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Exclusive: John Petruzzi Jnr, 2021 President of ASIS International

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International Security Journal catches up with John Petruzzi, Jr., CPP, the 2021 President of ASIS International.

There has been one, rather newsworthy, change of leadership take place in the USA in recent weeks, with Joe Biden replacing Donald Trump as US President. However, the transition of power that will likely have a more direct impact on many global security professionals has taken place at ASIS International.

In January, John Petruzzi, Jr., CPP replaced Godfried Hendriks, CPP to become the 2021 President of the organisation. Petruzzi currently holds the position of Executive Vice President of the Northeast Region of G4S Secure Solutions NA and Head of Integrated Security Solutions for G4S Americas. After serving in the US military, he made the switch to the private security industry and now boasts a distinguished career spanning more than two decades.

International Security Journal sat down with Petruzzi for an exclusive interview in which he revealed why he decided to embark on a career in private security as well as how ASIS plans to enhance its global footprint during his tenure.

Decision time

There are major choices that need to be made in the career of every professional, no matter what industry they specialise in. For Petruzzi, this choice came when he left the US military and was looking for his next role.

He explained: “I would have to say joining the military is the best decision I’ve ever made, not just the leadership skills I learned but the network and experience it gave me has paid huge dividends for me. When I left, I had all intents and purposes of going into federal law enforcement.

“Then a friend who I served with in the Marines called me and told me about a role in corporate security and the rest, as they say, is history.”

From that first role in the financial services sector, Petruzzi has worked in the energy sector, commercial real estate, telecommunications sector and now in security services with G4S. The path that Petruzzi took from the military to private security is a common story throughout the industry and ASIS International is now looking to encourage more military and law enforcement personnel to make that transition.

The annual Global Security Exchange (GSX) has an ASIS Military/Law Enforcement Appreciation Day which offers free admission to all active-duty law enforcement, military and first responders as well as the ASIS Foundation also providing several scholarship opportunities to military and law enforcement personnel.

Petruzzi added: “I think the challenge that we had in the past was that there weren’t many effective transitional programmes in place, now there are, which is a beautiful thing. We have done two things really well at ASIS over the last decade; one is providing a first career path for young professionals and the other is to produce excellent transitional programmes which typically emanate from our community structure.

“The programmes are focused on raising the level of awareness of what corporate security is actually about, explaining how you can translate your 20 years of experience into something that makes sense for business leaders. Senior professionals care about your leadership skills, your management skills and your attention to detail so these transitional programmes are helping to make the career switch a lot smoother.”

As good as it gets

That path has now taken Petruzzi to the pinnacle of his career so far, the 2021 Presidency of ASIS International. As you can imagine, he is extremely proud: “I have been an active ASIS volunteer for more than 20 years, when your peers then choose you to lead the association, that’s about as good as it gets.

“It’s an enormous responsibility once you consider everything we do but I know we have the right team in place which is definitely quite comforting.”

ASIS International now has more than 34,000 members, boasts more than 250 chapters and members representing 158 nations (80% of all countries). With such a direct influence on the global security industry, Petruzzi is focused on having a positive impact during his time as President.

“There are no individual aims and goals. We have a strategy that the association set a path on which is now in year four of a five-year plan. Once it’s complete, we will assess it and do the same SWOT analysis that every organisation does. The key focus right now is just accentuating the initiatives that are super important, especially in this COVID era.

“One of those is the continued rollout of our communities, where we have moved from a closed concept to open communities which cover 30 subject matter areas (and growing). Individuals just need to sign up and they can consume that information and engage in conversations with peers from across the globe.”

Petruzzi continued: “We are seeing these communities really move the needle for the security profession as they are helping security practitioners to become businesspeople first. The knowledge being shared is helping security professionals to understand how their business drives revenue and how the security function can assist with controlling security risks. This is enabling our members to better inform the business leaders of their security risk and form better relationships. This is the heart of Enterprise Security Risk Management (ESRM).”

Listening to members

One of the consistent strengths of ASIS International has been its global membership and as mentioned previously, the association as of January 2021 has 252 chapters in 87 countries. However, there have been concerns in the past that the organisation’s leadership structure was a little too US-centric. This is no longer the case as ASIS began transitioning to a global governance structure in 2019 and the association recently appointed a Global Board of Directors for 2021.

Joining Petruzzi on the executive committee of this board are Malcolm Smith, CPP; Timothy McCreight, CPP; and, ASIS International CEO, Peter O’Neill, FASAE, CAE. They are accompanied by At- Large Directors from across the globe. This new structure allows ASIS to service its members significantly better at the local, regional and global levels. In addition, ASIS will also be appointing Regional Boards for Europe and North America.

Petruzzi said: “This is a direct result of feedback we have received from our members around the world. Some of the concerns we heard have informed our strategy and decision-making and now we are starting to see the benefits of that.

“When we looked at governance and best practice, we had to consider what our DNA should be so that we could best represent the security profession as a whole. We decided that our DNA should be based around diversity, not just gender diversity but geographic diversity as well.”

He expanded: “The introduction of the North American and European Boards is a big step for the association. I believe that having a Global Board of Directors (with a global mindset) that sets global strategy and policy, which is then complemented by regional boards who culturally understand their respective markets well, will ultimately lead to even better execution of our global strategy and policy around the world.”

Alongside this focus on enhancing the global diversity of the association, ASIS is also continuously driving to reach out to young security professionals. Petruzzi has one clear piece of advice for every security specialist just beginning their career: “Get involved! Get to your local chapter events and spend time with the folk that are there. You are going to broaden your way of thinking and broaden your network.

“When you consider tapping into the resources available at your local chapter or the association, it gives you a very powerful network to lean on. Then once you have time, look into volunteering as the payback you get from that is substantial.”

Given he has enjoyed such a long career in security, it was striking to hear the enthusiasm with which Petruzzi still talks about the industry. There will surely be challenges ahead for ASIS International over the coming year as there will be for every organisation but it will no doubt be a huge benefit for them to be led by a man who has the best interests of the entire industry at heart. That decision to take a job in private security certainly looks like it is paying big dividends to the security profession.

To find out more information about ASIS International, visit: https://www.asisonline.org/

This article was originally published in the February 2021 edition of International Security Journal. Pick up your FREE digital copy here