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A conversation with 1993 ASIS President Chad Rea.

CHAD REA, CPP, 1993 president of the American Society for Industrial Security, calls himself a volunteer organization freak. While studying for his master's of administration at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., in 1969, Rea decided to fulfill an assignment by writing a paper on managing a volunteer organization. "He wouldn't let me do it," says Rea of the professor. "His contention was that managing a volunteer organization is not real management. That has stuck in my craw ever since."

Perhaps this setback sparked his passion for volunteerism. Whatever the reason for his climb up the ASIS ladder of volunteer leadership, Rea has made it to the top, and he plans to make the most of it.

The son of a forest ranger, he was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1933. After graduating from the University of New Mexico in 1955 with a degree in chemistry, Rea went into the Air Force. That, however, is not his most vivid memory from those days, he notes. "Just before my senior year, |Nancy and I~ got married--in September of 1954," explains Rea. "In June we had our first little baby, the first of six children."

During his service, Rea was stationed in New Mexico; Washington, D.C.; Alabama; Maryland; Connecticut; Puerto Rico; Taiwan; Japan; and Korea. His security career blossomed. "I was with an investigative organization throughout," he says. "I was with the Air Force OSI |Office of Special Investigations~ and with Defense Investigative Service."

Rea stayed in the Air Force nearly twenty-four years, even though he had promised his wife that he would not make a career out of it. But as he says, "Things happen." Rea adds that Nancy was a great supporter during the Air Force years and her enthusiastic support of him and his involvement in ASIS is what makes it all possible.

While preparing to leave the service in April 1979, Rea heard about an opening for chief of security at GE Aircraft Engines in Cincinnati, Ohio. He applied for employment and got it. Perhaps Rea got more than a job when he took over the position; it seems to be charmed. He is the fourth ASIS president to have worked for GE.

Rea has been in the same job since he left the military, but it has grown considerably. Originally he was responsible for only half of the group's aircraft engine business. Over the last five years he has been given responsibility for the whole group. Rea now has a staff of approximately 120 people and a budget of $8 million.

At the same time Rea became a civilian he became an ASIS member. He says membership has benefited him in subtle ways. "You don't get big rewards out of networking," he explains, "but if you can call up somebody in some far-off city and get just a little door to open, that's all you need. It's the kind of thing you can't buy. No amount of purchasing of services, of consultants...can do that."

Since becoming a member, Rea has worked his way up through the ranks. He has served as chapter chairman of the Cincinnati Tri-State Chapter (1983), regional vice president (1985 and 1986), chairman of the ASIS Standing Committee on Substance Abuse (1982), on the Foundation Board (1988 to present), on the ASIS Board of Directors (1988 to present), and on the ASIS Executive Committee (1991 to present).

Those experiences will help his presidency. "We have two streams of leadership in the Society," Rea says. "There's a committee stream and the chapter and regional stream. I feel very fortunate to have been in both of those.

"The standing committees and councils really do a whole lot of what is quietly done to put on the major education programs, and all of the programs at the seminar and exhibits are put on by the standing committees and councils. They provide the test questions for the CPP exam. They stimulate articles and write articles for Dynamics and Security Management," Rea says.

The chapters are responsible for mustering enthusiasm at a grass-roots level. "You're in very close touch with the local membership," he says. "You've got to nurture them. You've got to work with them. You've got to get them enthused, get them out to meetings. It's very personal. It's a super important part of this whole thing. It is the foundation on which we build."

Chapter activity is hard but rewarding work, notes Rea. "I certainly have empathy for the chapter officers and how tough |their job~ is," he explains. "I've learned more...being a chapter officer and being a Boy Scout |troop~ leader about how to motivate people than in any military course I've taken or any university course."

REA HAS THREE GOALS FOR HIS PRESIdency and specific ideas about how to achieve them. His first goal is to teach the membership about quality, continuous improvement, and total quality management.

"In early March at our plant in Cincinnati I'm going to have in forty or forty-five of the volunteer leaders of the Society for the two-and-a-half day GE continuous improvement course. The idea being that others may replicate the program. GE has its own facilities and its own instructors. We'll bring in a panel of security people who are involved in continuous professional improvement.

"I've also got a committee exploring how to put on a real honest-to-goodness symposium on total quality management. There are those who say that it will take two or three years to organize.

If that's the case, that's fine," adds Rea. "We've got a time line, and we can get started. The idea is to tell the quality story using security examples and security successes. We've got so many stories that are not told."

Rea has set up another committee to coordinate activities that will help the volunteer leaders teach the membership about total quality management. Rea hopes this committee will act as a resource group to regional vice presidents and standing committee and council members.

As his predecessors have done, Rea plans to expand the Society's base by reaching out to international members and trying harder to fulfill their needs. "I'm looking to...really and truly make this a more international organization. Specifically to that end making appointments of a prominent security personage in Europe and one in Canada, and perhaps elsewhere, to promote the establishment of subcommittees to the standing committees," explains Rea. "I think we need to have somebody out there promoting, coordinating, facilitating, and working with the chairs of the standing committees.

"If we set up standing committees and subcommittees in Europe, Canada, down under, in the Far East, wherever, they can tackle problems that are unique to these areas," Rea continues.

He has also asked all the committee chairs to examine their charters and decide if they are written as if the committees were strictly U.S. entities. As in the case of the ASIS Standing Committee on Government Security, it may be appropriate. But, according to Rea, many of the committees may need to expand their focus to get more international participation.

"This should make them not only feel a part of the organization but be |a part of it~," Rea continues. "This is real. It's not lip service. It's fulfilling needs, and it's actions."

Rea's third goal is to recruit new members on both an international and chapter level. "One of the challenges is to international corporate security guys," he explains, "to take an inventory of their membership. Look in the back of the ASIS Dynamics directory where all the organizations are listed by country.

"Take Mobil Oil. Mobil has got a tremendous amount of security presence all around the world," Rea continues. "It has members in Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, London, all over. Other organizations have very, very little representation of security people around the world, and I suspect that there are security professionals from a lot of U.S. multinational companies that don't belong. My challenge to them is to bring them into the fold. We did a shake of our own trees at GE and found one guy in Paris, one guy in Budapest, and one guy in Turkey."

If a chapter wants to increase its membership, Rea suggests it analyze its membership. "Let's say you've got six major hospitals in your town and there's representation from three of them," he explains. The chapter should then make sure that someone approaches the three who haven't joined.

"We can push for new members without diluting our quality," explains Rea. "There are prominent security people all over the world who are not members."

Rea thinks the ASIS Foundation could be improved if more were done to educate the Society's membership about the Foundation's purpose. "I'd like somehow to stimulate more research," says the ASIS president. "To do this we've got to continue to promote the idea and the purpose and the mission of the Foundation. Surveys show that people clearly don't understand, don't know about it, haven't heard about it."

As for the annual seminar, Rea thinks the Society hit a new high this year. He congratulates the committees and councils for outstanding educational programs, but he particularly enjoyed the evening activities, such as the President's Reception and the Foundation Dinner. "These aren't the main reasons for attending," he says, "but the memory, the recall, is 'I learned a lot' flavored by 'and I had a helluva good time.'"

Throughout his security career, Rea has seen the profession evolve. Specifically, he notes that the quality of the management capabilities has improved. He says the education of people coming into the profession is changing. Backgrounds other than law enforcement and the military are now acceptable. "I think that's very positive," he says. "A college education is to learn how to think. The arts and literature teach you to think and write and speak. The people that are...going into security positions where they're running departments, they're well educated."

Rea also commented on the increased use of automation and electronics for access and surveillance. "Security is certainly becoming more technical, and we're seeing more outsourcing," he says.

According to Rea, the current global economic slowdown will challenge security professionals to convince management of their value to the company. Security always seems to be one of the first departments to have its budget cut, he says. "We need to...learn how to articulate what we do and sell," stresses Rea. "We've got to show how we positively affect the bottom line. We have to learn to speak the language of business better."

As ASIS's new president, Rea has a message for the membership. "Get involved," he urges. "You'll get out of it more than whatever you put in. The more I'm around, the more I recognize this very basic truth. It may sound trite, but it is true. In anything you do you get more back than you put in."

Lisa Arbetter is editorial assistant at Security Management.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:American Society for Industrial Security
Author:Arbetter, Lisa
Publication:Security Management
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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