York Electronic Systems’ Jennifer Jezek on Trends, Challenges and Diversity in Security

*Originally published on SecuritySales.com

In this month’s SECURE Perspectives, Jezek shares her take on a number of hot topics in today’s security industry.

SECURE Perspectives is a monthly column by the Security Industry Association (SIA) profiling women in the security industry. This column is part of SIA’s Women in Security Forum, an initiative to support the participation of women in the security field through programs, professional development and networking events.

For this edition of SECURE Perspectives, SIA spoke with Jennifer Jezek, president and CEO at York Electronic Systems.

SIA: How did you get into the security industry?

Jennifer Jezek: My parents, Steve and Judi York, founded York Electronic Systems (YES) in 1984, so you could say I was born into the security industry.

How does your organization serve the industry?

We are a turnkey low voltage systems integrator providing design, engineering, construction, software as a service (SaaS), central station monitoring, and traditional maintenance and break-fix services.

What types of job functions do women fill in your company?

Administrative, sales and operations — women at YES consistently gravitate toward detail-oriented roles.

With more and more data that shows diversity makes a better workforce, what opportunities do you see for women in the security industry?

There are unlimited opportunities in the security industry for women. There is high demand for solutions architects, sales engineers, project managers and lead technicians.

What impediments do you see for achieving this? What could remedy some of these impediments?

The role of a lead technician and project manager is ever-evolving. Traditional thinking that women don’t belong on the job site has been eroded over the course of my career. Roles with high physical requirements may be limiting for some; however, as more highly skilled women enter the workforce and as technology innovations advance, those physical roles will become more tactical in nature.

What do you see as important trends in the industry?

A wholistic approach that provides, physical, digital and information security is key as security becomes ubiquitous in our daily lives.

More specifically, what trends are you seeing in your company’s space as a systems design and integration firm and practitioner?

COVID-19 has dovetailed trends towards automation, including contactless solutions and artificial intelligence (AI).

What are the top challenges your company has faced in the last year?

Disruptions from COVID ranging from health and safety to work site shutdowns, absence and illness have been our top challenges that tested our grit and agility.

What are the biggest opportunities your company — and the industry — are seeing?

SaaS, expanded surveillance, access control and AI applications promoting a safe return to the workplace and public spaces.

What do you hope the SIA Women in Security Forum can achieve for the security industry?

Develop a future workforce that is vibrant, equitable and inclusive.

What is your best advice for women in the industry?

My best advice for all women, regardless of industry, is invest in yourself and never stop learning.

Who or what was the strongest influence in your career?

My dad is my mentor and my biggest champion. I returned to York in 2002 after a career in IT, and my dad allowed me to run operations. At that point I had never stepped foot on a construction site and couldn’t spell AIA, so it was a pretty big risk on his part. He trusted me enough to allow me to fail and learn from my mistakes. Running operations really showed me the significance of our work, and it created a meaningful imprint that led me to want to become an owner — not just because it was my family’s business, but because what we do matters.

How do you define success?

Success is finding a way to contribute to the world that is meaningful to you and others.

What would you say to new upcoming women in the industry?

You belong here. Approach your profession with curiosity and confidence.