Leader Spotlight: Antoinette King, ACP, PSP, Key Account Manager, Axis Communications

Antoinette King has been in the security industry for 20 years, working both in integration and manufacturing in a variety of roles including field technician, inside sales, operations manager, and regional sales manager. Currently, she is a Key Account Manager based in New York for Axis Communications.

Having always dreamt of becoming a forensic psychologist and working for the FBI, Antoinette graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice before transferring to John Jay College in pursuit of a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Psychology. It was there at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice that she first learned about the Managing Security Systems program at SUNY Farmingdale. A security-based program with a focus on technology, she enrolled in the program and upon graduation became an adjunct professor in the department for 7 years.

Antoinette credits several key mentors with helping shape her career in the security industry. Early on in her career, the chair of the Criminal Justice Department at SUNY Farmingdale, who had the foresight to recognize that the security and IT industries were going to converge back in the late 1990’s, encouraged her to pursue Microsoft training and A+ certification. Later on, Antoinette drew guidance navigating the traditionally male-dominated security industry from Deb Ferril, a former colleague and current consultant on AdvisoryCloud, who was “the only woman in the room” long before Antoinette was. 

Antoinette is passionate about transferring what she knows about security and cybersecurity to the younger generation and mentors a group of 4th and 5th grade students in a school district in Westchester County. “We’re giving children adult tools (like iPhones, iPads, and access to the internet and social media sites),” says Antoinette, “but we’re not giving them any safety tips. I want to turn them into super digital citizens.” Of this current mentorship role, Antoinette says it’s the most rewarding thing she’s ever done. 

According to Antoinette, the security industry is currently experiencing a fundamental shift in how women are viewed. And thanks to organizations like ASIS International and the Security Industry Association, there are many men who are actively and vocally championing women in the security industry. 

Diversity is the root of innovation. Diversity in gender, ethnicity, age, and experience creates an opportunity for thinking out of the box. It only makes sense that having more women in leadership roles can only improve the current state of any industry, not just the security industry.”

– Antoinette King

While we still have a very long way to go in achieving gender equality in the workforce, Antoinette is optimistic about the direction in which we are headed. Conversations are now being held that wasn’t even conceived of a few years ago. With the support of the security community, she thinks we will continue to see more diversity in leadership and specifically, more women in leadership roles. 

Leader Spotlight: Suzanna Alsayed, MDEM, Project Delivery Specialist, Corporate Emergency Coordinator, Bell and Founder of Hilt International Security

Suzanna holds several degrees including a bilingual Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Political Science, a bilingual Honors B.A. in International Studies, a Certificate of Bilingualism, and a Masters in Disaster and Emergency Management. She has also completed several security and emergency management certifications, training, and programs, including numerous Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the United Nations Department of Safety & Security (UNSDD) courses. Currently, she is a Project Delivery Specialist and Corporate Emergency Coordinator at Bell. 

Suzanna was raised by a Russian mother and a Lebanese father–early mentors who recognized the importance of education and enjoyed discussing global politics and international affairs with a young Suzanna. Having grown up in a multicultural home, she is fluent in Russian, French, English, and has a rudimentary knowledge of Arabic and Mandarin. She is fascinated by how different languages reflect cultures, how culture shapes outlook, and how governments respond to critical situations–a response we are currently witnessing firsthand during the COVID-19 global pandemic crisis.

Suzanna always knew she wanted to be part of a dynamic and evolving industry, but didn’t know exactly what that purpose was until she discovered the security and emergency management world. Over the last 7 years, she has worked in the airline, insurance, pharmaceutical, and emergency management industries, as well as in universities and hospitals, in both a private and public capacity. Thanks to these experiences, she was able to develop professional relationships with myriad clients, stakeholders, and influencers, but it was a chance meeting at a Starbucks coffee shop with a risk management consultant that ultimately helped Suzanna discover her true professional purpose. 

In early 2020, Suzanna also founded Hilt International Security, a holistic security firm, that provides small- to medium-size businesses around the globe with security and emergency management service solutions. Her mission is to work with different international security and emergency management platforms in order to protect people and assets worldwide. Suzanna believes that by showcasing different skills, languages, culture, and expertise, the world can come together, one project at a time, one client at a time.

In her everyday life, Suzanna brings a multicultural view to the table, which is strategically advantageous in the field of emergency management and security. She continuously strives to ensure that she is up to date with industry practices, regulations, and standards in order to give back to her colleagues as both a coach and a mentor. She stresses the importance of having multiple mentors, at different stages in your professional and personal life, but also concedes that it is alright to outgrow your mentors too. “As long as you are able to give back what you’ve learned to the younger generation,” Suzanna says, “the world is your oyster.” 

“Leadership is about leading people. Empowering them. Guiding them. Mentoring them. It is about mitigating pressure for them. Pulling them together and pushing them towards their goals. It’s about taking the hit for your team. It is about being the first one in the office, and the last one out. That is leadership to me. Everything else is extra.”

– Suzanna Alsayed

A few tips on adopting a leadership mentality: 

  • Believe in yourself – dive in and take a chance. 
  • Set goals, learn from mistakes, and celebrate milestones.
  • Expand your network to learn from the best in your industry.
  • Continue learning and pursue personal development.
  • Practice self-worth.
  • Be the best version of yourself.
  • Be organized.
  • Know your limits. 
  • Lead by example.
  • Find a mentor.

Have you been influenced by a mentor? We’d love to hear who inspired you to join the security industry. 

Do you want to know how the security industry is reacting to Covid-19? Fill out this 5 minute survey and we’ll share the insights with you!