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Leading with Vision: A Woman's Journey to Building Valentis

At Valentis, we take immense pride in our identity as a Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB). Today, we are thrilled to share an inspiring interview with our founder and CEO, whose vision and dedication have propelled Valentis to new heights in the security industry.

1. Can you share your journey to founding Valentis and what inspired you to enter the security industry?

In college, I needed a job to pay my rent while attending classes. One of my classmates was a supervisor who needed someone to work weekends, and I took the opportunity. The training was not great, and the expectations were minimal—basically just showing up in uniform, signing people in, and watching a monitor. Despite developing and improving the site's standard operating procedures and helping reconfigure the card key system, I was repeatedly passed over for promotions. I left that job feeling disgusted and disillusioned.

After working for two decades in Corporate America, I found myself working part-time for a small security firm. I started as a fill-in guard and worked my way up to becoming a payroll specialist. Eventually, I became the Administrative Director of the company. When the owners decided to retire, I saw an opportunity to create a better security firm. I gathered a group of colleagues, and we established Valentis, prioritizing training from the very beginning. In the private security industry, employees often receive minimal training before being sent out on the job. I wanted to ensure that when someone wore our uniform, they knew what to do and could confidently handle emergencies.

2. As a woman in the predominantly male-dominated security industry, what unique perspectives do you bring to Valentis and the wider field?

I bring a global perspective to the table. While rules and laws provide clear guidance, the human aspect of the industry necessitates balancing asset security with empathy and diplomacy. My objective is to establish a security company that can implement necessary changes with a fair and decisive approach.

3. What challenges have you faced as a female CEO in the security sector, and how have you overcome them?

One of the most significant challenges I encounter is the presumption of being a subordinate when entering a room. In various meetings, most of the interactions are directed towards the men accompanying me. I employ various strategies to redirect the focus of the meetings, tailoring my approach based on the audience.  At times, I use a touch of humor to steer the conversation, while on other occasions, I find myself sharing my role and title within the organization. Typically, it helps keep the conversation going without coming across as conceited.

4. Valentis is recognized as a Women-Owned Small Business. How does this distinction impact your business operations and client relationships?

The federal, local, and state governments have implemented initiatives aimed at fostering diversity and inclusion within the business community. These efforts present numerous potential benefits for Valentis, including access to government contracts, participation in supplier diversity programs, and eligibility for grants designed specifically for women entrepreneurs. Additionally, both government agencies and private sector firms have set aside contracts for businesses owned by women. By obtaining certification, we have positioned ourselves to take advantage of these opportunities. As a certified Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB), Valentis has significantly enhanced its visibility, enabling us to compete with larger enterprises more effectively.

5. How do you ensure Valentis stays ahead in technology and training, particularly in high-stakes areas like active shooter training and risk management?

The current trend in the security industry is to observe, report, and then call 911. This methodology is woefully behind the times. Valentis is different. We are always looking for better practices and tools. Our training team and senior management are dedicated to ongoing improvement and are determined not to become stagnant. We have taken the lead in a joint initiative to enhance and update our training methods to better suit the demands of today's ever-changing landscape.

One of our best ways to keep up with today’s criminal activity is through scenario-based training. We strongly believe that incorporating real-life simulations into our training greatly improves our employees' ability to perform under pressure. By incorporating simulated exercises and practical scenarios, we can ensure that our employees and clients are well-equipped to handle challenges and obstacles.

Finally, we want to emphasize that we are open to and actively encourage all employees to bring forward any new data or innovative products that have the potential to enhance and improve our operations. We believe that every team member has valuable insights and contributions to offer, and we welcome the opportunity for collaboration and constructive input.

6. What initiatives has Valentis implemented under your leadership to support diversity and inclusion within the workplace?
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Equity, diversity, and inclusion are fundamental for establishing a fair and just society. At Valentis, we are deeply committed to being mindful and empathetic towards the communities and clients we serve.

Valentis is dedicated to upholding the following principles:

  • Ensuring equal access to resources and opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds, regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic status. Through the Cares Community initiative, we aim to consolidate resources in underserved populations to restore confidence in public safety.
  • Enabling the involvement of marginalized communities in decision-making processes and promoting their representation in leadership positions. We encourage our clients and their residents to collaborate with us to enhance the safety of their homes and businesses.
  • Implementing policies and practices aimed at addressing systemic barriers and discrimination, including initiatives focused on diversity and inclusion. We deliver formal training specifically designed to provide impartial service. This is an ongoing process, and through in-person and online training, email communications, and site-specific meetings, we continuously reinforce our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusiveness.

7. Can you share a success story where Valentis's approach to security made a significant difference for a client?

We had a client who wanted us to align our approach with the incumbent company they were trying to cancel. We explained that their service model was costing them more money and proposed our approach, which we believed would yield more dynamic results. They agreed. The results were very favorable for the client and have continued since we started the contract a few years ago. It is not always about how much money you can bring in on a contract. It is about building positive results.

8. Looking ahead, what are your strategic goals for Valentis, and how do you plan to achieve them?

The primary strategic goal for Valentis is our expansion. I fully envision a global reach for Valentis that will encompass a significant portion of the United States and an international presence. I believe in the vision for this company and the services we provide. We are focused on developing careers, and being here right now is a ground-floor opportunity to be part of something different. I believe our management team is only improving. We will continue to look forward to the path that lies ahead with resilience and persistence to reach the goal.

9. What advice would you give to young women aspiring to leadership roles in industries where they are underrepresented?

The pathway to success is inherently challenging. It necessitates the ability to adapt without compromising one's core principles, establishing and upholding personal boundaries, and embracing a perpetual willingness to acquire new knowledge. In doing so, it is essential to discern and accept constructive criticism while remaining mindful that not all advice is beneficial. Securing a knowledgeable mentor to glean insights from is imperative, as is surrounding oneself with a supportive network of friends and family. Fostering self-assurance is crucial; drawing from one's acquired training and education; it is imperative not to undervalue one's own expertise and abilities.

10. How do you balance the demands of being a CEO with your personal life?

Establishing clear time boundaries is essential. While our operations run 24/7/365, I adhere to my designated work hours and prioritize having dedicated downtime. Diligence is commendable, but maintaining constant availability can lead to burnout. Ultimately, I aim to be recognized for my compassionate, dynamic, and empathetic nature rather than as someone constantly tethered to technology.

At Valentis, our CEO’s story is a testament to resilience, innovation, and dedication to excellence. Her leadership has not only positioned Valentis as a leader in the security industry but also as a beacon of diversity and inclusion. Stay tuned for more insights and stories from the heart of our operations.