- Security TWENTY
- Women in Security
“Leaving school in 1987, I became an employee of a small independent Ironmongery store in Dundee called William Robertson and Company. From here I learnt the basics of working behind the trade counter, picking orders and dealing with contractors. It’s from this role, I found a passion for ironmongery and the security industry and new opportunities to progress presented themselves.
“During my progression I became GAI qualified, which gave me the basis to succeed within the industry. The opportunity came to move to the ASSA ABLOY group in 2004 and I felt the history of the brand and working with the highest quality of architectural ironmongery made it an obvious move for me. Within this role, I worked closely with Universities, Colleges and Hospitals to provide secure locking solutions.
“Finally, in 2011 a move from Assa to Abloy UK was presented. The challenge of combining my mechanical experience with electro-mechanical solutions, introduced me to technologies such as Electric Strikes, Electric Locks and digital locking solutions.”
“Put simply, my role is to be a problem solver in finding an electronic or mechanical locking solution for a building. Access control has a wide range of applications and products far greater than a mechanical lock. I specify components to create a ‘fit for purpose’ security system that can control ingress and egress via door automation, a key system or a key fob. I look at how the door needs to function and consider how the system needs to react in emergency situations, in a dynamic lockdown situation for example.
“Access control can also be applied to improving procedures, and utilising audit trails to collect data when a key enters a cylinder, or a sensor opens a door. There is an intricacy involved in integrating these components to create a compliant system that also provides an ease of use for the end-user.
“I enjoy my job as every project is different with a specific set of needs, and there is so much variety within my customer base. One day I will be in a hospital setting, the next I’ll be educating professionals in a Historic Building and then I will be creating a master key system for a university! However, the clientele will always fall within two key areas; education and specification.”
“From the education perspective, if there is a solution I’ve specified previously that has proven successful, I take the time to contact other professionals within the same sector that could benefit. Also, the security industry is always adapting to new regulations, ever evolving technology and needs that an end-user and installer needs to be informed on.
“For example, the introduction of BS EN13637 has changed how emergency doors can be specified and the desire for hands-free access control has risen due to the current conditions.
“I also invite professionals to CPD training that Abloy offers to Architects, M & E consultants and Estate Officers, where I’ll discuss the compliance standards and the additional operational improvements a sector can benefit from.
“Another key area of my role stems from being regularly asked to survey doors where I offer my advice on whether they are compliant. For example, I can look at fire doors and escape doors in-depth to see whether they meet BS EN179 and BS EN1125 standards. This gives me a great opportunity to provide valuable information on how they can improve the safety of their building and its occupants.
“The educational element of the role will always stress the importance of compliance. I know it’s a huge topic, after so many recent high-profile issues with non-compliant products failing. By raising the awareness, we can ensure that the solution will not fail when it is called upon.”
“When I’m asked by a customer to specify, I will arrive at the premises and evaluate their current solution. It’s very important to have an understanding of the needs of the building, such as how often rooms are accessed? Are there high-risk areas that require increased security? What are the challenges the client faces?
“The starting point for every specification is compliance. How will the solution fit in with the building compliance as a whole? What is the function of the door? Does the solution help the inclusivity of the building? Compliance in its truest form isn’t just ensuring the standards are met, it’s requires a holistic approach considering the security requirements, balanced with the flow of the building and management of building users.
“I use my past experiences and close contact with my clients to understand their specific needs. For example, I have many healthcare clients that have similar challenges, but you need understand the inner workings of each individual hospital, as it’s not going to be a one size fits all solution.”