Aviation Security Executives saw their role change dramatically after 9/11. No airport was more affected than Boston Logan International from where two of the 9/11 hi-jacked airliners originated. Over a decade later, Michele Freadman, CPP, is the Security Executive charged with coordinating aviation security at Boston Logan—a part of the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport). In this extensive and thought-provoking interview, Freadman shares her thoughts on women in the security field, technology, security management, future trends, and much more with Voice of Security.
Voice of Security: At the 2012 ISC West show in Las Vegas, you were presented with a “Woman of the Year” award at the first event of its type by the Women’s Security Council. Congratulations on the award. You’ve had a long career in the security industry with strong leadership positions. What does an award like that mean to you?
Michele Freadman: I am very grateful to have been nominated and selected for this award. As a strong advocate of mentoring, I applaud the Women’s Security Council for including mentoring as one of the nomination criteria. The impact of mentoring on one’s career has infinite and life-long value.
Reflecting back on my career, the accomplishments that have been the most meaningful to me personally are those that I worked hard to achieve, required personal sacrifice, transformed adversity into opportunity, and have an impact on today’s youth:
- Earning my board certification as a Certified Protection Professional (CPP) from ASIS International after completing a rigorous study program, while balancing my work and home responsibilities;
- Being chosen to be the 2009 Keynote Speaker for Northeastern University’s College of Criminal Justice Senior Graduation Ceremony. This was a memorable honor which afforded me with the opportunity to mentor three graduates whom I continue to mentor today;
- Graduating first in my police academy for Academic Achievement and Firearms Expertise. This experience made me stronger, both physically and mentally, and prepared me well for my adventurous career path. In many ways, this achievement was a life shaping experience.
- Mentoring with Youth Villages, a national private non-profit organization dedicated to helping troubled children and their families live successful lives through effective services and programs, and serving in an advisory role for their Career Boot Camp Program, a job prep training program for young adults.
Voice of Security: While the roots of the security industry are still heavily influenced by male professionals, I’m curious, do you think we’ll reach a point in the security industry where we don’t break down awards into smaller segments such as “Women of the Year” or “Young Professional of the Year” and so on? In other words, does an award like this (one that “qualifies” the type of security professional) have any less meaning? Or, if not “less meaning” does it say something about our industry—and, if so, what?
Michele Freadman: I appreciate your thought-provoking question. It is an understandable practice that many professional associations sponsor awards which recognize women’s accomplishments in non-traditional or male-dominated industries. The security industry is not alone in instituting this practice. Awards of this type exist in other non-traditional industries such as aviation, finance, construction, engineering, and film, to name a few. Male-dominated industries provide particular challenges, as well as unique opportunities for women’s advancement.
That said, I think there is value in structuring awards to comport/harmonize with the same guidelines used in hiring and promoting employees – select the most qualified candidate while ensuring a diverse candidate pool, and reward merit. Universally, if qualifications and performance are the key drivers of selection criteria, it builds credibility and equity, irrespective of the type of award. Applying this framework, I would be a proponent of making awards “class neutral”, irrespective of age, gender, and race contingent upon ensuring that diversity is both encouraged and inculcated in the selection process. In this way, we ensure that the selection pool is comprised of a wide breadth of candidates who are varied in their experience level, perspectives, and career paths.