Every month RAS has a guest blogger. This month it is Jennifer C. Petersen an Operations and Security Specialist who manages staff safety in large scale operations for development firms and NGOs.
Jennifer has experience with staff and support of projects in Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), Saudi Arabia, South Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey. Jennifer can best be found at – https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennifercpetersen/
RAS managed to catch up with Jennifer at the airport just before she is off again!
Q: Can you give me a brief overview, and why, you do what you do?
A: I plan, direct and coordinate operations. I also have oversight of security and related provisions as well as coordination of crisis response for various project offices. I do what I do because I love working with different cultures, problem solving to mitigate risk and the excitement of constant change.
Q: Given the global context is changing so rapidly, what do you think are biggest challenges in security?
A: Unfortunately, risk exposure is increasing globally which makes it difficult to narrow down the biggest challenge in security right now. I think from a long list, I would have to say geopolitical tensions (US-Iran, China, Mexico, terrorism in the Middle East and Africa, etc) and cybersecurity breaches (artificial intelligence, supercomputing, etc) are the most challenging at this time.
Q: Security professionals are often seen as being big, white ex-military men. What do you think is your biggest asset being a woman in security?
A: Probably that I’m often considered a “non-threat” which is why it’s easier for me to move in certain circles than men.
Q: As part of your role you are often involved with security audits for organisations that you work with. What is the most common mistake you’ve seen made by organisations regarding security?
A: I would say the most common mistake organisations make is not enforcing standard operating procedures (SOPs) or implementing recommendations previously given by security personnel. This is dangerous for everyone – the employees, consultants, company and security professional.
Q: Where is the most exciting place that you been to for international business, and why?
A: Tough question as all places I’ve been to have been exciting in one way or another, but I think Saudi Arabia was exciting for me in a personal way. To get into the country was a process, then as a woman you have further constraints on your movement. I like testing myself, in various scenarios and situations, to be thrown into unfamiliar places and find my way.
Q: Your job means you travel quite a lot of the time. What is the one thing you always take with you when you undertake international business travel?
A: A first aid kit with basic medicine in my carry-on. You never know what and when you’ll need it, especially when traveling to less equipped countries.
Thank you Jennifer for taking time to catch up with us, have a great trip and a dull and uneventful flight.