Canadian Security Magazine

Reflections on GSX from the ASIS President

By Tim McCreight   

News Opinion Risk Perspective ASIS International

Tim McCreight

I’m writing this article in the airport as I begin my journey home from ASIS GSX 2023 in Dallas, Tex.

I’ve had an amazing experience as the President of ASIS for 2023 so far, and participating in GSX this year as President has been an honour and a privilege.

It was heartwarming to see there were so many sessions focused on risk, convergence and the concept of resilience.

I saw a shift in how we’re looking at risk events impacting organizations. Security professionals are now turning their attention to enhancing the resilience of their organizations, appreciating that as events unfold, the benefits of reducing impacts and recovering back to normal operations cannot be overstated.

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One of my favourites was focused on a reflection of Enterprise Security Risk Management (ESRM) over this past decade, with panelists who were part of the first wave of security professionals focused on developing a risk-based approach to their security programs. I can’t believe it’s been a decade since the first ESRM publications!

My highlight, though, was the opportunity I was given to interview President George W. Bush on the second day of GSX. It was a once-in- a-lifetime experience to sit on a stage with a former sitting President who led the United States through such historic tragedy and loss. It was not lost on me that, as a Canadian who watched these events unfold some 22 years ago, we had such a different perspective of what occurred that fateful day when America was the target of terrorist acts on their own soil.

I’m going to admit here that I was really nervous! I’ve given a lot of speeches in my career and taught a few classes on risk, ESRM and leadership. But this — well, this was something I was having trouble wrapping my head around!

I worked with the amazing ASIS headquarters team and President Bush’s staff to prepare for the opening session.

On the morning of the event, I got to the session hall early, met the team supporting the President, then waited for a chance to chat with President Bush in advance of our interview. It was a little surreal – a kid (OK, maybe a little older than a kid) from Canada getting ready to talk to a former world leader. No pressure.

Before we got on stage, President Bush shook my hand, grabbed my shoulder, and said, “Let’s have some fun.”

For the next hour, President Bush told us stories of his father, his family and his desire to give back to the American people. He spoke about the horrific events of September 11th, 2001, and how he felt then, and now. He was funny and wise and so very human. He showed us a side of himself that I don’t remember seeing while he was in office. That struck me only after I left the stage – I was busy keeping up with him and his amazing stories to fully appreciate what was said in the moment.

I have a newfound appreciation of what he went through during his presidency, how he had to focus on risk at a global scale, and his belief in the resilience of the American people and democracy across the globe. He began and ended his conversation with a standing ovation — it was so deserved.

President Bush gave me a lesson in humanity, in acceptance, and understanding that even in the face of the most tragic events, you must remain optimistic about the future. I have some homework.

Tim McCreight is vice-president, business development, Canada, at Apollo Information Systems (tim.mccreight@apollo-is.com) and 2023 president of ASIS International.


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