This is another in a series of interviews with working LP professionals who have earned their LPQ or LPC certifications from the Loss Prevention Foundation (LPF) to hear in their own words why they pursued certification and how it has benefited their careers.
Why did you decide to pursue the LPC certification?
Our company believes in the education and development of our associates and made the decision to invest in the certification opportunity for some members of our asset protection team. I was excited to have been selected and enthusiastically agreed to begin the course. I enrolled in the program last year and was certified LPC in June 2014.
Was the course what you expected?
Actually, the course was not what I expected. I was somewhat apprehensive about investing so much time exploring something I had already been doing professionally for years. But I was pleasantly surprised when the first few chapters focused on team building, training, and recruitment.
To be fully transparent, I had expected the process to be a somewhat monotonous review of endless equations and statistics. Instead, I found myself scribbling notes and highlighting quotes about soft skills I never even realized added such value to a high-performing loss prevention team. It helped to know that many industry practitioners struggled with some of the same gaps I was seeing, and I began incorporating the material into my business on the first day of enrollment.
Tell us more about going through the courses and taking the exam.
I quickly realized the value of leveraging the resources made available by the LPF to help me through the program. I began routinely using the Study Gopher notes as I worked through the courses, which really helped. I also tried to get through the chapters at a steady and realistic pace, which helped me to absorb the information while continuing to move forward. The ability to advance or go back to certain content areas was definitely something that helped with the process and was relatively unique to the LPC method. Having a timeline for completion and knowing that I would be certified by a goal date I set for myself also helped me to progress.
The exam wasn’t easy, but it makes the certification that much more legitimate in my mind. It’s something that you have to earn, and that’s the way it should be.
Looking at your own personal development, what information within the course helped you the most?
I still refer back to the team-building pieces often. There’s something about building a productive and professional LP team that’s different than in any other industry. The LPC course helped me to see the advantages of that uniqueness, and provided direction on how to capitalize on it. I also valued the training that came with learning some of the different approaches taken by other retailers, from distribution to inventory calculations. I have only worked with one company from an LP perspective, and having the opportunity to expand that knowledge base has been invaluable during both networking interactions and in developing creative solutions to problems within my own environment.
What part of the curriculum was the most eye-opening?
The amount of government oversight and the various regulations that are involved in what we do every day was staggering. I knew it was there, but taking the time to read about each entity’s role and responsibility gave me an even greater appreciation, and brought the importance of our function to a new light.
What benefits have you seen from taking the course?
The course helped me to see the field of loss prevention from a more global perspective. You never know what will happen within your area of responsibility, but the certification process provided a learning experience that presents sound and relevant guidelines that will help today, and will continue to help guide decisions in the future. I feel like I’m better equipped to not only excel at the services I’m paid to provide, but to be a resource for my team and my customers.
I now approach decisions with a more creative mindset. I know that there are different ways to get a job done from an LP perspective, and that the way I’ve always done things may not be the best way to continue doing them. That reflection and flexibility will make me a better professional and a stronger leader.
The issues we face as LP professionals are so complex, unique, and impactful in scope that we sometimes think we’re isolated from other creative, collaborative forces. I’m a better LP professional after getting certified because I’ve realized that these problems aren’t new. They’re exciting, challenging ways to grow our business and move into the future.
How has certification changed your expectations of loss prevention as a career?
Like most LP professionals, I didn’t initially have this in mind as a long-term career goal. I have grown in the LP role, and it has grown on me. Now with the LPC certification, I’ve had the advantage of seeing the progression of LP as a profession throughout the industry. There’s a certain camaraderie in seeing an “LPC” behind someone’s name.
It is definitely something that I would recommend to others. We are so busy in today’s environment. We make countless investments in our team, in our stores, in our security measures, and in so many other aspects of what we do. At what point do you decide you need to set time aside to invest in yourself and your own development? The courage and dedication it takes to work through a self-development certification isn’t something that will go unnoticed. I’ve noticed what it’s done for me, and that’s a good place to start.
Christyn Keef, LPC, has worked in the retail industry for thirteen years and in the loss prevention realm for the past eight. She began her career with Walmart Stores, while attending the University of Florida. Keef is currently a regional asset protection senior manager for Walmart large formats in North and Central Florida. She has a bachelor of science in history from the University of Florida.