Kirsten Benefiel’s historic role in the security industry
2020 CEO of the Year Finalist: Benefiel became the only female CEO at the top 25 firms in the security industry
Kirsten Benefiel, CEO
When she took the reins at HSS in early 2020 after serving as COO, Benefiel, 46, became the only female CEO at the top 25 firms in the security industry.
As COO, she helped develop a new strategy for the 3,500-employee security provider, which launched as a nonprofit hospital vendor in 1967 before reorganizing as a for-profit business a decade ago. She’s now putting her plan into action.
Benefiel’s “road map” charts a course to grow beyond traditional manned security into adjacent value-added services. “Manned security is becoming very commoditized,” she says, “and manned security isn’t the future of security.”
It follows that HSS is broadening its technology portfolio. One new product, Spotlight, helps secure medical devices. “We already have technicians, so we’re able to add on these services and really be an integrator for our customers.”
With the pandemic, HSS has seen volatile demand from different sectors, but the company’s staff has been able to effectively respond, Benefiel says. “We say we’re keeping the excitement out of security,” she cracks. “If there’s one area you don’t want a lot of excitement, it’s security.”
Benefiel says leadership is about “empowerment and listening.” She keeps a notebook full of the lessons she learned over the course of previous career stops at ViaWest, Newmont Mining and other companies.
Former Newmont CEO Richard T. O’Brien shared some indelible words of wisdom: “Never confuse yourself with the role,” Benefiel says. “He was reminding us that leadership positions are just that — they’re positions. Your self-worth isn’t tied to your job title, so how you treat people and how you show is what’s most important to demonstrate leadership.”
This article is part of ColoradoBiz Magazine’s annual CEO of the Year feature. Read more about this year’s winner Kurt Culbertson and the other finalists: