YARMOUTH, Maine—Shawn Ruddo challenges other women in the security industry to get involved with an initiative that helps support women’s growth.

“By supporting women in security, we create a wave of empowerment and opportunity,” said Ruddo, chief solutions officer for Unlimited Technology (UT), a systems integrator that provides end-to-end technology solutions with a focus on complex IT, electronic, physical and cybersecurity. “Let’s be that change.”

As part of Security Systems News’ and the SIA Women in Security Forum’s continuing series highlighting the contributions of women in security, the following is an exclusive Q&A with Ruddo.

SSN: What are your current roles and responsibilities?

Ruddo: On the service side, our focus is solely on supporting our customers. We engage early with clients to understand their needs, develop a comprehensive and customized program, and then strive to out-deliver on those commitments. Because our level of support is so unique, we branded our service and support program as “S.H.I.E.L.D.,” which stands for Supporting, Helping, Informing, Enhancing, Listening and Delivering.

On the engineering side, our focus is ensuring that we have the expertise in-house to deliver the solutions we proposed to our clients. This team does a little bit of everything – from product evaluation to system design and specification – to system commissioning and advanced technical support. Out of my 23 years in the industry, this talented team is one of the best I have seen in my career.

SSN: What has your journey been like in a male-dominated industry?

Ruddo: When I speak with other women, I feel like I have a different experience in the industry. There have certainly been times when I felt like I had to put in twice the work to be considered or recognized. And there have been other times when I felt like an outsider, not part of the “good ol’ boys club.”

When I started my career, those things were more noticeable than today as the industry has matured. I’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity to work with so many supportive people. Perhaps this is because I have been in the same company for 14 years, so inevitably your contributions shine through, especially with an inclusive leadership team. Nevertheless, we are far from solving the diversity problem in this industry.

SSN: What does the security industry need to consider when addressing diversity?

Ruddo: So many of our industry professionals today have grown up in the industry. It isn’t uncommon for you to meet someone whose brother, son, and sometimes daughter work in the industry. We need to be open to transitioning that knowledge to the next generation that will be responsible for where the industry goes from here. That resource pool includes many women who, if given the chance, can and will have a significant impact.

SSN: What do you feel are the top trends in the security industry today?

Ruddo: The security and IT industries continue to collide. We are seeing more IT teams involved in the decisions around the systems and architectures selected. The industry struggled for years to get both of those stakeholders to the table, but now it is becoming the norm.