Hyatt’s CSO on Managing Security When the Doors Are Always Open

It comes as no surprise that the standards and terminology in the security profession vary depending on where you are in the world. However, when you work for a company that operates in 74 countries, keeping track of these nuances is vital to efficiently addressing threats and quickly arriving at a solution.

Bruce Mills is the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of Hyatt Corporation. In his role, he oversees over 160,000 associates and nearly 1,400 hotels and resorts in 74 countries. Mills is responsible for all security and life safety programs and initiatives, including physical and technical security, emergency preparedness and crisis management, travel safety and internal investigations, and brand protection activities. Before moving to the private sector, he spent nearly 25 years with the Diplomatic Security Service, attaining the rank of Special Agent-in-Charge serving all over the world.

Key topics of Mills’ discussion with host Fred Burton include:

  • The cultural differences in security — you can have global standards for a company’s security program but there are always cultural nuances.
  • How to manage a security presence when the doors are always open.
  • Communicating with leadership when you have multiple bosses, and the importance of identifying risk and providing steps to mitigate it.
  • The role of technology in the success of his role in the business and how standardization across locations is essential to staying ahead of threats.

Key takeaways:

04:50: Fred: How has your sector evolved from a security perspective over the last say five years or so?

04:58: Bruce Mills: In the hospitality sector it’s a little bit different from the defense sector or even the government sector and even in certain commercial enterprises you you build a hardened presence. You build very strong concentric rings of security and you try to keep people out and to keep people safe. In hospitality think about it this way — we never close our doors or we certainly don’t lock our doors. We are an open, welcoming environment. So it poses a whole series of concerns.

You’d be surprised at how we’ve incorporated some of the physical securities pieces into the hospitality industry. You might not see it but behind the scenes, you’ll have X-ray machines and explosive itemizers and different environmental factors to control vehicles. You need to monitor delivery people and separate them from employees versus visitors and so on. So a lot of similar mitigations but doing so in a more of an open environment. It’s a very difficult work environment because you just literally have to keep the front door open.

10:31: Fred: Bruce, how have you found success in proving the business value of your security program to your 1,600 bosses in this case or to your c-suite? 

10:46: Bruce Mills: I oftentimes will remind my leadership why I’m here. Our model at Hyatt is that we have safety and security at the forefront of our mission and so I remind our leadership that it’s important to walk the walk not just talk to talk. I explain that these elements and actions can incrementally make our guests and colleagues safer and our properties more secure. It’s in our best interest and safety and security have to be a core component of how we do business. 

Hyatt has had a longstanding culture in which safety is critically important and woven into the business. So I’m carrying that flag and continuing the effort.