Tom Robertson, CPP, is the associate vice president, governance and strategy, for the global security and
investigations (GSI) segment of TD Bank Group’s corporate security department. Robertson began his career in the Canadian Forces, attending the Royal Military College of Canada and then serving nine years in the regular force, including overseas deployments in the Balkans and Afghanistan. Following his military service, Tom cofounded a risk management venture, Echo4 Inc., that focused on pre employment security screening of local hires in high-threat environments. In late 2009, Robertson joined Sun Life Financial as director, special services, before joining TD in early 2012. A titled officer of the bank, Robertson is one of four executives that lead GSI’s 320 employees in the protection of the bank’s employees, customers, and assets.
Robertson currently serves on the ASIS International Young Professionals Steering Committee.
Q: Why did you decide to enter the security field, and how did you get your start?
A: In 2007, just as I was preparing to leave the military, I was invited to speak to the ASIS Toronto Chapter. From that talk, I began to see both the tremendous opportunity and the exciting work that the corporate security space offers, particularly in the financial sector.
The rest has evolved over time.
Q: What does your position entail at TD Bank?
A: GSI is dedicated to the security of TD employees and customers. My team also handles compliance, reporting, analytics, training, and strategy.
Q: How do you contribute to and promote team success in your organization?
A: One of the ways that we demonstrate our value is by meeting TD’s corporate goals and our GSI goal to provide the highest level of protection to our employees and customers. We back this up by building quantifiable metrics: hard numbers that show how many dollars are saved, returned, or gained for every dollar spent on a particular facet of our corporate security program. From an employee-experience perspective TD is committed to making our environment an extraordinary place to work. TD promotes success by fostering a positive and welcoming work environment; TD’s FlexWorkPlace allows employees to develop work schedules that work for them, and our internal social media tool—Connections—is enhancing communication across our team, both in the United States and Canada.
Q: What is your strategy for empowering your employees?
A: At TD, our people are our greatest asset. We recruit and retain top talent. Part of my time is spent thinking about what our department will look like next year or the year after, and what sort of skills we need now to meet those future demands. At an operational level, TD has employee reward and recognition programs, employee appreciation days, management training and leadership development programs, and a strong focus on community involvement, all of which promote an amazing employee experience. On a personal level, I have monthly full-team meetings, weekly section-head meetings, and biweekly direct-report meetings. I also lead the communications strategy for GSI, which strives to ensure we continually improve our interdepartment communications. Most recently, this has included the development of a new GSI intranet site and the use of social media tools to share information and collaborate.
Q: What characteristic do you think is most important to be successful in the security field?
A: I don’t think there’s any one single characteristic that drives professional success, but I do think a strong work ethic is critical. Underpinning a strong work ethic would probably be passion— a fundamental belief in the value of the work you do.
Q: Who is your role model, and how does he or she affect your approach to your career?
A: My father. He reminds me to dream big.
Q: Do you rely on the Young Professionals (YP) community for peer mentorship or assistance when you run into a difficult problem?
A: The contacts I’ve made through ASIS have been a tremendous help to me. In my first role out of the military my company sent me to the Annual Seminar and Exhibits in Anaheim, I wandered into a YP breakout session, where I met people I rely on today to help me in everything from vendor selection to problem solving on security issues.
Q: What do you think is the biggest pitfall for young professionals in the security industry, and what would you recommend to avoid it?
A: I often see or hear about many former law enforcement or military YPs looking to move into management-level roles outside of the sector. Shifting career paths for anyone can be challenging, but I find transitioning from law enforcement or the military to other sectors presents its own set of unique hurtles. My advice is to learn the customs, norms, and values of the companies you want to work for and then learn to express your life experiences in terms those companies can understand, and more importantly, in terms those companies can relate back to their own needs.