This is a man’s world…claims the infamous lyrics of James Brown; and whilst he may not have been singing about the security industry specifically, it’s fair to say that the increasing numbers of women in the industry are raising their profile and being recognised for the accomplishments, value and contributions.
Here, SecurityNewsDesk meets Tina Hughan, New Marketing Director for ASSA ABLOY, to look at to her own career through the ranks of the global leader in door opening solutions, and talk about her views on the changing face of gender diversity in the security industry.
Can you tell me a bit about your background and education? How did you get started in marketing?
I was really lucky at the beginning of my career, as in my first job at Babcock I was able to explore different job roles and actually settled initially into an HR role. It wasn’t until I moved to British Airports Authority that I made the switch to marketing.
I have progressed through my career to develop skills in business to business and business to consumer marketing strategy on a UK and global basis, and continued to keep up to date with marketing trends to support companies as diverse as Salisbury Handbags to Securicor, BOC Group and Daily Mail Group.
Along the way I completed an economics A level at open learning in six months, an HND in business and finance, a diploma in marketing and an MA in marketing – alongside having two children and working full-time..
What brought you to security and how long have you been with ASSA ABLOY? How did your promotion come about?
In 2007, I joined ASSA ABLOY in Swanlea, working just for Adams Rite and at the time I was looking forward to making a significant contribution to the marketing department of a company that offered genuine opportunities for progression.
As Adams Rite joined with UNION and subsequently ASSA my position broadened to cover the joint marketing strategy, which involved very careful and coordinated trade activity.
This evolved to my appointment as Head of Marketing for ASSA ABLOY to take overall responsibility for Security Solutions, Access Control and Security Doors before being promoted in 2014 as Marketing Director with a breath of responsibility to ensure the successful promotion of ASSA ABLOY to the specification and trade markets.
What are your goals and aims for ASSA ABLOY through your new position?
My initial aim for the new position is to launch the UK specification business to the industry; but I believe there is also an important objective to build on the overall brand awareness of ASSA ABLOY, and all it has to offer as the global leader in door opening solutions.
How are you aiming to position ASSA ABLOY?
Our aim is to demonstrate ASSA ABLOY’s unique ability to operate as a global solutions partner, the one that architects and specifiers approach to understand and plan all their door opening requirements for any works programme.
Our intention is to position ASSA ABLOY as having an ability to provide the right answer and product solution for any end-user market requirement anywhere in the UK, in partnership with leading OEMs, system integrators and installers.
What is ASSA ABLOY focusing on at the moment and what does the future hold?
At the moment the focus is purely on building awareness of the ASSA ABLOY group brand.
Whilst the trade may understand the product brands, with the new specification division, there is a powerful proposition to offer our partners not just product quality which would be expected from a global leader, but also value added services in understanding and providing BIM Object, NBS Plus specification writing, innovation and supporting complete specification from initial design concepts to project completion.
The specification business is really an exciting step forward for ASSA ABLOY to demonstrate their capability to deliver total solutions in all vertical markets and work hard to create a more secure world.
What is unique about marketing a security company as opposed to any other industry?
The security industry and its audience is so diverse that it naturally calls on my skillsets in business to business and business to consumer marketing on a daily basis!
The industry, and by working for such a leading group company, is also unique in the need to constantly be creative in all forms of marketing, from advertising to social media and PR but also consistently measure and analyse the return on investment not just in UK activity but across the globe to ensure our messages are aligned.
Was there anyone in particular you looked up to as an example?
I feel very fortunate that I have never had to look very far for inspiration. My own father rose through the ranks from being an engineer for Mullard to ‘retiring’ as the Managing Director of a Phillip’s Group company. Even now he still works and I am constantly inspired by his dedication, commitment and willing to keep working!
In your experience, do you think women are underrepresented in the industry?
Totally underrepresented; across all the management board and wider security industry women are always the minority. It’s something the industry needs to work on – but at the same time, it needs women in the industry to step up and take on the opportunities available.
Have you ever experienced gender bias?
All my life (apart from Salisbury’s Handbags!) I have operated in male dominated industries and constantly faced gender bias – but I have never let it stop me achieving or reaching my targets in marketing.
The security profession, in all its forms, has traditionally been male dominated with very few women in the arena.
The perception that careers in security are not open to women, coupled with an evident lack of diversity has not provided the best platform to encourage women to enter or have an ability to promote the profiles of the few women that are in the industry.
Do you think there needs to be more done to increase gender diversity in the sector?
I definitely believe more needs to be done to increase gender diversity across the industry. And it’s fair to say, times are changing, companies, including ASSA ABLOY, are setting more targets to encourage gender diversity across the global operation.
Are you a member of any societies or groups such as BSIA, ASIS, The Security Institute or the Women’s Security Society? If so, how do you think these groups help companies and professionals?
I have membership to societies relating to marketing rather than industry specific – but in my new role I will be joining more security groups to ensure we can make changes in the industry and canvass for gender diversity.
Only by working together can we ensure companies and professionals understand the importance of this campaign but also not just to appoint a woman for the sake of a tick box, but also to ensure the right person is appointed to the role, however senior.
At the same time, I would hope such societies can reach out to other women and inspire them to achieve and may be apply for different roles and positions perhaps they may not have deemed viable.
What are your personal goals for the future?
I have always been a big believer in hard work, sheer determination and to embrace new opportunities when they come along. And whilst I am excited by my new challenge of Marketing Director, who knows what the future will bring.
One day I would like to use my experiences combined and learned skillsets to start up my own business, and complete a doctorate to complete my education.
And on a very personal level, if I can just inspire one woman to think differently about operating in a very male dominated world….
Tina Hughan is the New Marketing Director for ASSA ABLOY, the global leader in door opening solutions. For more information, please visit www.assaabloy.co.uk.