I believe that leadership is half internal and half environmental. I often argue that my path to leadership was half inherited from my parents combined personalities and half from how they coached me through life; without them I question whether I would be where or who I am today. The most vivid memory I have of developing determination was a particular sailboat race when I was a young eight-year-old girl. I was the only girl, competing amongst older boys in sailboats that were far superior to mine. I struggled through the race course and the boys teased me. I remember sailing into the dock at full sail, tears streaming down my face, and yelling to my dad that I quit. He promptly turned my boat around, pushed me off the dock, and yelled, “Go get them!” I floundered and I cried, but it was a valuable lesson. Anyone who knows me now knows that I learned from this lesson; I don’t like to give up easily, if at all.

My career path has been interesting, starting in high-tech public relations in San Francisco to teaching at a middle school in South Central San Diego. I finally returned to the family security business, leading the company for the last six years through one of the greatest recessions in history. My early sailboat experience propelled me through some difficult times. However, the compassionate educator in me kept me believing in the potential growth and development of our people and my company. Focusing on their success created our success. Even now, I continue to advance more training and further skillset development for all employees.

I discovered there are only a few basic principles in my world that define leadership and success. Stay hopefully optimistic and maintain a positive attitude; take care of your family, company employees, and community; and don’t worry about things that are not essential. Having a sense of humor is also important. It’s vital to turn your boat around and “go get them!”

Has discrimination affected you as a woman in the workplace? How did you deal with it?

Security is a male-dominated field, and I have faced discrimination because of this. One occasion I went to a security conference and was the only female attendee present; when it came time to announce ourselves to the group I was passed over by the speaker. Once everyone was finished I raised my hand to ask why I was skipped and the speaker admitted he thought I was part of the hotel staff. In instances like this, you just have to be confident in yourself and have a sense of humor.