Women in security and biometrics ‘breaking the mould’
Not one for shying away from ‘breaking the mould’, Jemma Doidge has gone from strength to strength in her role as Operations Manager at ievo Ltd, a leading designer and manufacturer of world-class biometric recognition systems. In this traditionally male dominated industry she has shown no hesitation in demonstrating her capability and producing results time and time again.
A 2013 report conducted by (ISC) on the Global Information Security Workforce found that women represent just 11 per cent of the workforce. The Women’s Security Society actually estimates that across the security industry as a whole that number is reduced down to 10 per cent. Compare this statistic to the amount of women in the general workforce of professional roles, where results are closer to a 50/50 split. Previously, a career path in the security industry often came through policing or military backgrounds. However, this is changing, Jemma is one of a number of women in security making her impact known. There are more and more women holding executive level roles as well as a considerable increase in women entering the industry at junior level positions.
As Operations Manager of ievo Ltd, Jemma Doidge’s senior role involves overseeing the production of a range of biometric systems in the most efficient manner in order to meet the high expectations of security installers and integrators worldwide. Jemma grew up in Devon before moving to the North East with her young son to work for ievo. Not only was the move a change in location but also a change of industry, having previously spent 15 years in travel and tourism management.
Q.: What was your first position at ievo Ltd?
A.: I started off as an internal sales coordinator, which involved sending quotes, speaking to installers, managing online leads and supporting the sales team. I would often be the first point of contact for our clients, which I fully enjoyed. Once I felt I had the skills and knowledge of the industry I then focused on the sales side of the business and was promoted to North Region Account Manager, covering accounts from Manchester up to the highlands of Scotland.
Q.: What did you find hard about the role?
A.: As I had to ensure that all of my accounts were happy with the products and service offered by ievo, I would often have to visit various sites across the north in order to support and advise on system installations. By working alongside ievo’s technical team, I built up my technical knowledge, allowing me to answer often quite tricky questions asked by clients. I needed to understand not only our products, but also the systems that they work alongside. When attending site, the ability to display product knowledge whilst demonstrating the advantages our system brought to a business would be the best way to build effective relationships with installers and end users alike.
Q.: Did your gender ever affect potential client’s views?
A.: In the past, it was a rarity to find a woman on site. However, the industry has changed dramatically, with importance placed on increasing the amount of women within the industry. Clients base their views on ievo’s product quality, ease of use and compatibility, as they would with any supplier rather than focussing on gender.
Q.: What interested you in Operations Management and what are your main responsibilities?
A.: After a year and a half managing the northern accounts, there was an internal discussion that highlighted the need to unify the sales and technical departments to work more effectively together. As the business grew, importance was placed on making sure all operations worked in synergy. Because I had the technical knowledge as well as the sales background, and referring back to my 15 years of management, I was approached about the role of Operations Manager. I knew the position would be a challenge but I was at a point where I wanted to progress my career further, so I took on the role with the core task of aligning and coordinating the productivities and functionalities of the two departments whilst increasing and improving efficiencies, systems and processes.
As a member of the senior management team, ultimately I am responsible for the whole operational side of the business, including stock management, project management, overseeing and supporting the technical support team, understanding and prioritising client requests and technical development, as well as supporting the sales team. My team consists of eight males, all of whom I have developed a great working relationship. We work as a team covering all aspects of technical help, development, assembly and dispatch whilst developing procedures to help further the business.
Q.: What’s the biggest challenge within the role?
A.: Time. I just don’t have enough of it. We are a very busy business that has grown substantially year on year in terms of sales and also team members. We continuously develop and implement new procedures to improve on production, increase efficiency whilst making sure that every ievo product that leaves the building is built to our high standards that customers have come to expect.
Q.: Why do you think there aren’t more women working within the Security industry?
A.: It may be that the security industry itself hasn’t recognised the different skill sets that woman can bring to the workforce, or it may just be that the industry itself has struggled to target higher learning institutes in order to bring in fresh faces to the industry. Quite simply, many school leavers aren’t aware of the variety in roles that the security industry provides, how exciting it is and the development opportunities within. As the biometric access market grows, the industry itself will need to increase the workforce to keep up with demand, by splitting the amount of potential candidates in half, growth will not come easy.
Q.: How do you see the future of Biometric technology?
A.: Our managing director, Shaun Oakes believes that our fingerprint readers will be on the front door of every house one day! That’s the ambition for ievo Ltd.
Seeing how the world has rapidly accepted the wide use of biometrics in consumer goods, the technology is now part of our everyday lives, As we see more and more industries adapting their businesses to take advantage of the security benefits biometrics offer we are starting to see a devolution of past security systems. The future of pin numbers or card entry system is limited, we have found that companies that are too reliant on pass cards are looking for ways in which to evolve their security protocols, and are looking at adapting biometrics to offer a two tier line of security; this allows them to keep using their pass cards, but also utilise biometric technology. As time passes they can slowly adapt their systems again to phase out the secondary credential aspect. Likewise we are seeing a huge interest in banks employing biometrics to allow for tighter security access for customer accounts. Our readers can be found in schools, prisons, offices, factories and even football clubs! The future of biometrics isn’t limited to the corporate sector either; the acceptance of the technology in everyday lives means that residential use will certainly become even more popular over the coming years and is an area we are looking to develop in.
Q.: What advice would you give to other women looking to work within the security industry?
A.: Don’t let pre-conceptions hold you back; the industry, just like any other, is changing and growing constantly. Organisations are shifting attention to this issue and recognising the contributions that women are making in order to inspire future generations of women to transform the industry. Big industry names are backing the likes of ‘Women in Biometrics Awards’ as well as the ‘2017 Women in Security Awards’. The security industry is exciting, with the biometric market set to grow substantially year on year, if you find the right business, gender will never be an issue.