Guest Post: Real Solutions for Real Business Problems

Melissa Maddox by Melissa Maddox | 05.17.2012

StandardAero is one of the world's largest independent aviation service businesses.

Melissa is Vice President of Legal Risk Management at StandardAero. She recently implemented a comprehensive aviation Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) security program, which was approved by the Department of Homeland Security and has been used as a model for aviation MRO security.

Security, like many functions, is a cost center. How do we support the strategic objectives of our stakeholders and add value to our organization year over year? We no longer just protect people, property and information, but must align ourselves as business professionals who specialize in security. We must find ways to use our expertise to drive good business. As security professionals, we are expected to keep up with ever-evolving threats and ever-changing technology. As businesspeople, we must be solution-minded and continue to add value in the same ways the operating teams do – driving revenue, operational excellence, cost reductions; improving our competitive position and customer satisfaction.

How do we do that? I’m constantly trying to answer that question. My team and I constantly look for opportunities in all of our risk functions, including security. I found one way to add value by solving a security issue threatening our business.

I work for a global aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul company. Our customers HATED the physical escorting practice we began in 2008 after a directive from DHS. I wasn’t happy with it either since it cost resources, angered customers and was cumbersome. Furthermore, nearly 40% of our customers vowed to take their business elsewhere! Think security is unpopular in your company? Try running off half your customers!

First Things First: A Customer’s Point of View
I started trying to understand our customers. Surely I could come up with something that could satisfy them and protect our operations areas. I advised the business teams to “sell” the idea that aircraft was more secure under the physical escort practice, but I learned that our customers felt it was their job to protect the aircraft. I learned that they felt we distrusted them. Our customers wanted to help the maintenance crew; they wanted to see the guts of the aircraft and be an additional quality check before we buttoned up their baby. So to satisfy everyone involved, the solution had to be 1) equal to the preventative qualities of physical escorting, 2) invisible to the customer, and 3) operationally seamless. How hard could that be?

I remembered seeing the RFID tracking technology used for equipment which displayed its position with a dot on a screen, and I set out to find someone to turn that alert into an actual video feed.  And our Electronic Escort (eEscort) was born. With the help of our VP Supply Chain, James Colleary and security advisor, Mark Pickett of ABET Alliance, LLC, we found a company – Security 101 – that agreed to try our idea using Honeywell’s Pro-Watch® integrated security system. And then we convinced DHS that with a solid response plan, eEscort was an effective monitoring tool. You can read the case study to see how it worked.

Real Solutions for Real Business Problems
I’m not really a security expert, but I love business and try hard to be a solution provider. eEscort is one example of using the expertise of a network of professionals to execute on real solutions for real business problems and promote (or preserve) business.

I often take off my ‘risk management’ hat and stick my nose in other functions—because there’s risk everywhere, right? One time I was asked, “Aren’t you a SECURITY person?” and my response was, “I’m a business person, with security experience.” Will that be your response?  How will you use security to add value to your organization?