Ahead of International Women’s Day on Monday 8 March 2021, we talk to Connie Mathisen, International and Government Engagement Manager at ADS, about her role, background and advice to other women considering entering the sector.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what your role is?

My name is Connie and I am the International and Government Engagement Manager for the ADS Security and Resilience Sector. As part of my role I am seconded into the Joint Security and Resilience Centre (JSaRC) in the Office of Security and Counter Terrorism (OSCT) in the UK Home Office. In my combined role I work as a key link between Government and industry, facilitating high-level conversations and collaboration across various strands of the security sector. A lot of my work includes stakeholder management across Government and industry liaising with senior stakeholders both domestically and internationally. I am also responsible for the international market programme in the ADS Security and Resilience Sector, working closely with colleagues from Department of International Trade UK Defence and Security Exports, providing ADS members with a platform to interact with international stakeholders and showcase their capabilities. Additionally, I am also the Secretariat for the PROTECT UK Special Interest Group, a SIG for ADS members who are engaged in or have an interest in all aspects of physical security, ranging from access control, perimeter security, blast protection solutions, hostile vehicle mitigation, all the way through to training and risk advisory services.

What made you join the Security sector and what do you like about it?

I guess you can say my route into the security sector started when I did my undergraduate degree in Politics and International Relations at Kingston University. There, I studied various topics across politics and IR before narrowing down and focusing on extremism and terrorism in my final year. After graduating from Kingston I did an MA in Intelligence and International Security at King’s College London. Here, I continued studying various aspects of international security and from there I naturally progressed into a career in the security sector. After graduating from King’s I worked as a Crisis Management Analyst at Goldman Sachs for a couple of years – getting an operational experience in crisis and risk management across the entire business. I joined ADS in September 2019.

My reason for going into the security sector was that the field is something I find genuinely very interesting – seeing all the innovative technologies that are continuously being developed, understanding threats to society that are continuously evolving and exploring future innovative ideas to counter those threats.

What would you say to other women who may be considering a career in Security?

The security sector is, like many sectors, mostly made up of men, however, there is a growing network of women establishing themselves in the field (with support from women who have been working in the sector for a while). Just the other day I attended a breakfast briefing organised by Women in International Security (WIIS UK), where we were joined by a female ambassador and senior female representatives from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. The session was very well attended – a testament to the growing number of women in the sector. I would encourage all women who are interested in joining the sector to get involved – women are very welcome in the sector and you will be able to find a network of other women in the sector who will support you throughout your career.