Rodney Glass is the Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President at HID Global, a worldwide leader in trusted identity solutions.
It is highly likely that the security smart card and access control system you come in contact with on a daily basis in buildings were made by HID Global. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, HID Global creates and builds the world’s most trusted identity security systems. The company’s products can be found around the globe in over 100 countries. HID Global’s COO Rodney Glass is the man tasked with running the operations of the company. It is a position he has worked hard to earn, and Glass takes pride in the company’s production of cutting-edge, identity security products and services.
A veteran of the manufacturing field with Ford and Motorola, Glass joined HID Global in 2009. Eight years later, Glass was named the company’s COO. In just under a decade with the HID Global, Glass has discovered his love for inspiring employees and works hard to grow the business and those that work with him. His passion comes from his love of teaching others, and Glass strives to improve those around him.
HID Global is prepared to make even more strides in security. Glass is excited for what the future holds, and his vision is to build on the reputation created by the company in the years to come.
Rodney, tell us about HID Global
RODNEY GLASS: At the highest level, HID Global powers the trusted identities of the world’s people, place and things. It’s not an exaggeration to say that millions of people use HID products every day, whether it’s an employee badge that you use to get into a building or secure credentials used to log into a network. And, we help to identify more than two billion things, verified and tracked using HID technologies. We sell to governments, banks, hospitals, universities and some of the most innovative companies on the planet. I like to put it this way: HID is part of the conversation when an identity needs to be verified, whether physically or digitally. It’s all about trust. Who can you trust to enter a building or to access your organization’s network or your bank account? In an increasingly uncertain world, trust in identities means something more significant today than it used to; there is a value connected to it. At HID, we essentially create trusted digital and physical environments.
What led you to join the company?
RODNEY GLASS: I joined HID because I saw an amazing opportunity to head up the quality organization and truly improve the customer experience around quality. I wasn’t very familiar with HID but when I researched them, I realized it’s an in exciting space. HID was a pioneering company in the physical access control market, innovating with smart cards and readers to open doors and turning itself into a strong industry leader. When you look at those little black boxes with the thin red or green light next to doors in buildings, airports, universities and government agencies, you realize how pervasive the presence of HID is in buildings. HID is everywhere; and so many people are carrying an ID card, made by HID, in their pockets every day and they don’t even know it. Because HID has continued to innovate, I loved the vision and the company’s growth trajectory. That’s why I first joined and why I have stayed for almost a decade; I think HID is just getting started to make the world a more trustworthy place, a place where you can trust that the right people have the right access to the right things at the right time.
You joined HID Global in 2009 and have worked your way up through the company. What has it been like to move up the ranks to COO of HID?
RODNEY GLASS: Exciting. Challenging. Transformative. It has been exciting to take on new challenges and bigger responsibilities. But what has meant the most to me are the people I’ve met along the way. As I have taken on larger roles, I have become a better listener. I have loved helping other people to develop into better leaders themselves. As a senior executive, the shift becomes more on leading leaders and developing those leaders. I love to teach and inspire other people. I want them to learn from my mistakes and stand on my shoulders, so I can make them go higher. As I have gained experience over the years, I have really come to see how important EQ [emotional intelligence] is, even more than IQ in some areas. Ultimately, I have learned that it’s important to deliver results in collaborative ways, and this is the kind of culture of collaboration that I aim to drive across the organization as chief operating officer.
The security of identities is a major concern for individuals and businesses today. It isn’t just physical threats that worry people, but businesses are concerned with being hacked as well. These physical and digital security threats have led HID to build products that put put people’s minds at ease.
HID Global makes a number of security products. How important is security in the 21st century?
RODNEY GLASS: Security is vital in this day and age. I don’t think anyone would argue with that statement. The kind of security that HID develops is primarily identity security. We help keep the so-called ‘bad guys’ out of your building. If you don’t know whether the identity of the person walking the hallways has been verified by the use of an electronically-connected credential – whether a smart card, a mobile phone or a wearable – you don’t really know if your workplace or your school is safe. Beyond that, we also protect corporate and government networks by authenticating digital identities. For example, the U.S. federal government has made a shift to multi-factor authentication for that second layer of security for digital identities – HID is right in the middle of it.
What are the biggest worries companies and individuals have when it comes to security now?
RODNEY GLASS: I’d say that the biggest concerns that people have are whether they can trust the person walking through the front door, including an employee, a visitor, a contractor or otherwise. Can they trust the people and, increasingly, can they trust the things that are accessing their resources digitally? The blurring of the physical and digital world has created enormous challenges. This is why you see data breaches that are devastating. This is why you see hackers stealing people’s usernames and passwords and pretending to be someone else. That’s a situation of lack of trust. So, HID’s customers are looking to us to shore up their potentially vulnerable areas, which is why they are coming to us for predictive analytics and to help them manage risk. The biggest worries of organizations are becoming opportunities to reassess how identities are managed and used within physical and digital environments. In addition, people are also concerned about privacy, which is part of the same coin of security. How do you balance both more security with more privacy? So many companies and governments are looking for a path forward. I talk to customers all the time about these matters. At the other end of the spectrum, some leading firms layer on top of those concerns a desire to allow their employees to move across their environment without friction. While it certainly creates a new challenge, we work closely with solution providers and leading companies to enable frictionless access.
At the end of the day, HID has an opportunity to be a trusted advisor on all matters related to identity security and privacy.
HID Global is regularly on the cusp of innovation. The company is always looking for new ways to build better products and services. One area the company is supporting facial recognition. It may sound like science fiction, but in the 21st century, it is a technology that could keep people and information safe.
There have been reports of HID supporting facial recognition. Where do you see security going in the future?
RODNEY GLASS: Yes, our HID Approve two-factor mobile authentication and verification platform supports Apple’s iPhone X Face ID facial recognition system. We expect facial recognition to play an increasingly important role in authentication offerings, combined with threat and fraud detection. Facial recognition is featured on Apple`s new iPhone X phone to secure access to online or mobile banking and digital signatures used in banking transactions. Apple’s Face ID feature can also be used to secure remote access to employee data and applications. With HID evolving into more of data-driven company capable of delivering risk-based intelligence, our customers now have an easier way to implement Face ID, using our mobile authentication platform for identity verification.
Glass spent years with other companies before joining the identity security industry. It was while working at these major players that Glass learned how to be a manager. He also learned that customers should always be your main focus, especially when you cannot be the first in to develop a product.
You got your start at Ford Motor Company and later Motorola. How did those experiences prepare you for working at HID Global?
RODNEY GLASS: This is a very interesting question. I cut my teeth at Ford. I learned all about the value of standardization, consistency and pragmatism. Both at Ford and at Motorola, what was ingrained in me was customer focus. Getting the right things done for the customer, no matter what. I have taken that same mentality to my role at HID. As I look back, I also learned through my days at Ford and Motorola that the evolution of an organization is continual. It must be thoughtfully approached, intentional and connected to a larger strategy for transformation. There is no place for complacency, no place for sitting back, as if everything will stay the same. You have to prepare for the future, be ready to respond quickly to market invaders, but, most of all, delight customers with an experience that is better than any competitor and one that connects a remarkable experience emotionally to your brand. Today, customers don’t want excuses. They want a one-click-away experience. Every time a person taps an HID card to a door reader or swipes a mobile banking app that HID secures or fills an electronic prescription that was protected by an HID digital certificate, the customer wants “amazing,” more than they want “first.” Ford was first to mass-produce cars. Motorola was the first to produce a cell phone. HID was the first to make contactless smart cards the de facto standard for physical access control. As time passes, first is not always the most important. A remarkable customer experience is. Being customer-centric is.
Since entering the business world in the mid-1990s, how have you changed as a manager and employee?
RODNEY GLASS: Technology and digital business are moving so fast that I have needed to change over the years. When I got out of college, I sought to take action with certainty, but decision-making needs to be faster today and it needs to be done with a tolerance for a certain degree of uncertainty in exchange for speed. I have become a more educated risk-taker to move our company forward in our efforts of digital transformation. As a manager of teams across operations and business excellence, I have learned to listen to people at every level. That’s how you find the diamonds in the rough; you never know where a great idea will come from. And rather than via command-and-control, I try to manage my teams of smart, hard-working people to live up to their potential and rise up to the level of their role and responsibilities. When I first started out, it was more about me. Now, it’s more about them, and I can coach them, resource them and provide strategic direction, but today it’s more about making my leaders, who report to me, the go-to people, the thought leaders, rather than throwing my weight around. Becoming COO of HID reminded me that I needed to be more of a leader than a manager. I need to guide my teams to do the right things, not just do things right. Then I empower them to run the organization on a day-to-day basis, while I focus on long-term planning and strategic investments to ensure that HID will be where it needs to be years from now.
What has been your greatest achievement so far in the business world?
RODNEY GLASS: I have invested almost a decade of my life to HID Global, because I believe in the company and I have had the opportunity to make a difference. I would say that the greatest achievement that comes to mind is to see the results of my applying three critical and strategic actions across Operations and Business Excellence (OBE) – expanding market presence through customer relevance, increasing product leadership through innovation, and improving cost efficiencies. But even more than my doing it; equipping my team to do it, too. I have been able to multiply my impact through other people for years, and this makes me think that part of my greatest achievement is identifying great people to work for and with me in order to reap the benefits of our company’s three strategic actions. I have been able to operationalize a transformative model or business system that goes beyond ops and quality. In a tangible sense, my system has saved the company more than $100 million, has uncorked new value for customers, and aligned with new innovations that are transforming our industry of identity technologies.
Where do you see your career going in the next 10 years? Will you continue to work in the security arena or do you see yourself looking for a new challenge?
RODNEY GLASS: I believe in the vision of HID to become number one in trusted identity solutions across all areas of mobile access, identity and access management, location services, government-issued citizen IDs (such as the U.S. Green Card, which HID makes), secure issuance, IoT, cloud, and identification technologies. When I look at the next 10 years, I foresee very interesting developments in the identity technology industry in terms of artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, sensors, ubiquitous connectivity, blockchain and a host of new use cases and applications that will require identity verification. In a way, I feel that the last nine years at HID has prepared me for the next 10 years, and it will be nothing short of digital transformation of a traditional company and determining our own destiny before someone else does. Indeed, it’s going to be a wild ride, but it’s the kind of stuff that goes into Harvard business cases. We have an exciting future at HID Global.
Glass wants to leave his mark on the security industry, and with HID Global, he is doing just that. After nearly a decade with the company, Glass is ready to devote the next decade to making the world a more secure place.
Security is vital today, and the industry is booming. Thanks to Glass, HID Global has continued in its role as a world leader. With new technology and innovations emerging from the company’s facilities, HID Global’s status and reputation should remain intact under Glass’s watchful eye.
611 Center Ridge Drive
Austin, TX 78753
By Drew Farmer