A lawyer by profession and a former government official, our Professional of the Month found success in the security industry.
By Álvaro León Pérez Sepúlveda
Born in 1969 in Mexico City, Héctor Coronado has specialties in Criminal Law and Integral Security, as well as a master's degree in Security Administration. In addition, the executive has several national and international diplomas and certifications, such as Certified Professional Protection (CPP) and Business Security Management (DSE).
In recognition of his profile and leadership, we asked Héctor to share with us how he performs in his role as an executive and also to talk to us about his more personal and family side. This is what he told us.
What have been the most important milestones in your career?
I've been working for more than 30 years. For the first five years, I worked in the government and, later, in Banamex-Citibank. Later I worked at Radio Schack, as Loss Prevention Manager and at Hewlett Packard, becoming the Director of Security for Latin America. I then moved to Amazon, after which I was Global Vice President of Security for Kavak. I currently work at Mercado Libre, as head of the Security and Operations area for Latin America.
How did you get into the security industry?
I started by mistake. As a lawyer, I had no plans to enter the security industry. However, I went from doing investigations for the Government, in Prosecutors' Offices, to doing investigations in a bank and that was my first experience in the sector.
How did you manage to adapt to your new professional role?
At first, I specialized in research. The first shift to a more generalist profile happened when I joined the Loss Prevention area of Radio Shack. There I learned about corporate security in its different areas of expertise. Later I worked in corporations that were number one globally. I learned security best practices, was CSO of a company where I approached security from the ground up, and have been in the industry for over 18 years.
What has changed over the years?
The security industry has evolved by leaps and bounds and needs to continue to evolve. At the bank, the main risks were bank robberies and then wire fraud. Those of us who dealt with the robbery later dealt with the fraud in electronic banking. At first empirically and then we started to learn, with more mistakes than successes. There are more learning tools now than there were 30 years ago. However, they are not enough and our commitment is to support new professionals.
Do you see that commitment as a challenge?
We live in a moment where two generations of experts converge: those of traditional security, to which I belong, and the current one, which is more focused on technology and cybersecurity. The challenge is to make these two worlds coexist and get the best out of them, generating generational synergy.
What would you say to professionals who are just starting their careers?
One of the things I question the most is not getting out of my comfort zone. Sometimes we don't question ourselves enough to break paradigms and look for better ways of doing things. I believe that the keys to success are knowing the business very well, but also having those soft technical skills that complement us as leaders. You have to speak the language that is spoken in companies and understand the financial, HR, Operations and our customers' approach.
How does it feel to be recognized as Professional of the Month?
I want to express that I am very grateful and honored to receive this recognition. I don't think I'm any better than many of my colleagues, who, like me, struggle in this complex world of security and give their best.
How is the region doing in terms of security?
Latin America has been one of the most complex regions in terms of security. There are socio-political and economic factors that make several countries in the region a breeding ground for complex problems that are not seen elsewhere. However, the crises we have experienced, the creativity of our idiosyncrasies and our professionalism make us unique examples of how to fix problems and do things well.
How does technology interact with the leadership role in this industry?
Technology is already a reality and we must know how to apply it in the security industry in the best way. We went from a deficit to an excess of information, now the challenge is to use it efficiently. The security leader used to be ex-FBI, ex-military, or ex-CIA agent. Then came professionals such as lawyers and engineers. Today, authentic corporate and private security professionals are being trained who are prepared to deal with the current risks.
Did you visualize yourself in your current position years ago?
In a course of work, the instructor asked us to write down our biggest professional dream and I wrote that mine was to be Director of Security for Latin America. At the time I was just a regional manager and I didn't think my dream was achievable in the short term. However, once I visualized it, I started working for my dream and in less than three years I reached that position. That's how I realized that you have to have dreams, but also draw up a work plan and fight for them every day.
Do you play any sports?
I love to play sports and have played swimming, football (although it was very bad) and basketball. I recently started practicing Spartan races, which are crossfit type races, as well as weights and cardio. When I was a kid, we played "tochito" (football) in a park across the street from my house and at Christmas I was given a professional football. It was signed by my favorite player, Houston Oilers running back Earl Campbell. The ball lasted intact for the first 3 minutes of the game because it flew to a house where a mastiff dog lived who was grateful for the "gift" and I ran out of ball.
What do you do in your free time?
I love wine, meat, and traveling; My favorite places are Italy and the beaches, every time I can I go to Acapulco. In my teens and young adulthood, I loved going out to parties and clubs. I was even a PR person for one of these and it helped me not to pay for cover.
What is your family like?
I am married to Gaby for 28 years and have two children: Hector, 27, who is a marketer and works in a startup, and Juan Pablo, 23, who is studying Strategic Intelligence.
What do you like and dislike about yourself?
I like that I'm not conformist and what I dislike the most is that sometimes I'm very demanding with myself and that has caused me health problems.
What are your plans now?
I mentor and donate the proceeds of my book, A Second Chance, to foundations. When I can, I give free safety talks. Upcoming goals? There are many. To be a better and better person, to contribute to my work group so that we can be the best Loss Prevention team, at least in Latin America. In addition, I hope to become independent in a few years, be a consultant and continue teaching.