A Strategic View

By Ann Longmore-Etheridge

Timothy L. Williams, CPP, director of global security for Caterpillar, Inc., sees “greater velocity in change coming about in the next ten years than at any other time in human history.”

As the Society’s 2008 president, Williams will have a role in helping ASIS International steer a steady course through the many changes ahead. But that’s business as usual for Williams, who is an old hand at helping to guide a global company safely into the future.

The ASIS board has already been attentive to the need of future planning. With the help of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, it recently completed a study of “where we are, where we’re heading, and how we’re organized against future possibilities, and how we need to align with the various scenarios that might develop,” Williams notes, adding: “We’ll need to stay as true to the outcome of the report as we can and to align our strategy astutely to keep the Society as healthy and viable as it is today.”

The report of those findings will be released later this month at the Annual Meeting of the Membership at the Volunteer Leadership Conference in Arlington, Virginia.

Williams is not new to leadership at ASIS. He held a place on the ASIS board in the 1990s. He was reelected five years ago, and progressed from the Society’s secretary to its treasurer to its president-elect.

While serving over the past few years, he says, “I came to realize—and the board as a whole did—that one of the things it must do is to move from being a ceremonial board to becoming a business-related board. ASIS is now a business—a $30-plus million business.”

Everyone serving on the board has to remember as well that while members cycle in and out of volunteer leadership positions, the decisions they make will have ramifications long past their terms, says Williams.

Calling the Society “an organization with an extremely broad impact on the security industry,” he says that there are multiple constituencies that ASIS is dealing with, which makes it far more complex than a similar-sized corporation. “We have to make sure that we honor the process, as we would in any company, and that the board doesn’t get involved operationally but focuses on governance and on strategy.”

Path to Protection

Williams was born in central Ohio and then moved with his family to Elyria, southwest of Cleveland, in northern Ohio. “My father worked for Western Union and then for U.S. Steel,” he says. “It was a pretty typical Midwest experience, my growing up.”

When asked what propelled him toward a career in security, Williams explains, “I became, at a young age, involved in the martial arts. This imbued me with a whole consciousness about protecting people, being aware of risks, and developing a more disciplined approach to life.”

Williams was more than just good at martial arts. He taught various forms of self-defense to put himself through the undergraduate program at the University of Cincinnati. He also won a number of national championships and was a member of the U.S. team sent to the first world Tae Kwon Do championships in 1973 in Seoul, South Korea. This six-week trip, undertaken at age 22, “Opened my eyes to international travel,” he says.

After Williams completed his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, he became a police officer in the Cincinnati area. “I started taking training on crimes against women,” he recalls. “I also got involved in the development of the first domestic violence law in Ohio.”

In addition, Williams developed a proclivity for financial-crime investigations and for crime prevention. He attended the National Crime Prevention Institute in Louisville, Kentucky, a four-to-six-week program that dealt with the behavior of people who commit crimes and how to prevent them from doing so.

“I found that to be not only fascinating but hugely ahead of its time,” says Williams. “It was a turning point for me in terms of prevention over reaction, and it taught me that there was a science—a budding science at the time—that could be very, very beneficial across the wide spectrum of criminal justice issues, but also from a corporate security point of view.”

Driven to expand his understanding of business, Williams began coursework toward an M.B.A. “I really wanted to finish it and then maybe go to law school,” he says. However, in 1979, I heard about this job in this new function called ‘corporate security’ at Procter & Gamble (P&G),” he says.



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