On the RISE is a bi-monthly column by the Security Industry Association (SIA) in partnership with Security Sales & Integration profiling the next generation of security industry leaders. This column is part of SIA’s RISE initiative, a community that fosters the careers of young professionals in the security through networking and career growth events, education and professional development offerings and scholarship opportunities.
For this installment of On the RISE, SIA spoke with Marquis Chester, business development coordinator, marketing and communications, at Securitas USA, and a 2022 recipient of the SIA RISE Scholarship.
SIA: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Marquis Chester: I was born and raised in Macon, Ga. I attended the University of Georgia from 2015 to 2019 while majoring in entertainment media and double-minoring in film and sociology. I currently live in Marietta, Ga.
What first got you interested in security and safety as a career choice?
I wanted a job that allowed me to play a significant role in people’s lives. Securitas had an open position as a business development coordinator for marketing and communications, and I applied because I felt a global security firm would be an avenue where I could foster that sense of influence. Security touches the lives of countless people and businesses, and I enjoy knowing I play a role in that.
What has your career path been?
My career as a creative began in 2018 when I was appointed assistant director of communications for the University of Georgia Homecoming Committee. In that role, I produced countless branded materials, administered the website and procured marketing collateral. The same year, I began interning with the Athens Regional Library System. As the library system’s web design and digital media intern, I produced video content for their YouTube channel while also managing the content feed of their website.
Immediately following graduation in December 2019, I began working for the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) as their communications intern; my duties included a great deal of copywriting, event photography, campaign management and systems development. I have used all these skills and more in my first year working at Securitas.
Who has influenced you or mentored you — either within the security field or outside?
My boss at DCA, Davia Lassiter, has had the most significant influence on my professional development on an individual level. In the year we worked together, she helped formalize my skill set, which was merely a loose assortment of experiences that she helped solidify into a more effective form. My college professor, James Biddle, has also been instrumental in my success. The life lessons he’s shared with me were equal in value to the practical skills he taught me.
Biddle showed me how to light a scene, stage and compose a shot and value myself as part of a team. Like Davia, he challenged me to rise to the occasion and become a better version of myself so that I might seek it out in others. Much of the same is true about my high school advisor, Morgan Jarvis, who has always been a father figure since my days in high school. He was one of the first people in my life to personally invest his time and energy into making me a more responsible adult. He sacrificed pieces of himself to ensure I had all I needed to succeed.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I was a DJ for years at a college radio station, 90.5 FM WUOG Athens. From 2016 to 2019, I did hourly rotations, playing everything from electro-funk to folk Americana. I was also the host and producer of a talk show called Still Watching (now a podcast called The Watch Party), where my friends and I discussed our favorite TV shows.
What are some challenges and advantages of being a young professional in security?
Many challenges and advantages both stem from the same reality. Young people, in large part, don’t have the same loyalty to any brand or company that our parents and their parents had. There was a time when you could spend decades working for the same firm, climb the corporate ladder and retire comfortably as a “company man.” Young people don’t see that as a realistic option like prior generations did. This mentality presents a challenge because companies are aware of this and might be hesitant to invest in a skilled candidate because they know they might not stay long. However, this can also be a great advantage for young professionals who have no inhibitions when accepting the best offer available whenever it presents itself.
What advice do you have for young professionals just starting out in the industry?
I would love for young people to understand to take their time and not rush success. There’s nothing wrong with moving quickly to get where you want to be, but in all likelihood you don’t have to be there tomorrow. Young professionals should be more patient with themselves and offer themselves more grace. They are already under a tremendous amount of pressure from every direction. It is acceptable, perhaps even necessary, to take life one month, one day, one moment at a time to not hurt yourself in the process.
What do you enjoy most about being at your company — and in the security industry?
I enjoy Securitas because of the people. My supervisor, Tommy Zarna, is one of the best personalities I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. He’s genial, supportive and competent. His level of professionalism is an example of, not an exception to, the type of people who work here. As far as security as a whole, I enjoy telling the story of how security companies help turn the dreams of a business into reality by protecting what matters most to them. It is a powerful message that I have enjoyed delivering.
How do you define success?
It’s hard to see success as anything other than a game of numbers at work, but I love the feeling of a job well done. At a base level, achieving a goal that is both realistic and ambitious gives me deep satisfaction. I’ve worked on a project basis for most of my career, so I operate in a mindset built on the cycle of beginning, middle and end. Going through each step with efficiency is always the objective. Coming out the other side with new lessons learned is a bonus.
How do you think the SIA RISE community can help foster the careers of young people in the industry? What does the program offer that is most important to you/your company?
SIA RISE should continue its efforts of professional development. I have felt underqualified for most of my career because I didn’t graduate with a marketing degree. The industry is hard to break into without experience. Investing in professionals in their early years is how you help grow careers.
What are some key components of your marketing and business development role with Securitas?
My core responsibility is to be a storyteller. Securitas has a message it wants to share with the world, and I must deliver it. When the people have heard that message and want to learn more, I help guide them toward the people and resources that provide them with the services they need.
What are some ways in which you think the security industry could foster more diversity, equity and inclusion?
Inclusivity sustains diversity. The industry could build that diversity by redefining the almost paramilitaristic image of security officers. There are countless ways to project strength without the overdone brutalist themes that plague most firms.
How is the shifting technological landscape presenting both challenges and opportunities for the security industry?
Advancing technologies make cybersecurity an issue not just of tomorrow, but today. Firms have a golden opportunity to pivot from only officers on the ground to investments in digital security apparatuses that could provide an entirely new subscription-based revenue stream.
What has been the most rewarding accomplishment or experience in your career in the security industry?
Theaters in Texas aired a commercial I produced as a preshow advertisement. As someone who has always wanted to work in the film industry, it was a tremendous honor for my work to be shown on the big screen.
What are your predictions for where the security industry may be headed in the next five-10 years?
Over the next decade, I see an increase in investment from security firms into cybersecurity, surveillance technologies and remote services. I don’t anticipate a decline in physical security guards simply because the mere image of officers makes locations more secure.
*Originally published on SecuritySales.com*