Ben Guffey, senior partner at King Rogers Incorporated and former vice president of loss prevention at Kmart, acknowledges that climbing the corporate ladder as someone from Mexican-Irish descent has occasionally surprised people. “You don’t look like a ‘Guffey’,” said one corporate president who was interviewing him for an upper management job.
“As a minority, when you encounter someone who is biased, don’t allow yourself to get too distracted,” says Guffey. “Work through it and get on with doing the job.”
Looking over Guffey’s resume you realize he is someone who has always had a vision and was focused on what he wanted to do. Guffey moved his way up from store detective to regional manager and eventually to vice president at various retailers. Guffey admits the keys to his success came from having an internal drive to be in a top position plus the credentials to get there. Being someone in the minority, Guffey realizes you may have to work harder to overcome obstacles. “But keeping your eye on your competence is how you’ll succeed,” says Guffey.
Education and professional accreditation can be critical assets when competing in the growing field of loss prevention, whether you’re in the majority or in the minority. A bachelor of science and master’s degree in criminal justice not only helped Guffey get an edge when up against other competent professionals, but it also helped him deal with senior-level executives and understand their perspectives.
“You need to be able to relate to all levels of the company to do your job well,” Guffey says. “But if you want to be promoted, you need to know what and how upper management sees the world. Being able to connect to them shows them you’re someone they can relate to.”
Guffey also earned his certified protection professional (CPP) credentials. “The education and management experience that qualifies you to take the exams helps open doors,” says Guffey. “It also set’s you apart from others who are competing for the same position.”
According to Guffey, only about 25 percent of LP professionals have their CPP credentials. Achieving this industry standard may provide the edge needed to stand out.
Guffey also believes continuing to gain knowledge throughout one’s career positions a person for success. He recommends participating in loss prevention events and committees associated with the National Retail Federation, International Mass Retail Association, or American Society for Industrial Security. Getting involved in your own company’s initiatives is also critical in order to gain recognition and make a larger contribution. Participating in company-wide projects or workgroups helps others see your expertise goes beyond LP.
Those who want to begin more modestly can start within your own department by taking the lead on an initiative that eventually gets shared with others. Expanding your circle of influence showcases a person’s courage and skills regardless of any real or perceived obstacle.
This is excerpted from a May 2002 article entitled “The Many Faces of Loss Prevention.