Printer Friendly

Paving the way into the '90s.


I DON'T THINK ANYone comes on the board without the question in the back of his or her mind, `Gee, I wonder if I'll ever be selected to be president.' But that was not foremost in my mind," says Lawrence J. (Larry) Howe, CPP, 1990 ASIS President.

"When I was asked, I had not considered myself a strong candidate for president," the Society's 35th leader modestly states. "I'm thrilled and honored by it, but I did not come on the board with that as a goal. Maybe that's been beneficial. I believe in a team concept approach. No organization should be dependent on a single individual for what it does in order to go forward. I feel my role is to act as a catalyst to bring the talent of the rest of the organization to the board to focus on what's going on.

"It isn't me who is going to do something," Howe asserts. "It's going to be us. And I'm very excited about that process."

In the following interview with Security Management, Howe, director of corporate security for Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) in San Diego, CA, candidly discusses his thoughts about ASIS and what he hopes to accomplish during the coming year as he leads the Society into the 1990s.

How did you get into the security field? I applied to the CIA in 1962 and entered through its officer training program. My undergraduate education was in geology. I had a background in photo interpretation. At that time, it was the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I found myself coming into the CIA as a photo interpreter at the tail end. I got into the Cuban Missile Crisis during the stage of verification - that is, when aerial photography was being used to check cargo ships and ensure that the Soviets were, in fact, dismantling missile facilities.

I did that for a while and then was assigned to various training programs. Eventually, I was assigned overseas in a support, general administrative role.

While I was overseas, I became heavily engaged in security support duties and had the opportunity to work with an outstanding officer who was responsible for the agency's security program in Europe. Through my friendship with him - and I considered him a mentor - I returned to the States in a security role and remained in security for the rest of my 15 years with the CIA. In that capacity, I did investigative work and was a polygraph examiner for about five years, both in the United States and overseas.

When did you join SAIC? I left government service to join SAIC in 1978. I had spent my last five years at the CIA as an industrial security officer. I became very enthusiastic about the industrial world and an opportunity opened up at SAIC for a director of corporate security. I have been in that same role for almost 12 years.

It would seem stultifying to think one has been in the same role for 12 years, but it hasn't been. The company has enjoyed enormous growth - in the high 20 percents per year for the last 12 years. The job I have today is nothing like the job when I first came here. The title is the same, but that's about it.

How has your job changed? When I first came on board it was much more of a hands-on job. Today, we have over 200 offices worldwide. My job now is more detached in the sense of a senior manager having to work through a matrix organization to get the job accomplished. I'm further removed from the hands-on these days than I was when I first came to the company.

When did you join ASIS and why? I joined in 1978 when I left the CIA. I was aware of the Society. I had attended some meetings and received Security Management. The nature of my employment with the CIA restricted my membership in organizations and I had looked forward to the opportunity to join ASIS.

Among the things that attracted me to ASIS is what members still say is a high priority for them, and that is networking. While at the CIA, I had developed some contacts through industry, and a large number of people with whom I associated were members of the Society. On that basis alone, I was attracted to the Society.

You served as chairman of the San Diego Chapter in 1984, chairman of the ASIS Standing Committee on Government Security in 1985 and 1986, and in 1987, you were elected to the ASIS Board of Directors. Which of these positions was most rewarding? They are all very different. Each has its own unique rewards and frustrations. Working at the chapter level is extremely rewarding. On the other hand, most of us have some kind of substantive orientation and specialize to some degree. To that extent, working with your peers and making a contribution in a specialized area can also be very rewarding.

But on the whole, I would say my experience on the board has been the most satisfying because you get to see the big picture. You become more aware of the complexity of the Society, and you gain a high degree of respect and regard for the volunteer leaders out there who make the Society work.

How has being an ASIS member benefited you professionally? It has benefited me in a number of ways. My own orientation is strongly grounded - as I indicated in my inaugural remarks at the Annual ASIS Seminar and Exhibits in Nashville - in the belief that this organization was set up to be an educational, self-help organization. It exists for the benefit of the individual member, to enhance that member's professional capabilities. And that's what it has done for me.

As you progress in your career, you find yourself becoming more of a general manager rather than a security specialist. The opportunity to network with other security professionals, who have already made that transition, paves the way. You can pick up ideas and techniques from these people. ASIS is the fertile ground where new ideas and techniques are being formed. As a result, we come together, and the sum is greater than the individual parts. We all bring something to the Society, but we also take something away when we leave.

Volunteering is time-consuming. Why should a member who does not aspire to be elected to the board of directors bother to volunteer? It is an issue of return on investment. What has happened to many of us - and I think I'm speaking for many of the Society's volunteer leaders - is that as we've gotten involved, we find that the satisfaction and the gains in professional expertise and knowledge more than justify the amount of time we're putting into it.

Personally, I find it very satisfying to be associated with a group of people dedicated to performing a service and interested in doing something for other people. When you're around people like that, you're generally around some very positive people. I enjoy the social interaction with people of that caliber.

So, the rewards are there. True, it's a lot of hard work and a lot of hours. There are other things I might do that I'm not able to because I'm involved with ASIS. But that's a conscious decision I've made. As far as I'm concerned, the return on investment justifies it.

What advice would you give to someone who has just joined ASIS? Don't hide. Get out and get involved. There are people who join ASIS who may feel that because they are new to the field they don't have much to offer. They are here primarily to pick up information.

However, what you pick up in the way of information and benefits is in direct proportion to the extent to which you become personally involved. A new member who may not be experienced in the field still comes in with enthusiasm and imagination. You have to get out there and get involved in chapter activities and contribute. In the process of contributing, you'll learn. I know that I have gained management skills by the sheer participation in the Society. If you can learn how to motivate people on a volunteer basis, it's a lot easier to do it when you are in a structured organization.

Being president of ASIS will be time-consuming and demanding. How does SAIC feel about this commitment? SAIC has an open and positive attitude toward employees making contributions beyond the company. The company recognizes that being president of ASIS will take some of my time. While they expect me to put in the maximum amount of effort at SAIC, they also recognize they have to be flexible in regard to my immediate availability. I think they recognize the benefits. I have made it clear to them that because of my involvement with ASIS, I believe I am a more effective security manager for them. So, there is a quid pro quo.

What qualifications do you bring to the position? It's difficult to be objective about yourself. But I think one of those qualifications is that I feel strongly about the team approach. I firmly believe in a participatory management style. That's the way I operate at SAIC, and I think that's the only appropriate style in an organization such as ASIS.

SAIC has a slogan I absolutely and totally believe in and that is that none of us is as smart as all of us. As I have gotten older, I've been knocked around with enough of my own mistakes that I have come to realize anybody who does not seek the active participation and the beneficial contributions of others is making a serious mistake. The openness to have others participate and be involved is what I'm hoping will be a strong characteristic of mine.

What are your three majors goal during your presidency? I'm concerned about the individual member who, for one reason or another, may not attend the annual seminar the exhibits and may not participate in some of our other international events. I want to see that member feel linked somehow to a larger organization outside the chapter. To do this, when working with the regional vice presidents this year, I am going to encourage more interchapter activities and more regional activities so the individual member in the chapter can feel part of something larger.

Another area I'm interested in continuing is our support for the CPP [Certified Protection Professional] program and the ASIS Foundation. Those of us in the profession have gained enormously by the recognition we receive as a result of this profession being recognized as a management art. I feel strongly that the work of the PCB [Professional Certification Board] and the Foundation has a great deal to do with the increased stature we all enjoy in this profession.

In the international area, I think we're going to find ourselves more economically interactive in the coming years. It's going to become essential that as security managers we operate in the international arena more effectively. And what better way to forge the basis for doing that than to capitalize on the structure we already have in the Society of having a set of international members?

What is your platform? I'm going to encourage board members to get out and visit as many chapters as possible so chapters and individuals feel they have access to the international volunteer leadership. In doing that you begin to understand some to the problems from the member's point of view. This interaction will involve getting out and listening to the people, hearing their concerns, and paying attention.

What made you choose that avenue over some of the other issues you could have pursued? I guess it's because SAIC is so enormously spread out. I know I can't be effective in my job if I'm sitting here trying to extrapolate what I think is going on. I've got to get out there, listen to what's going on, and hear from these people to really understand what their needs are. Otherwise, I'm making policy in a vacuum. I learned that a long time ago. So it's probably out of that background.

What is the one biggest frustration you have about ASIS that you would like to change by the end of your term? I think most changes are evolutionary rather than revolutionary. I intend to keep up the direction and momentum the outstanding people ahead of me have already set.

I think members will see some changes - I hope - by the end of the year. As to how measurable they'll be, I'm not sure. I'm thinking of them more as qualitative issues rather than quantitative issues. It's not realistic to think and individual is going to come in and, in one year, turn things totally around. It's a gradual adding on of quality as you go rather than trying to turn the place upside down.

But there are some things I'd like to see changed and improved. ASIS is no different than any other volunteer organization I have ever been associated with. It seems that too small a minority of people carry the load for the majority of the organization. I want to see an expansion of participation. We've got to broaden the base. I want to find ways to bring in new, fresh blood. I want to encourage the new people in the security management field to get involved and give them something to do.

Also, I continue to be concerned about the number of people who are holding back from volunteering for or actively seeking participation on the board. Any perception anybody has that this is a closed organization or that there is some inside track is absolutely mistaken. The board is definitely concerned that we have an influx of new blood, that the members be given a wide range of candidates from which to choose board members. Something I hope can be changed in the coming year is that we can get more people motivated to run for the board of directors.

What are you looking forward to most in serving as president? There are a number of things, most of which I am already enjoying. Mainly, I find it very satisfying to get out and meet the volunteer leaders, work with them, and see some of the work that's going on out there. When you see some of the regional events being put on and attend some of the training courses out there, it is humbling, as it should be.

As president of the organization, you are in the limelight. When you get out to these meetings and see the outstanding work being done by these people, it's a little difficult after that to set yourself up on a pedestal and feel you're doing all the work. You realize a lot of people out there are doing a fine job.

I enjoy seeing the positive things we are doing such as our participation in Operation Cooperation and the National Drug Control Strategy program. I think the Society is making some outstanding contributions to the national welfare. I'm excited to be able to participate and lend leadership to those areas.

On the other hand, what are you looking forward to least as president? I am not looking forward to the frustration of being torn between what I would like to spend my time doing for ASIS and the demands of the rigorous job that I have. There simply are not adequate hours in the day to do a totally credible job on both. It's constantly having to make decisions and let something slip where you don't want to. And that frustration is not something I enjoy.

What is your biggest fear about serving as president? I have several. One of them is failing to be attentive and not having the time or resources to give recognition and credit to all those folks out there who are making enormous contributions. There are a lot of people who deserve more recognition than they are getting. The fear of slighting some of these people is a strong concern of mine. There is also the fear that with time and priority pressures, an opportunity for ASIS will arise, and because I was distracted at the time, I won't act on something that would have been beneficial to the growth and advancement of the Society.

As you leave office at the end of this year, how do you want to be remembered? I'd like to be remembered as a facilitator, as an individual who was approachable, flexible, open to new ideas, and actively sought the wide participation of a lot of people in the entire Society.

Karen K. Addis is assistant editor of Security Management and editor of Dynamics.
COPYRIGHT 1990 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:interview with Larry Howe, 1990 president of the American Society for Industrial Security
Author:Addis, Karen K.
Publication:Security Management
Article Type:interview
Date:Jan 1, 1990
Previous Article:It's 1990 - do you know how liable you are?
Next Article:A tale of two countries.

Related Articles
Diecasters project steady growth for '90s.
SIOR presents awards for deals of the year.
Recruitment strategies for small firms.
On the edge: assessing the violent employee.
Andrew's unwelcome visit.
Fashion victims.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters