I learn by doing and although I have a degree, academic learning doesn’t suit my learning style and so I am keen to do anything that allows me to promote the scope of jobs and training available within the vocational sector. When skills for security were looking for a Director General it seemed like the perfect job and given the industry backing for initiatives like ‘engineers of tomorrow’ and 100 in 100, it is nice to be in an industry that has real commitment to vocational training.
I have worked in education and training across eleven industries from teaching to quarrying and mining and have to say I find security the most interesting. Going into schools and seeing the interest from students when you talk about biometric security systems, physical security and how and why the SIA licensing scheme came about is great, it is a truly interesting and diverse sector.
However, if you ask students about the industry they will say it de-feminises women, the uniforms are pretty masculine and unfortunately due to the lack of understanding of the varied careers most young girls I talk to only think of security as body guards, door supervisors and aggressive burly blokes. I haven’t come across anything close to that.
Employers need to think about their advertising and how they promote their organisation. Ensure imagery is inclusive and think about how you word your advertisement to ensure it does not deter female applicants.
By having positive role models and really promoting the different career options and the flexibility of many of the jobs in security we can attract more people to the industry. There is an interest in security career options but when people know what they are.