Champions in Security – Honoree Profile: Heather Hinton, 2023 Champion for Respect
Heather was a recipient at the inaugural 2023 Champion in Security Awards, hosted by Portal26. The Champion in Security Awards honor security leaders embodying meaningful values within the security community that make the profession better for current and future practitioners. Heather won the Champion in Security Award for Respect, which honors security leaders actioning kind and respectful behavior within their organizations, as well as empowering other leaders to take empathetic responses to challenging work scenarios.
What does it mean to you to win the Champion in Security Award for Respect?
As a practitioner in security, the fact that we HAVE this award is inspiring. It tells me, and hopefully tells the community, that we don’t have to be security professionals by day and good people by night. We can be both all the time.
For me as an individual, this is a way to say ‘thank you’ to every colleague who I have worked with and learned from.
Who in your career helped demonstrate this attribute that influenced your professional behavior?
Not that I am trying to “be nice to the boss,” but Arti Raman is one of the most amazing people in terms of her ability to always be kind, open, engaged and respectful of the world around her. There is a long list of people who I know have influenced me, and there is an even longer list of people who have influenced me in ways that I probably didn’t recognize at the time. What they all have in common is that they listened to me and helped me understand “stuff” and modeled how I want to be seen by others: as someone who wants to help people grow and reach their full potential and then surpass that.
What advice would you give to professionals who want to work in the security field?
Be open and willing to engage, listen and learn from everyone around you, no matter what their role. If you try to learn at least one thing every day, you will instill the continuous learning that is critical in this field. And if you try to make this one thing be something you learn from someone else, you will help build and maintain the kind, empathetic, curious and overall awesome space that is the security community.
How has fostering relationships within the security industry affected your career?
Relationships are how I stay passionate and engaged. The people I have met over my career are my sounding boards, my frustration empathizers and my cheerleaders, as well as my source of inspiration, energy, problem-solving and overall a reminder of why I love what I do.
What are some unique relationships you have within the security industry?
They are all unique!
How has respect in the professional world changed since you began your career?
I am not forced to wear a suit with slacks or a skirt at, or below, the knee. Far fewer people care how you look, dress or sound like, compared to my first entry into the “working world” as a consultant before graduate school. Starting out as an academic, respect was always something that you earned based on your ideas and your age (the older the better), and your ideas were judged on their academic purity (pragmatism was not an option). Now we are far more open to listening and learning from everyone around us, as well as respecting the contributions of the newly tenured employees with their voices at the table.