Canadian Security Magazine

Introducing the CS Honours award winners

Neil Sutton   

Features Public Sector cs honours

Canadian Security magazine recognizes three professionals who are helping to transform the industry through leadership, education and volunteerism

The third annual Canadian Security Honours event had a different look this year. Our usual lunchtime gala in Toronto became a virtual event. As is customary, we acknowledged outstanding security leaders, but they joined us via webcam rather than in-person.

Like so many meetings, conferences and seminars in recent months, CS Honours moved online by necessity, but that did not reduce the impact of the awards or the enthusiasm of the winners and their supporters. On the contrary, virtual events allow people to visit conferences that might otherwise have been difficult or impossible to attend.

This year’s winners are: Sherri Ireland (Community Leader), Josh Darby MacLellan (Emerging Leader) and Kevin Murphy (Lifetime Achievement award). The event was supported by sponsors Axis Communications, Everbridge and GardaWorld.

If you missed the live event on Oct. 1, you can now find all the sessions available on demand.


Community leader: Sherri Ireland

Sherri Ireland

Sherri Ireland has found mentors in her career and been a mentor to many.Ireland’s early interest in becoming a police officer turned to thoughts of security while she was attending Fleming College in Peterborough, Ont. “After doing research, I became more interested in the prevention side than police enforcement,” she says.

Ireland’s first job upon graduation was as a security guard at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum. There she met Janet Banks, the ROM’s security director, and discovered a mentor. “I had a female role model in the security industry, which was even more rare then than it is now,” says Ireland.

Ireland was promoted to security supervisor, managing a staff of 80. When Banks left the ROM to start her own business, Ireland joined her, working as a private investigator. Her next step was a move to Intercon Security, in supervisory roles at the company’s alarm monitoring station. She became service manager in 1998, helping to take the business through the technical challenges presented by Y2K and the new millennium. She then worked with a financial services client, rolling out a large security systems upgrade in 1,400 branches across Canada.

Intercon went through a number of major transitions and corporate owners during Ireland’s tenure at the company. Intercon’s U.S. parent sold its security divisions to ADT/Tyco. Under Tyco, Ireland took on a general manager role and was responsible for integrating SimplexGrinnell into Tyco’s fire and security business in Canada. To anyone currently working at a company transitioning through a major merger, Ireland’s recommendation is to “just absorb and learn as much as you can. It will certainly benefit you moving forward.”

Ireland left Tyco to start her own consulting business, working with a U.S.-based central station operation, and commuting back and forth from Ontario. “After doing that, I decided I really liked working for myself,” says Ireland. She founded Security Exclusive in 2015.

She holds the titles of founder and president but “I’m basically wearing three hats,” running the company as recruiting, consulting and cyber-awareness training businesses.Throughout her career, Ireland has returned to Fleming, her alma mater, repeatedly. She was invited by Nancy Newton, the coordinator of the protection, security and investigations program, to speak to students, along with fellow professionals Lina Tsakiris, Silvia Fraser and Judy Shulga. Ireland says she was subsequently asked if she would be interested in developing a project management course. When she agreed, she was asked if she wanted to teach it.

Ireland says she was well supported by her employer at the time, Tyco, as she pursued her part-time teaching career, which continues to this day. (Ireland also filled in as interim coordinator for a year when Newton passed away in 2017 after a battle with cancer.)

“I like to work with people and I’m able to recognize their talents — sometimes they don’t even realize that they have those talents — and be able to look at opportunities for them. That’s what really motivated me to teach,” says Ireland.

Ireland is also active in security associations, currently serving as vice-chair for the Toronto Chapter of ASIS International. She also recently joined the Canadian Security Lifesaver Association, which acknowledges the incredible work that frontline security professionals do in keeping the public safe (Canadian Security is the official media partner of the CSLA). Ireland has also volunteered on several occasions with Canadian Security’s Career Expo, held annually in March, serving as a mentor to the security students who attend.

For Ireland, all of this is an affirmation that security is not only a viable career choice, but one that offers rewarding experiences and good salaries, and fosters a strong community mentality. That community has only grown stronger over the years, observes Ireland. “I know many people across Canada and the U.S. and even globally that if I needed help or had a question, I can just send an email or [make] a phone call,” she says. “People jump up to help their colleagues. That’s what I’ve really, really appreciated about this industry. We can be competitors one day and still help each other out that same day.”

Emerging Leader: Josh Darby MacLellan

Josh Darby MacLellan

For Josh Darby MacLellan, security may be a career choice, but it’s also one of the basic building blocks of human existence.

“What initially sparked my interest in security is… it is an indisputable fact that humans need security if they ever want to enjoy any kind of quality of life,” says Darby MacLellan, who points out that security is situated right above food, water and shelter in Abraham Maslow’s classic Hierarchy of Needs pyramid (above that are love, esteem and self-actualization).

“There is a huge imbalance in the security people enjoy. Too many of us don’t enjoy enough security; few of us enjoy what should be a universal standard,” he says. “Those were the kinds of principles that motivated me and drew me in.”

Darby MacLellan moved from his native U.K. to Canada in 2015 as part of a continuing studies program while he pursued a double Master’s degree in political science, specializing in security studies.

Enrolled in the University of Waterloo’s School of International Affairs, Darby MacLellan was able to take advantage of a co-op threat intelligence analyst placement at a financial institution, which, he says, provided an ideal transition into the private sector and the world of professional security.

“Not having that co-op would have made my transition into the professional world far more challenging and far more daunting,” he says. “And I really do empathize with those who haven’t done a co-op or internship and are intending to embark on their career.”

Darby MacLellan’s next goal was to take his international education and corporate security experience and transition into a cybersecurity role — something that required a great deal of legwork, knowledge-gathering and networking on Darby MacLellan’s part. (Darby MacLellan describes in detail how he was able to accomplish this in his article “Meeting the cyberskills challenge,” which was published in the summer issue of Canadian Security.)

A big part of Darby MacLellan’s career journey is his focus on networking through volunteering for associations like ASIS International. Darby MacLellan says he was encouraged by his managers to get involved in the larger security community, particularly through ASIS involvement. His first major experience with the organization came at its annual Global Security Exchange (GSX) conference in 2018, which was held in Las Vegas.

He joined ASIS’s Young Professionals (YP) Council and took on two roles: YP Committee Chairperson at the ASIS Toronto chapter and also Assistant Regional Vice President representing YPs across Canada. Volunteerism is all about demonstrating your level of engagement and willingness to participate, says Darby MacLellan. “They will assess your enthusiasm and ask if you’re interested,” he says, which quickly led to his dual YP roles.

“There wasn’t anything special about my approach, or unique about me… it’s something that I think anyone can do,” he adds. “It just comes down to networking and communicating and the desire to get more involved with different volunteering opportunities out there.”

Darby MacLellan also began attending (ISC)² Toronto chapter meetings about a year ago and joined the organization’s communications committee.The importance of networking cannot be over-emphasized, he says, since it leads to career and life-expanding opportunities. The catch-22 for many young professionals comes when they try to advance their careers into managerial roles, he says. Companies looking to fill vacancies want to see candidates arrive at a job interview armed with managerial experience, but that experience often only comes from actually doing the job.Volunteering with associations is one way to gain that valuable experience, notes Darby MacLellan.

“That’s another tangible takeaway from ASIS. It allows you to have your first professional experience of managing and leading teams. I think that has huge transferable skills,” he says. “I know that when I start to apply to management positions, I’ll be able to draw upon all of that experience.”

In addition to the professional opportunities volunteerism generates, he says he has also formed some close friendships. “I’m very grateful for that.”Darby MacLellan was also among the first group of security professionals to earn ASIS’s Associate Protection Professional (APP) designation, which was introduced last year. His next goal is to attain the (ISC)² Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) designation.

The pandemic has put a bit of damper on Darby MacLellan’s networking and engagement, but he has adapted by taking those opportunities online. He has since moved his coffee meetings to “e-coffees,” which has its upside, he says: the coffees are cheaper and the travel-time is non-existent. “You can get a lot more done in terms of having conversations with people.”

Lifetime Achievement: Kevin Murphy

Kevin Murphy

Kevin Murphy’s security career began as a part-time job at the age of 20.

He started working as a security guard in 1975 at Garden City Raceway (then a Woodbine property) in St Catharines, Ont. “I thought, maybe I’ll give it a try, and if it doesn’t work, I can go back to school,” says Murphy. Forty-five years later, Murphy recently retired from Woodbine Entertainment as the company’s director of health and safety.

After his first year as a guard, his boss asked him if he was interested in becoming a supervisor. “Every three or four years, I would change positions within the company and take on more responsibility. I never did go back to school,” says Murphy.

Murphy moved into investigations, took on a position as a division manager and other managerial roles followed. In 1987, he became the security chief for the standardbred division. In 1995, the standardbred and thoroughbred divisions merged with Murphy as senior security manager. He was appointed security director of Woodbine Entertainment in 2007.

At Woodbine, his lifestyle became an itinerant one, working at the major horseracing facilities across southern Ontario. “As a racetrack, it was like a travelling roadshow,” explains Murphy. “We’d run the races in one city for six or seven weeks, then we’d pack everything up, including the office furniture, and move to another city. At the end of that eight weeks, we’d pack up and move back. In the standardbred division, we went between St Catharines, Campbellville and Toronto. We moved six times a year.”

Within the horse-racing business, there are two major factions at play, says Murphy: the public that comes to see the racing and the racing itself. “One was the consumer side, one was the production side, if you want to think of it in those terms,” says Murphy. “The horses, the trainers, the drivers, the owners — it’s a small community all of its own,” he says. “All the horses are stabled there; all the people are there. They travelled with you track to track.”

The challenges of the job and the relationships he was able to form through his increasing familiarity with the sport is what kept it interesting for him, says Murphy. “It’s sort of a parallel to the Leafs or the Raptors. You get involved with the athletes and get an appreciation for what they do.

“We’d see each other every day and we got to build a relationship where [I could say] ‘I’m here to help you. I’m not here to tell you what you can’t do or tell you how to train your horses. If there’s anything I can do to help you out, let me know.’”

Murphy’s influence expanded outside the horse-racing community and into the broader security sphere when he joined the Canadian Society for Industrial Security in the late 1990s.

There, he met like-minded senior security leaders who were interested in professionalizing the industry and sharing best practices. Security itself was changing, says Murphy, as technology began to play a much larger role in how it was practiced.

Joining CSIS “came from a recognition that the business at Woodbine was going to change. We were going to get slots at the racetracks and we had to improve camera systems and access control and changing the way our facilities operate from eight hours a day, five days a week to a 24x7x365 operation,” says Murphy.As he attended monthly meetings, Murphy says he learned from fellow professionals such as Graham Ospreay, Jim Maddin, Mike Ferguson, Martin Green and Bob Marentette. (Marentette was Canadian Security’s Lifetime Achievement award winner in 2019.)

Murphy joined the CSIS board in 2003, and became the organization’s chairman and president in 2006.

He also joined the Organization of Racing Investigators, an international group of security professionals working in the horse-racing industry. Most of the members are American, says Murphy, but the organization also draws membership from Canada, Australia, Ireland and Jamaica. The group has a keen focus on the integrity of the sport and takes an active role in the safety of the jockeys and drivers, says Murphy, who served a term as its chairman in 2013. Murphy has also served on advisory committees for security programs at Conestoga and Sheridan colleges.

Murphy took a medical leave of absence from Woodbine in 2018 and his colleague at Woodbine, Robin Soobramanie, took on the security director role in his absence. When Murphy returned seven months later, he was offered the position of director of health and safety and became responsible for a diversity of requirements, including food safety, fire safety and emergency management.

“My boss at the time said, ‘I would like you to take this thing on, and make people more aware,’” says Murphy. “I was tasked with building that team and building more awareness around the company to health and safety concerns.”

Now retired, Murphy says he has followed two paths: the daily responsibilities he met during his 45 years at Woodbine and the outside engagement that brought him networking opportunities, collegial relationships and the pursuit of professionalization and education for others in the security industry. “I think I had two careers,” observes Murphy. “Both were quite fulfilling.”

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