Competitive Intelligence Club hosts guest speaker virtually

Sarah Klein, Copy editor

On March 23 at 7 p.m., the Mercyhurst Competitive Intelli-gence Club virtually hosted guest speaker Bob Hayes over Zoom. Hayes and his two colleagues, Elizabeth Lancaster and Kathleen Kotwica, spoke to students about the need for intelligence and global security in today’s world.

Hayes is the managing director of the Security Executive Council (SEC), a research and advisory services firm that serves a wide range of risk management decision-makers. Its community includes security practitioners, agencies, universities, NGOs, innovative solution providers, media companies and industry groups.

Hayes is a private-sector intelligence titan with more than 25 years of security experience that he was able to share with the group. He spoke alongside Lan-caster and Kotwica about security, success and where students should go from here. Hayes began the discussion by talking about what all elements of a security program have in common. He identified this as one word: information. We live in a society nowadays where we have a never-ending stream of information, but security is about finding the reliable truth.

Hayes noted that “security people in an organization can have a harder time being as influential as more recognized and funded departments like HR or marketing.”

However, in Hayes’ opinion, security plays an undeniably integral role which has only been bolstered by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. “People may not understand what security practitioners do, but we can be far more than a private-sector police force,” Hayes said.

He also discussed the fact that security is changing due to technological advances like AI, which have moved security away from just the physical realm and into cybersecurity and safety analysis. Because of this, wages in the industry have risen significantly.

“Security and cyber professionals in leadership roles now earn up to millions of dollars per year, and the most emerging part of the industry is the field that you’re all intelligence,” Hayes said.

Hayes explained to the group that he fell into the security world sort of by accident, but that he has had tremendous luck and success in his career. Hayes noted that if he had to live his whole life all over again, he would go back and become an intelligence analyst. The SEC has created a career of using analysis to “study successful programs and successful leaders” and has concluded as a result that there are only two things that all successful companies have in common. “The first is a great story to tell,” said Hayes. “The second is that successful people focus on C4R, meaning circumstances, conditions, culture and resources.” Finally, Hayes concluded the conversation by telling students that he was proud that a distinguishing part of the SEC is their focus on partnerships, and that he was excited to get more involved in partnering with Mercyhurst. He told students that he would like to help them meet the right people in the industry and to recommend new and niche products or employers that they should look to stay ahead in the field and get hired as analysts.

“One of our proudest accomplishments is our new partnership with Mercyhurst and the opportunities we hope to bring there,” Hayes said.

The Zoom session ended with a short Q&A, where students asked questions about how COVID might impact the security industry, how they can foster collective knowledge-based teamwork and how they could get more involved with the SEC. For all those who could not make it to the call but found this article interesting, Hayes had lots to say about staying involved.

For current Intelligence Studies underclassmen, there will be plenty of opportunities to work with the SEC in the future, as the company is planning a greater collaboration with Mercyhurst in the near future. As well as this, Hayes suggested that students follow the SEC on social media and check out their videos on YouTube. In particular, Hayes recommended a video about the right questions to ask in job interviews and before accepting a job.

Lastly, the SEC publishes a monthly corporate security news-letter which provides the strategic insight that helps security executives excel in their roles. Topics frequently covered include security strategic planning, risk assessment, corporate security metrics and advice on communicating security’s value. This publication is considered to be a state-of-the-art knowledge center for security practitioners and is read by over 40,000 people monthly.

Mercyhurst students are more than welcome to head to the SEC website to subscribe for free. This was the Competitive Intelligence Club’s second guest speaker of the semester. Before we all take a break for summer, the club hopes to host one more speaker or in-person event.