Pam Petrow and Vector Security adapt to new technology

“We would not be relevant today if we didn’t find good partners to help us deliver the services that consumers are expecting. We couldn’t do it. I mean, we couldn’t do it and make money,” she says.

Because the products and services Vector offers are more complex, it automates what it can.

“We’ll automate it, if it doesn’t sacrifice the quality of service to the customer,” Petrow says. “Sometimes, it actually improves it, and then we try to use those resources differently to create a better customer experience or to create a new product or service offering. It’s amazing because stuff we said we’d never be able to automate, today we can automate. The technology has created lots of opportunities just as it’s created some challenges.”

Although rapid change can be scary, Petrow says there are opportunities to explore.

“Don’t be frozen by the fear. Make sure that you’re looking for the upside opportunities as well because that’s what happens with a lot of companies,” she says. “They are so afraid of the unknown that they don’t do anything. They wait too long and then they’re overcome by new players. You have to embrace it and you have to figure out where your place is — you make your place in it or you’re going to be irrelevant.”

 

Takeaways:

  • Make decisions faster, including moving on from your mistakes.
  • Technology creates as many opportunities as it does challenges.
  • A changing market requires a matching shift in operations.

 

The Petrow File:

Name: Pam Petrow
Title: President and CEO
Company: Vector Security

Born: Pittsburgh
Education: Bachelor’s in business administration, dual track marketing and management, from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania

What was it like attending Harvard University’s Advanced Management Program? It was incredible, and humbling because there are so many smart people from all over the world. Harvard teaches by case studies, so you do a lot of studying and reading and then talk about it as a group.

I tend to be the kind of person who likes to be right. Harvard taught me there is no right answer. I would come in thinking I had thought about this from every different angle and that I had the right answer — that was important to me. Then I’d sit in class, and there would be 10 other answers that I hadn’t even considered.

My biggest takeaway was don’t be so narrow minded in your approach to things and surround yourself with people who are different from you so that you have an opportunity to see things you wouldn’t see on your own.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it? I grew up in South Fayette Township in the South Hills. My grandparents owned a neighborhood grocery store, so from the time that we could use the stamper to stamp cans, we worked. We shelved inventory, worked the penny candy counter, cashiered and ran the meat counter when we were older. It was a great opportunity to develop a work ethic. I also learned the value of money and earning what you wanted — if I wanted a bike, I used my money.

Even though I don’t own Vector, I treat it just like I did our store, that it’s my business and what I do is a reflection on me personally as well as the organization.

What do you like to do when you’re not working? I love to cook. It’s something that I do to relax. It’s something that I’ve done with my son who is at Penn State now. I’m a real foodie and I’m really into grocery shopping. My husband gets frustrated. I could spend hours in the grocery store.