Title: Strategic Planning Manager
Company: Preferred Technologies LLC
Education: Master's degree in homeland security studies, masters certificates in critical infrastructure protection and emergency management, and a bachelor's degree in accounting from Sam Houston State University; associates degrees in business and science from Lone Star College
Organizational Affiliations: Member of InfraGard, Team Rubicon, and ASIS Intl.
Achievements/Awards: Intern of the Year, Preferred Technologies, 2018
What made you realize you wanted to pursue a career in technology?
I never started out with the intention of pursuing a career in technology. Prior to my current career, I was an accountant for a third-party bookkeeper for municipalities. I was miserable and needed change. My personal passion was teaching people to take care of themselves and their families. This led to me returning to school to earn a master’s in homeland security. My goal was to take something I was passionate about and focus it to more of my community.
Pref-Tech gave me that opportunity. Through technology, we are able to provide safer communities all across the state. The security industry and technology go hand in hand. Some of the greatest advances in the security industry come in the forms of customized programming and analytics.
I am proud to be associated with a company that embraces the title of “trusted advisor” to our customers regarding new and emerging technologies, updating their existing systems, or custom designing solutions to their individual pain points.
What three adjectives would you use to describe your journey in the industry so far?
Challenging — helping to use technology to create efficiencies that will benefit the entire company.
Flexible — the ability to triage issues and create solutions quickly has served me in my career.
Exciting — many opportunities for the company’s growth.
What is your personal mantra?
Our family lives by three rules:
We believe every decision in life can be traced back to those three rules.
I’ve been blessed with a job that allows me to do those three things on a daily basis, especially the last. I get to be a part of protecting my coworkers, our customers, and our communities.
Describe highest point in your career so far and how you got there, including all the hurdles you had to jump (and the ones you tripped over too).
My journey with Pref-Tech began while I was still in my master's program at Sam Houston State University. Two gentlemen from Pref-Tech, one being the owner, came in to give a presentation to our security management class. The presentation led me to create a long list of questions; which, in turn, led to an offer of a summer internship.
During the four-month internship, I got to work in every department. The department I was able to assist with the most, though, was sales. At that time, the team consisted of six people. Each team member was maxed out on bandwidth, and opportunities were still steadily increasing. There was too much opportunity and not enough people. The team had to grow.
In the fall of 2018, at the completion of my education, I was offered a job as a sales and design professional with Pref-Tech. I came into the industry as “green” as possible and was incredibly underprepared. The complexities of each project’s parts and pieces, proposals, and customer management were not coming to me easily. As an incredibly analytical and introverted person, I was feeling defeated and incompetent. I was failing, and it was bleeding over into my home life. It was after a sales training course that I finally admitted I wasn’t in the right seat on the bus and took my concerns to my supervisor.
The vice president of sales had no clue where to put me, so he created a position for me — strategic planning analyst. I was assigned special projects, tasked to build a marketing department from scratch, assisted with onboarding new employees, and so much more. In slightly over a year, I was given my own team to lead and manage. I created a custom onboarding program for new hires that is capable of tracking objectives, schedules, standards, and accountability. It has enabled us to track how new employees are advancing. It also quickly identifies new hires that cannot keep up with company core values and expectations, thus saving time and money.
The technology I used to build the onboarding training was all new to me. We utilize Microsoft D365, and I had the opportunity to teach myself many programs within that platform and how to link them all together.
My greatest achievement thus far is being able to directly improve processes and procedures to enhance the people on our team to best serve our customers and communities.
What is your most admirable quality?
Grit, which is defined as passion and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals. It is the ability to persist in something I feel passionate about and persevere when I face obstacles. Grit is also one of the company’s five core values. The most important achievements in life are the ones a person must fight for. Facing challenges test the determination and dedication to goals.
I have not placed a goal in front of myself that has not been met yet. If I don't achieve it on the first try, I refuse to quit until I do. One of the goals I am still working on is marketing. I have no skills in this field, so I am having to learn about marketing, test different software platforms, and discern best practices for a completely virtual world.
What aspect of the industry do you think has the most potential for growth, and, on the other hand, which aspect do you think needs the most improvement?
In the world of security, technology is changing every six to 12 months. The hard part is that our customers cannot upgrade that fast. Our challenge is to help our customers future-proof their systems as much as possible. It is more reasonable for them to maintain a system for five to 10 years. We have to help them with a gradual system health management plan.
When you imagine the future of the technology industry, what does it look like?
The future of security industry and technology is dependent upon internal and external influences. An example of an external influence is 5G infrastructure. An internal example could be how manufacturers, end users, and integrators work together to creatively resolve real-time issues that arise.
What is the most valuable life lesson you have learned so far, and how has it helped you in your career?
Never stop learning and don’t be afraid of the challenges or failure. Failure is just another opportunity to reevaluate, correct the course, and try again.
What three adjectives come to mind when you think about the future?
Exciting — Five years ago I would never have thought I would be here. The technology changes constantly, so I am certain I will be in a job that probably does not exist today.
Transparent — Duplicate myself, share the knowledge at work and at home.
Confident — I want to become a true leader, “drive the bus,” see people grow, solve problems that others are afraid to approach, and make sure my passion is contagious.