There are few career stories that result in a straight, predictable line of progression. Keith White, SVP and Chief Global Safety and Security Officer at Salesforce, has a story that can be described as anything but linear — moving on from working nights at Burger King, to loss prevention, to leading global security for two of the largest organizations in the world. However, in his 20+ year career he has done far more than protect people and assets — he has inspired others to go beyond what they thought they were ever capable of.
Investment in people
Keith’s impact extends far beyond the office. It seeps into his everyday life where he regularly connects with people beginning their career path in security, or those trying to find their way.
His experience as a leader in the International Organization of Black Security Executives (IOBSE), the leading organization for minority security professionals, has not only provided support to others, but has opened doors to minorities. In his 28 years with the organization he has helped hundreds of people of color with everything from college applications to connecting with organizations on how to recruit and retain people of color.
Trust and integrity are ingrained in everything Keith does. Debbie Maples, VP of Intelligence, Investigations & Protection at Salesforce (and also worked for Keith at Gap), shares, “Keith is a leader that people want to follow. He is an amazing teacher, trusted advisor, mentor, and visionary, inspiring others to do great work on behalf of their organization. He consistently values integrity and trust as the highest values by which he operates.”
For someone who has extremely limited time for himself, he always carves out time for others. Debbie adds, “I count myself blessed to have been able to be a part of his teams – his impact on my career has changed the trajectory of my life as a woman and person of color. I know that Keith saw my potential and invested in my development as a leader – that is priceless.”
The essence of leadership
Keith is a “first generation security executive” meaning he has no previous experience in law enforcement. When Keith first started in the security industry, being accepted without this experience was a challenge. But Keith has worked diligently not only to gain his own acceptance but to set an example for others of what is needed (or not needed) to be successful.
Keith has also seen a seismic shift in the evolution of the security role. It is now an integral part of the executive leadership team with many relying on senior security leaders to support the overall success of the organization. Keith shares, “Security brings so much more value than guards, gates, alarms. There are so many possibilities to meet and exceed opportunities the business presents.”
Keith’s leadership is admired by all who chose to be in the physical security field — branching across experience levels and backgrounds. But his leadership to support diversity truly stands out from the rest. Bobby Louissaint, Manager and Technical Solutions GSST at Facebook, shares, “He has helped to mold some of the best teams in this business, he has mentored some of the most successful leaders, and has been a direct influencer of diversity long before the world began to recognize the need. Keith is the example of leadership the world needs to follow, he is thoroughly loved, and I am proud to call him a mentor and friend.”
A large part of Keith’s success is defined by others he has helped support. Consistent across his business, mentorship, and personal relationships his motto stays true — “be the best version of yourself.”
We look forward to seeing the impact Keith continues to make in the security industry and are thrilled to honor him as a Protective Intelligence Honors Pioneer. Read more about his background and listen to his conversation with Fred Burton, Executive Director of The Ontic Center for Protective Intelligence, by visiting his profile page below.