by Barbaray Petty
I liked Christine Peterson from the moment we met. We were in a Raleigh Chamber of Commerce Business Roundtable together, along with one other woman and seven men. The purpose behind the roundtable was to bring together CEOs or top-level managers to discuss business ideas — sort of like an advisory board. Whenever Christine shared her thoughts (which was hard to find air time in that group!), her observations were always thoughtful, informative, and well spoken.
As our relationship evolved from business associate to friend, I realized how amazing she is — dedicated to her family, her work, and her community. The perfect combination for a Fifty & Fabulous spotlight story.
At 19, rather than move again with her family, Christine married her 18 year-old boyfriend, Bill. “We were both from big Catholic families, so it didn’t occur to us not to have children right away,” She remembers. “Will, our first child was born 15 months later in 1979, and Meghan was born in 1982.”
Bill’s job moved them to North Carolina where they eventually settled in Raleigh. Although happily employed with Pepsi, Bill had a goal of finishing college. Christine also wanted to pursue a degree, so both Christine and Bill took classes while raising children and working. “Bill graduated from North Carolina Wesleyan College, it took him 18 years!” she says proudly. “And our son Will graduated within four days of Bill.”
Christine began working as a part time office manager in 1987 for a safety company. “They gave me the flexibility to leave every day at 3pm so I would be home for the children,” she says. In 1991 she took a full-time position with Risk Management Associates (RMA) where she is today. “I was their first administrative assistant and the only woman employee for a year.”
Continuing with her education, Christine comments, “My class choices were always based on what I needed for my job. For example as an office manager I needed accounting so I took accounting classes. Then I took human resource classes.” She completed her associate’s degree, but more important to her career, she received her Certified Protection Professional (CPP) credentials in security. “It is the highest designation you can achieve in this profession in the private sector,” she notes. “It was a big step for me, very few women have this certification.”
Christine is now vice president of administration at Risk Management. She is in charge of all accounting and management functions, a facility security officer for all government work, and a consultant where she specializes in school security. I was curious as to how she became so successful in a male-dominated industry.
Christine explains, “I am passionate about what I do. We can make the world safer — we reduce crime! It keeps people safer, it keeps businesses safe, and it makes businesses more profitable. 70% of companies go out of business because of internal fraud! We are such a trusting nation, we inherently believe that people are basically good. But we forget that people have all these other things happening to them; even good people that make good decisions most of the time make bad decisions.
“It takes three things in a person’s psyche to make them commit a crime: you need an asset; you need to perceive that you have a good chance of getting that asset (remember I said perception, it may not be a fact, but they think they do); and the third thing is opportunity.”
Fascinated, I asked Christine to explain what security involves. “Security is not just technology, IT systems, cameras, etc. Security is a philosophy. It is people, processes and technology. If technology was the only component, we would never have bank robberies, because everyone knows the cameras are there.”
Christine shares some examples. “Going into businesses you find the craziest things. For example you may find a punch code, key-in entry and 90% of the time, someone has written the code on the side of the device! Or you find out that the UPS man knows what the code it, the Fed Ex guy knows the code, everyone’s wife or husband knows the code. Or someone will be standing by the door with their hands full. They don’t look like a mass murderer, so someone will just hold the door open for them. That’s why we help businesses develop policies, procedures and training.
“Or when you fire an employee or someone quits, how soon do you get their access card back? Or at the very least, let security know so they can deactivate his or her card. That’s communication between HR and security.”
Christine is obviously passionate about her work. And all the while she was breaking glass ceilings, she graduated summa cum laude from Campbell University, she has held several positions with the American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS), and is currently Assistant Regional Vice President for this international organization. In addition she managed to serve on numerous boards including the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the Cardinal Club.
And if that wasn’t enough, her involvement in community projects, personally and as a representative of RMA, is pretty staggering: Helping Hands Mission, USO, and Habitat for Humanity (pro bono security work) among others. “Our management team adopts families at Christmas,” Christine explains. “We purchased gifts for the entire family and then invited them to our Christmas party. The employees really enjoyed having the families attend.”
RMA is now an employee-owned firm, and Christine’s mission is to continue the vision that founder Mike Tucker established: to be a business partner with companies to help them be more successful, to make a positive difference and to reduce crime. “And giving back to the community is part of our business plan,” she says. “It starts at the top and involves all employees. It’s a beautiful feeling.”
Plan. Protect. Prosper.
Protus3 specializes in security system design, security consulting, corporate investigations and other investigative services. Partner with Protus3 and we will examine each situation to identify threats and develop solutions for your best outcome.