Canadian Security Magazine

Q&A: Mark Folmer, ASIS International

Neil Sutton   

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Mark Folmer recently took over as Senior Regional Vice President, Group 6 (Canada), ASIS International, replacing Bill Bradshaw, who stepped down to focus on his family — although rumours of his retirement from the position may be somewhat exaggerated. Folmer says Bradshaw will still be available to help out with ASIS duties when needed.

Folmer has been involved with ASIS in Canada for the better part of two decades, volunteering for both the Vancouver and Calgary chapters when he lived out west, and more recently for the Montreal chapter, as vice-chair and chair. Prior to accepting the top spot in Canada for ASIS, he was regional vice-president for region 6A, which encompasses Quebec and the Maritimes.

Professionally, his security resume includes consulting firm BECQ Group, Bell Canada and most recently Tracktik, a Montreal-based Security Workforce Management software provider. He also teaches security courses at Université de Montréal. Canadian Security recently spoke to Folmer about his involvement with ASIS International and plans for its continued development in Canada.

Canadian Security: What are your priorities for ASIS in Canada?

Mark Folmer: I became member number 97, so it’s been a while — going on 20 years. As for the next three years, I think continued growth is going to be a big one for us. The industry is still very segmented, and it’s province by province. The more that we can bring everyone together and have some stability within ASIS and gain engagement, that will definitely help. There are some smaller chapters. I think that as that growth goes on, it will keep people moving in the same direction. Each region will have its own specific thing that they want to do — to take advantage of the national reach but with a local focus.
One of our battle horses has been the French language for some of the certifications. In spite of that, I think there are about 20 CPPs in the province [of Quebec] but obviously there would be a lot more if it was available in French.


CS: Where is there room for improvement?

MF: In terms of other goals, being a little more active communication-wise. I think even ASIS members in Canada don’t realize there’s a Region 6 leadership team (which also includes Jean-Charles Gris, Bill VanRyswyk and Darryl Polowaniuk). There’s an ASIS Canada website that was traditionally only used for Canada Night, so I think we can be a little bit more formal in how we communicate and try to impact more than just ASIS members. This is maybe a bit more of a lofty goal, and not in the short term category, but to try to be a little bit more of a voice of security in Canada — fighting that [perception] that it’s an American industry association and accepting the fact that it’s an international security association.

CS: ASIS recently identified cyber as a major and growing element of physical security. How does that relate to your experience of ASIS in Canada?

MF: I think that they nailed it in terms of the rise of cyber and security technology as a whole. Being with a software company [Tracktik], we see that and we preach that every day. When I first started in the security industry 20 years ago, there were the security guard people and the security technology people. People weren’t even speaking about information security or cyber security. Slowly but surely, the guard people and the camera people, and so on, started coming closer and closer together and they called that convergence. That’s fully happened and they just refer to that as physical security today. And also with the change of the “traditional” security person — it used to be that you’re an ex-police officer or ex-military or ex-whatever and in your post-service career, you go and work with a security company or you start one. It still happens today, but I think there are also people who set out to go into the security side. You see that more and more with university programs.

There’s no clear path to becoming a security manager. There’s not a single way to do it, which in some cases is OK, but in other cases it takes away from the industry, in terms of not being a clear way to get to the end goal.

CS: What do you think ASIS’s goals should be?

MF: I think more membership is going to be a by-product of leadership. If ASIS can keep going with the focus on the enterprise security management type of model, I think that they will bring together more industry associations. One of the things that we did here in Montreal for nearly every chapter event was to invite other associations and say, we’re talking about physical, but that overlaps information security. I’m hoping what I’ll bring to ASIS leadership, along with the other folks that are doing volunteer work, is “be inclusive.” I don’t claim to know the ins and outs of information security, but there’s definitely some overlaps. We’ll hopefully see that manifest itself in having industry associations working closer and closer together.

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