Don't Just Converge Partner

Oct 1, 2007 12:00 PM, By Robert B. Holm

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I've been in a corporate security role for more than 25 years with five different Fortune 200 companies, and no matter where I've been, corporate security has always partnered well with IT.

A strong relationship between corporate security and IT must be established. I've noticed that using the “c” word — convergence — often puts personnel on the defensive, which makes establishing a relationship very difficult. Human nature is to defend your territory if you sense a challenge. Conversely, if the two functions have a true partnership, built on trust and credibility, synergies will be realized voluntarily.

In my organization, the strong partnership between corporate security and IT helped us recognize that we could mitigate the risk of laptop theft more effectively together than separately. Our mutual interests in preventing laptop thefts allowed us to co-develop an Asset Management Program (AMP).

Typically, when an employee orders or obtains a new laptop, IT gets involved early in the process. Because of our partnership, IT represents our interests by educating the employee on approved methods for securing the laptop. IT personnel also take advantage of this opportunity to educate the employee on other security procedures that are part of the AMP, which benefits both corporate and IT security. Since the rollout of the AMP, awareness has increased dramatically, and reported laptop thefts have been reduced by 90 percent.

The stronger the work relationship, the more we get in return. However, a stronger relationship requires more of a commitment. Too often we confuse activities with results when attempting to build relationships. Inviting your IT colleague on a golf outing doesn't count. You have to roll up your sleeves and educate yourself on their business. Spending time with them and genuinely being interested in their world will ultimately enable you to see opportunities to partner.

Robert B. Holm is vice president of corporate security for the Tribune Company and a member of the Security Executive Council. Before joining Tribune, Holm served more than four years as director/global security at McDonald's Corporation and managed corporate security at Imation Corp. For information about the Security Executive Council, visit

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