Vashtie, Innovative Security Technologies, Trinidad & Tobago
I am Vashtie. I’m 55 years of age and have been working with Innovative Security Technologies Ltd for the past 24 years. I started off in the company as a Woman Security Officer and I’m currently Woman Superintendent, the most Senior Officer in rank. I have held Managerial Positions such as Sergeant – Admin, Administrative Manager, and Operations Manager, and for the past 11 years to the present holds the position Manager – Support Services.
After being removed from College into matrimony at the age 15 due to tradition, I really needed a job after my divorce. My career started when I applied for a job at Innovative Security in June of 1997, and was given an opportunity that I never regretted. Though shameful in the beginning to be a security officer, I grew to love my job and took my position seriously. Apart from working as a Security Officer, I returned to school, pursuing tertiary level education and graduated with an Associate Degree in Security Management, and a Master of Science Degree in Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Innovation. I obtained a number of other certificates in short courses to enhance my skills. I hold firm to a statement made to me by one of my past mentors that “No amount of academic qualifications can take the place of experience” And that is what I have today, 24 years of experience in the Security Field that will always hold precedence over any certificate.
A normal day for me starts at 4:00 am, and begin work at the office at 6:00 am from Monday to Friday. I am responsible for the company’s stock inventory which comprises of uniform items to be issued to existing officers and new recruits, managing resources ensure that every single officer is outfitted with uniforms and PPE and that they receive annual renewals. This also entails sourcing the right supplier and maintaining a budget for cost control. I am also responsible for the communication system in the Operations Department. In addition to this, I am also responsible for the process and procedure to prepare officers for Precept, liaising with the Police Department which includes preparing officers to be trained before obtaining a Firearm License. I am also the person responsible for Document Control for ISO 2015 using ISOXpress. There are many other type responsibilities that occur on a day to day and month to month basis. I also lecture to new recruits and quite a stickler for discipline, and self-motivated.
Working in the security industry, especially in the earlier days, with longer hours was quite a task, a challenge that comes with stress and frustration also, as I had a couple roles to fulfil a mother and a wife first, and then a Security Officer. Before I left for work, I ensured that I prepared breakfast and lunch for my family. I worked twelve-hour shifts, both day and night duties, which meant that I was out of the house for more than 14 hours a day. When I returned home from duty, I prepared dinner for the family, and continued to prepare for the following day. I tried and still try my best to give much attention to my kids and husband, and now that I am a grandmother, I have to find the time to give my love to my granddaughter. While I work an 8-hour duty now, I spend a considerable amount of time in traffic, which as you know can be quite frustrating at times, and a mental challenge at that. But at the end of the day, nothing is better than going home to my family.
Working in an environment that is predominantly male dominated, where security is known as a man’s job, can be a quite intimidating, especially dealing with the public. Security has emerged now that it is no longer a guard duty, but now includes desk work, use of the computer and other technologies, client oriented, and customer friendly. However, in my earlier experience as a security officer, there was a higher percentage of men in the industry, it is now dominated by women. In every security company and the security industry as a whole, in Trinidad and Tobago, there is a higher ratio of women to men. As a woman, I performed and still perform my duties diligently, passionately and courageously. Sometimes to face and deal with people each day in the workplace, people tend to have less respect for women, especially when you are a female security officer. Men especially looks down at women as feeble and incapable of carrying out what is called a “man’s job.” But I have stood the test of time, and became stronger and stronger, wiser and wiser, fed my intellect, obtained a great deal of knowledge in the field, especially now that the field entails a broader need for customer service.
I am quite proud of the person I have become today. I have the tenacity to face the challenges head on. I am proud to be a part of the Management Team of Innovative Security Technologies Ltd. I use my success story to motivate other female officers and even females I come across in my journey of life, especially those that are mothers and have to leave their children to come out and labour to ensure that needs are met at home. Most of the times, especially females use their employment in the Security Field as a stepping stone, or just a means of feeding their family, however, I encourage them to stay focus, stay strong, accept challenges, believe in themselves that they can indeed make a career in security, build their lives, build their homes and reach their peak of expectation. Last but not least, I cannot forget to thank my employer for the opportunity they gave to me, that 24 years later, they have placed a high level of confidence in me, which does not scare me or make me feel pressured, but actually gives me motivation to always fulfil whatever challenges or workload that comes my way.