Una's blog

WiS awards night

by Mark Rowe

The last few weeks have been crazy, writes our regular contributor Una Riley. She’s now back in the United States, but was in the UK last month for the presentation of the Professional Security WiS awards, hosted this year by the Security Institute.

However, a couple of days before the event I was notified that an appointment had arisen to see a world leading professor (who is specializing in ‘bionic’ eyes) who would be in Manchester before leaving for Latin America. This was a huge opportunity that was initiated here in the USA. Since I became clinically blind some time ago I have been on the lookout for technological breakthroughs that may help. So there I was presented with this dilemma … should I stay or should I go? I spoke to Roy Cooper my co-presenter of the awards and sought his counsel … he said he would be fine after all he had Baroness Ruth Henig our honorary judge and president of the Security Institute by his side. So after all the work on the awards behind the scenes I missed out on the actual occasion! As a Fellow of the Institute I had been so looking forward to being there on the night … alas, after seeing the professor I was informed that I was not a suitable candidate for the bionic eye at this stage. However, all was not lost as I have found a great eye expert and will continue to monitor technology in this area.

On my return from Manchester I could not wait to catch up with Roy Cooper and his co-presenter Baroness Henig to find out how the night had gone at the gala dinner and WiS presentation at the Amba Marble Arch Hotel in London. I knew it would be a great event because of all the work that had gone on behind the scenes by Di Thomas and her team, with the commitment from the top. Gary Evanson, Chairman of the Security Institute had said before the event: “I want to bring your attention to the Gala Dinner that follows the conference. This year it falls to the Security Institute to host the annual Professional Security – Women in Security Awards. We decided that the informal dinner that normally follows the conference would not be sufficient to do justice to such an important event on the calendar of the security profession. The dinner will be black tie and is held to celebrate the achievements of women who have made a contribution to the security profession.” I asked Roy Cooper how did the celebration go. Roy replied: “It was an excellent dinner and the chairman, Gary Evanson was the talent for the evening. An operatic performance by the chairman set the tone for this showcase event. One of the things I love about the WiS awards is the way it travels around the industry and how every year it is different. There has not been one event the same as the other and the flavour and tone set by each of the industry lead bodies is truly unique to them and the award presentation.” I wanted to know more about the evening and turned to Baroness Henig. How did she feel this year’s compared to the past? She replied: “The women in security awards presentation gets bigger and better each year. Both you and Roy can be justly proud of the prestige these awards now attract in the industry. At this year’s awards dinner, the room was buzzing, with women of all ages from across the security sector, and the atmosphere was wonderfully positive. Roll on next year!” It was Baroness Henig who first said the WiS awards should be known as the ‘Oscars’ of the security Profession. The red carpet should be rolled out for women in security … it’s about time.

It really is a hard task for all the judges and it is getting harder because the talent is outstanding. This year the finalists in the industry category were Michelle Bailey, of Active Response Security Services; Baroness Angela Harris, as patron of the UK Chapter of ASIS; Dr Alison Wakefield, University of Portsmouth; Kay Aitkin, of the National Security Inspectorate (NSI); and the winner, Yasmeen Stratton, of SSR Personnel. Not only the finalists but all the nominations for 2016 were of the highest standard and quality. The industry category is where I either know the finalists or I am aware of their work in the security profession and it makes me very proud to see the contribution that all these women have made or are making to shape this industry into the profession it is. We have come a long way since I started my business in 1985.

In the front line category were Caroline Sadler, Vanguard Security Services; Maverney Jones, CIS Security; Kelly Cooper, Securitas; Donna Popoveniuc, Sodexo and the winner in this category, Lorraine Mansfield, VSG. To date we have had three categories but next year we are going to introduce a fourth. The reason is that we had hoped that the existing categories represented the wider world of security in each category. The front line category represented the guarding sector. Industry represented the systems sector and the end user the security departments within potential client’s premises. However, it has now been decided that we introduce a front line officer category, only for personnel working as active officers.

In the end user category this year the finalists were Georgia Hillyard, Intu Bromley Shopping Centre; Tracey Pretorius, Microsoft; Dawn Holmes, Bloomberg; Jayne King, Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and the winner in this category Edit Bori, of Westminster Abbey. During the next year I will be catching up with these women to find out more about their experience as finalists and winners.

I started to outline a snapshot of the achievements of these finalists but there was just not the space, therefore I will take a more individual approach before the 2017 awards. Which means I will be spending more time in the UK to make that happen.

I am in LA with Hurricane Mathew wreaking havoc in Haiti and threatening the East Coast of Florida. We also have political havoc as the two nominees for president continue to dish the dirt on each other … meanwhile in LA we have been on amber alert for an earthquake. Since we have lived here the fear of ‘the big one’ has loomed. Next month I will find out more on that subject. In the meantime, I I look forward to seeing many of you at the NSI-hosted PSM-WiS awards next year if not before.

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