By understanding how better security saves companies money, Al Ortiz got in on the ground floor of a new operation.
When Al Ortiz was laid off from his position as a regional security director for Bank of America in February, he said he realized that big corporations were not seeing the value his skills could have on their companies.
“When times are tough, companies are not as likely to hire security people,” he said. “We’re not revenue producers. But we can save companies a lot of money. And I think the big companies were not valuing that in this economic downturn.”
Ortiz, a retired FBI agent, had used his network to look for a job when he was hired by Bank of America in 2006. This time around, he went back to that network. “I know a lot of folks in the industry. I reached out to my contacts to see if there was anything coming down the pike with other companies, and to just get advice,” he said “The network was telling me about jobs that were open, and there were calls made on my behalf, but I didn’t hear back,” he said.
Job security for security pros
The OpsLadder member, who speaks Spanish fluently, had been in charge of security for one-quarter of the U.S. and all of Latin America for Bank of America. Ortiz was looking for a job with similar responsibility as well as job security. And while he thought the big corporations would be his best bet, he felt like he was hitting a brick wall as he made his way through job listings.
His strategy was to focus on jobs with big corporations, thinking he’d have a better chance with job security if he went with bigger companies. The fact that he didn’t hear back from employers “made me think those jobs were already filled from the inside,” he said. “I still kept swinging the bat with the corporate Web sites, but my hopes were diminished.”
When a friend who works for a Wall Street firm suggested Ortiz try Ladders, his search took a different tack. “This friend said, ‘You’re making over $100,000; let Ladders work for you.’ So I became a member and started looking through the site.
“I saw a job that I was qualified for, so I sent my resume,” he said. “Within two hours, I got a call from a recruiter. I was amazed. It was totally different from what I had been experiencing.”
Ortiz had a few requirements in looking for a job, including the fact that he wanted to stay in Texas, if possible, and he wanted to leverage his Latin American expertise. The position he applied to on Ladders involved work in Mexico and the United States. It was based in the Southwest and required Spanish fluency. “There wasn’t a lot of detail about the job, but from what I saw, I knew it would be interesting,” he said. “The recruiter had me fill out a couple of forms, and the next thing you know, I was going into an interview with the COO and the president of HR.”
The position, for a director of security with a smaller company that is growing rapidly, offered several challenges for Ortiz. The job called for someone who could provide and develop security systems. The company needed it done quickly. “I was interested in the challenge of creating a security department, setting it up the right way from the get-go. I’ve walked into other jobs where things were not set up right, and you spend so much time trying to fix things. I liked the idea of having everything work the right way from the beginning.”
Ortiz, who was hired three weeks after the first interview, said he also talked to the company about how he could save them money. “Larger companies don’t see what security can do for them. I needed to get in to speak to the people in charge to convince them what I could do for them. Not only am I a security guy, I’m a businessman. I’m arresting a person that could have cost them a lot of money. The bigger company doesn’t value that; they don’t sweat a $1 million inefficiency. The small companies do sweat it. This company certainly does.”