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A Conversation with Dee McCown – Global Security & Loss Prevention Expert

Global Security Expert Dee McCown shares insights and experience on safety, security, and loss-prevention.

Dee McCown is the Director of Global Security & Loss Prevention at a Fortune 500 company with a proven track record of successful management in the private sector, US Army and FBI. He has extensive work experience in Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

Dee McCown has a proven ability to develop and implement strategy focused on corporate security, national security, loss prevention, and global law enforcement initiatives in the areas of investigations, fraud, cyber, physical security, product theft, and violent crime (including kidnap/extortion) management. He is a collaborative leader with years of experience in building consensus across agencies, departments and public/private sector entities to achieve common goals.

Dee McCown has global experience in:

  • Management Leadership
  • Risk Management and Compliance
  • Investigations Management
  • Data Privacy & Cyber Security Support
  • Legal Compliance
  • Loss Prevention
  • Special Events Security Management
  • Strategic Planning
  • Resource Management and Allocation
  • Budgeting/Planning/Forecasting
  • Personnel Security (kidnap and extortion case management)
  • Physical/Facility Security
  • Corporate Aviation Support
  • Executive Protection
  • Workplace Violence
  • Global Threat/Risk Analysis

We recently had the opportunity to talk to Dee McCown and learn a little more about his profession and the personal and professional challenges he has faced during the past year.

How do you see the profession changing in the next 3-5 years, and how do you see yourself creating that change?

The global security environment is changing rapidly and at a pace unseen in past decades. I do not believe the threats we are seeing now are going to stop and in fact will grow. I believe that the changes we are witnessing are mostly influenced by technology, the dynamic and versatility of domestic and global threat actors and changing norms and values of corporate America.

Most notably, technology is changing every aspect of our corporate culture and security is no different.  Cyber criminals whether they be State or non-State actors present a threat to corporate profit, reputation, personal privacy (GDPR) and proprietary information and are constantly changing their techniques, tactics, and procedures to gain unauthorized access to company secrets and financial data. 

Fraud is also a growing problem with many companies accounting for losses in the billions of dollars each year. And last, incidents of violence in the workplace are increasing, wreaking havoc on worker’s morale and at times performance.

I see security professionals like myself combating many of these threats with a greater reliance on technology to better combat the myriad of challenges corporations face from both internal and external actors.  

Is loss prevention a big part of your job?

Loss prevention is an enormous part of my job.  I am responsible for the security of all products in our international business units around the globe as well as products located in our North America Supply Chain. Presently there is approximately 1.5 billion U.S. dollars of product in our North America Supply Chain alone and ensuring its’ security is paramount.

The key to a good loss prevention program is combining multiple countermeasures into a single program. Facility access control, counter-smuggling technology (magnetometers, RFID tagging technology, robust Closed Circuit TV program,) embedded loss prevention specialists and a qualified guard force make up the components of a professional and effective loss prevention program.

And of course, there is leader buy-in. To be successful a good loss prevention program should be a part of the company’s DNA and only becomes a reality if the corporate leadership buys-in and supports the program.

Do you manage investigations in your job?

Yes, I am responsible for managing a myriad of corporate investigations including product theft, fraud and employee misconduct. My team works closely with our HR Department and leaders of the impacted Business units.

We conduct investigations, interviews and put together cases in which perpetrators (both employees and external actors) are disciplined, terminated and at times referred to local law enforcement for prosecution. 

Where is the most challenging environment you’ve worked (geographically speaking) and why?

In the last 14 years I’ve worked on a variety of security projects in over 35 countries. That being said I would say that Mexico, Brazil and Colombia are the most challenging given the culture, sophistication of the criminal networks and challenges with corruption, especially among the government institutions.

Our travel security program to these countries must be airtight due to the risk imposed by local criminal actors. Further, the kidnap and extortion threat to our local employees presents a constant risk and can never be underestimated.

 

Do you manage executive international travel as part of your job?

Yes, with the support of senior leadership my security team created a world class executive protection travel program supporting 500 travel events per year on average. This includes business travel to hot spots in LATAM, the Middle East, Asia, and on occasion, Africa.

Do you manage a guard force as part of your responsibilities?

Yes, we contract with a major guard force provider and manage their day-to-day operations. We utilize guards in every Distribution Center in North America as well as facilities in Mexico and Eastern Europe.

How has the global pandemic impacted your business?

The global pandemic has significantly impacted our business and especially our supply chain.  Fortunately, I work for a global supplier that is considered by the US Government as “essential” and the majority of our workforce (including myself) retained our jobs. 

That being said the challenge that Covid placed on our collective leadership and daily company operations cannot be understated. We learned to efficiently manage a portion of our work force virtually that otherwise were assigned to work in a corporate office space, mostly administrative positions that could do their jobs from home.  

We also learned to manage thousands of employees that never quit reporting to work in hundreds of Branches and Distribution centers across the globe.

In those cases, we learned to avoid catching and spreading Covid among the work in-house force to the best of our abilities. The impact of Covid on me personally has been challenging given my ability to travel and visit key locations for the past year. 

Fortunately, I was still able to drive to several of our domestic locations in the US and work with local partners. Given that air travel restrictions are beginning to loosen up I look forward to getting back on the road and visiting the many domestic US and international facilities maintained by my company around the globe.

What is the biggest challenge you are facing right now?

To be candid, the biggest challenge I face at the moment is the responsibility of managing an enormous amount of day-to-day security work with limited security personnel and budget and the need to constantly demonstrate to senior leadership that our security department adds value to the broader proposition.

Normally security is not viewed as a money-making enterprise by corporate leadership and it’s incumbent upon me to proactively articulate the value our security program brings to the company and the need for funding it.

Can you share your personal approach to managing an effective balance between life and work?

Historically, this has been a struggle for me although I admit that in my later years, I have developed a simple philosophy that seems to work.  Truthfully, there are only so many hours in a day you can work effectively and beyond those hours your efforts become counterproductive.

I have found that you can work yourself to a point where your capacity to problem-solve is next to nothing and when that occurs you are no good to your organization. 

To remedy this problem, I now follow a few simple rules. First of all, I self-discipline myself to maintain a strict time-managed daily routine that avoids wasting time on low priority matters. Second, I limit myself to working a hard 10 hours a day. There are certainly days that I work beyond 10 hours, but I try to make those days an exception because I find that the following day my mental capacity is less effective.

I also try not to work on weekends, however, if I do I set aside 2-4 hours only and focus exclusively on one or two topics. Next, I find that working out in the gym 3-4 times per week in the early morning or evenings alleviates stress and helps me clear my head.  

My gym workouts are an indispensable component to my weekly routine. I think it is critical that we do other things on weekends unrelated to work that provide our brain a rest from the previous days of work. I personally enjoy working manual labor on my land in the country and find that it clears my head and readies me for the next week.

And last, I take two vacations per year where I disconnect for about 7 days each. Disengaging for a protracted period of time, albeit short, is critical in recharging my batteries and getting ready for the work ahead.

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Written by Kristel Staci

Kristel Staci is an entrepreneur and freelance writer that focuses on everything related to social media, online marketing and finance. To see what Kristel is currently working on, you can visit her blog at KristelStaci.com.

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