CIO Spotlight: Mike Beattie, Securitas Technology

Does the CIO role have additional responsibilities it does not currently include? “Being only a technical expert is no longer enough if you don’t have the business acumen and strategic business thinking to contribute to the executive team and the board room.”

Headshot of Mike Beattie, Global CIO & SVP, IT at Securitas Technology
Securitas Technology

Name: Mike Beattie

Company: Securitas Technology

Job title: Global CIO & SVP, IT

Date started current role: April 2022

Location: Uniontown, OH

Mike Beattie is Global Chief Information Officer and SVP, Information Technology for Securitas Technology. He is responsible for enterprise information technology long-term strategy and the applications and technology support for the business across all operations. He is also responsible for all technology services, operations and applications for Securitas Technology employees.

What was your first job? I had been learning various programming languages for about three years in high school and college when in the early ’80s I was home for a college break and my uncle took me to lunch. He was telling me how hard it was to find a good computer program to use in his law practice to record billable hours for the numerous cases his firm was working on. As he described what he needed, I offered that I could easily create a program for him to do that.  We shook hands and I developed my first piece of commercial code that his firm used for several years.

Did you always want to work in IT? No, I actually wanted to be a veterinarian when I was growing up on a small farm. But when I started high school, I learned that we were one of only a few schools with a computer lab and a programming language curriculum. They had a couple TRS-80 computers plus a mini computer. Not many of my friends were interested, but I thought it would be cool to be one of the first to play in the lab, so I signed up for a basic programming course and never looked back.

What was your education? Do you hold any certifications? What are they? I have a bachelor’s degree in math and computer science from the U.S. Naval Academy with post-graduate work in computer science, as well as an MBA. 

Explain your career path. Did you take any detours? If so, discuss. Although I followed my passion with a computer science bachelor’s degree, the U.S. Navy had different plans for me. When I graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, they put me through their engineering program after which I spent four years on a ship in their engineering department. When I left the Navy, I landed a job with an aerospace company and spent five years as a design engineer for several programs; there, I designed and manufactured parts that ended up in space. But my next job pulled me back to my passion where I ultimately became the CIO for a rapidly growing semiconductor company that was acquired by Intel. So, for the last 25 years, I’ve been 100% an IT professional leading IT organisations in mid- to large-sized companies.

What business or technology initiatives will be most significant in driving IT investments in your organisation in the coming year? In July 2022, Securitas completed its acquisition of STANLEY Security and, since then, we’ve been building a new combined organisation, Securitas Technology. Our priority over the next 12 months is to complete the integration of our two organisations while continuing to seamlessly serve our clients. IT is front and center in these efforts, as we have more than 400 applications and 3,000 new colleagues we are integrating.

What are the CEO's top priorities for you in the coming year? How do you plan to support the business with IT? We have a high bar set by our CEO: IT must help enable the transformation of two separate organisations into one world-leading provider of integrated security solutions. We have aggressive timelines and targets for enabling the business to integrate our operations and to deliver a simplified, more cost-effective IT landscape.

Does the conventional CIO role include responsibilities it should not hold? Should the role have additional responsibilities it does not currently include? What we would have defined as the "conventional” CIO role 5 or 10 years ago has been left behind with the modern expectation that the CIO is first a business leader with an eye on enabling the financial and operational goals of the company, and being the trusted technology partner to his or her peers on the executive team. Being only a technical expert is no longer enough if you don’t have the business acumen and strategic business thinking to contribute to the executive team and the board room.

Are you leading a digital transformation? If so, does it emphasise customer experience and revenue growth or operational efficiency? If both, how do you balance the two? We are focused on client digitalisation, driving to a best-in-industry user experience with our digital products and solutions. We have dedicated teams working with the larger Securitas IT organisation to enable a unified client experience for any of the protective services our global organisation offers.  

Describe the maturity of your digital business. For example, do you have KPIs to quantify the value of IT? Securitas has created a virtual organisation with representatives from each of our business units and geographies, where Digital Transformation Officers (DTOs) have been assigned to collaborate on our digital transformation journey. This program has been in place almost two years and we do have standard metrics we report on to support our global transformation objectives. In our last assessment of our Securitas Technology business, we are a leader within Securitas on how far we have digitised our internal operations and our interactions with clients.

What does good culture fit look like in your organisation? How do you cultivate it? We are a people company whose culture is driven largely by our shared purpose to help make the world a safer place and our values of integrity, vigilance and helpfulness. Being successful at Securitas Technology means living by these values every day. It means being honest and doing the right thing; paying attention, taking initiative and looking for ways to improve; and being approachable, service-oriented and accommodating to our clients and colleagues. Our values and purpose are the foundation of our culture, and leaders cultivate this culture with the help of our Securitas Toolbox – a learning tool that helps establish a common language across the business and enables colleagues to gain a deeper understanding of our company.  

What roles or skills are you finding (or anticipate to be) the most difficult to fill? The competition for top IT talent in many areas has significantly increased over the last two years. From my perspective, the most challenging roles to fill are well-rounded IT leaders with strong business acumen. 

What's the best career advice you ever received? Seek to learn. All of us at one time or another, especially early in our careers, are faced with a challenge or assignment that we haven’t seen before and that stretches us beyond our comfort zone. Don’t shy away from those opportunities, because that is what they are – opportunities to learn and grow. You never know what you’re capable of achieving until you push yourself. Doing so helps to make you a better leader and a better IT professional. I always say to my team when we encounter challenges that “if it were easy, anyone could do it.”

Do you have a succession plan? If so, discuss the importance of and challenges with training up high-performing staff. Our people are critical to our success as a business, so we invest heavily in their learning and development. Our Leadership Development and Management Training programs help ensure our colleagues have ample opportunities to learn and grow, while gaining the skills needed to succeed in the future. These programs, and others, offer a springboard for high-performing talent to realise their potential.

What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders? IT is a challenging and rewarding career. If you don’t like uncertainty or pressure to perform, it might not be the right career for you. But if you like a challenge and feel pride of achievement when you accomplish what you once thought was impossible, then IT is an excellent career path for you. I love my job and being an IT professional, because every day every employee in the organisation relies on the products and services that IT delivers and supports. 

What has been your greatest career achievement? Years ago, I joined a company that had suffered through a failed ERP implementation. I was brought in to stabilise the IT systems, rebuild the IT organisation and ultimately deliver the new IT system that the business needed to take the next leap in their tech transformation. After stabilising the situation, I led the organisation through a six-month total IT landscape transformation, completing the project on time and under budget, a rarity for a large enterprise. This program unleashed the organisation’s potential, allowing it to grow faster than its competitors and to receive recognition as a leader in the industry.

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? Being a business-first IT leader, I tend to always push for one more project or enhancement, because I know it will help the business. Over my career, I’ve had to learn to make time for organisational development. Looking back earlier in my career, I would have spent more time creating learning opportunities for my IT colleagues. It’s important to create an environment where all IT colleagues can continue to learn new skills and/or deepen their expertise in specific areas.

What are you reading now? With the acquisition of STANLEY Security and the creation of the Securitas Technology organization, the leadership team is reading I Love it Here: How Great Leaders Create Organizations Their People Never Want to Leave by Clint Pulver. We know acquisitions can create uncertainty and doubt in the employees on both sides of the transaction, so we’re working hard to address those fears head-on. We are committed to helping our colleagues through the transition and are striving to make Securitas Technology a great place to work.

Most people don't know that I… Grew up on a small farm in a very low-tech environment. We had to adjust the “rabbit ears” antenna on our old TV all the time to get reception for our four channels.

In my spare time, I like to…Golf with my wife. I love being outside in the fresh air and nature, spending 4+ hours with my best friend chatting about our children and enjoying our time together.

Ask me to do anything but… Mow the grass. I had enough of that on the farm – whether it was the acre-plus lot around the house or the “back 40” pasture.