On Monday night, throngs of attendees were unleashed on Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida, at the ASIS President’s Reception, sponsored by AlliedBarton Security Services (Booth #2601). Upon entering the park, attendees could hear the violent mechanical roar of The Incredible Hulk Coaster as it rushed by with its screaming cargo. Everywhere you turned, cell phone cameras snapped as attendees made their way through the theme park’s six islands picking up food and libations along the way.
“I’m having a blast,” said Rhett Weddell of SecTek, walking over the bridge entering The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. “The President’s Reception is not to be missed.” Weddell came to the seminar this year for three things: technology, education, and networking. Behind him, people crowded around the Butter Beer stand. Others made their way into Hogwart’s Castle to get on the island’s signature attraction, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which takes riders into the world of Harry Potter as seen on film and in readers’ imaginations.
Tanawah Downing, CPP, said he loves the President’s Reception because ASIS makes it family friendly. This year he brought his wife and his three kids. Downing says it’s the networking that brings him to seminar every year. “I meet a lot of people I eventually work with,” he said, as his little boy tugged at his pant leg. These partnerships help him stay successful, he said.
Walking the massive theme park, you could overhear adults temporarily become children. “You want to go on Harry Potter?” a woman asked a group of veteran security professionals surrounding her. “You don’t get wet. You won’t get wet,” she said emphatically. Other guests stopped in Toon Lagoon to shoot one-in-wins basketball, squirt water guns, and smash down sledgehammers to prove who was truly the strongest person in the group.
Standing alone gazing up at The Incredible Hulk Coaster, Johan D. du Plooy, CPP, said he was deciding whether or not to take his chances on the rollercoaster. “It’s a great function as always,” he said, taking his eyes away from the roller coaster to praise the reception.
“The President’s Reception is ASIS International’s way of rewarding the attendees with relaxation after a long day of educational sessions and walking the exhibit floor,” ASIS International CEO Michael J. Stack said.
On the island of Jurassic Park, high-level security professionals gathered at the CSO Roundtable’s private party in the Discovery Center. Many spoke about the future of ASIS International and the value it brings to their careers.
Bryn Palena, chair of the Young Professionals Task Force, said she was thankful that the Society has given its young and ambitious members a seat at the table to build programs they value. While the Society has traditionally been focused on physical security, Palena said young security professionals have another virtual world to secure. Cybercrime, cyberattacks, and social networking are just some of the issues they worry about.
Another member mingling at the CSO Roundtable party was Natalie Runyon, a founding member of the ASIS Women in Security Group. Created to help women interested in reaching the heights of the security profession, the group provides female members the mentoring and networking they need to take the next steps in their career. Runyon said she and other woman at the Seminar and Exhibits prove that the perception of the security industry as a boy’s club is antiquated. Today companies care more about an individual’s intelligence and drive. “What really matters is what an individual brings to the table,” she said.
Lt. Gen. Guy Swan III, CPP, commanding general at U.S. Army North, said the Seminar and Exhibits and events like the President’s Reception help security from both the public and private sectors further join forces to prevent terrorism and crime. “I’ve talked with a number of industry officials here tonight about how the skill, the credibility, the knowledge in the private sector is something we need on the government side,” he said.
Swan said private and public security are putting more faith in each other rather than looking skeptically at each other. “It’s happening already,” he said. “I’m an example of that.”
Only a day into the Seminar and Exhibits, ASIS CEO Stack took a second to evaluate not only the show, but the future of ASIS International. “I think we’ve attracted a wide variety of high level security professionals to the program this year, I think more than we’ve ever seen before,” Stack said. “The fact that we attracted [Homeland Security Secretary] Janet Napolitano to do a presentation at the Wednesday luncheon indicates that we’re on the right track in terms of what we’re communicating to the members, to the industry, and to the federal government at large.”