Angie Singer Keating has served as president of the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) since the organziation’s annual convention in March. She also took on the role of co-president of the International Secure Information Governance & Management Association (i-SIGMA), the home of NAID and PRISM International, the trade association representing the commercial records and information management (RIM) industry, when the two organizations merged to form i-SIGMA this spring.
In addition to these association leadership roles, she serves as the CEO of Reclamere, Tyrone, Pennsylvania. The firm, which Singer Keating, Joe Harford and Bob Dornich formed in 2001, specializes in securing and destroying information on electronic media as well as in information technology (IT) risk assessment and IT asset value recovery.
When Bob Johnson, i-SIGMA and NAID CEO, introduced Singer Keating as NAID’s president during the convention, he said, “Having been largely responsible for bringing NAID into the realm of electronic media data security over the past decade, Angie’s global reputation uniquely qualifies her to lead the organization.”
Before establishing Reclamere, Singer Keating had worked in the surveying and civil engineering industry. When she lost her job in that sector, Singer Keating completed her degree in electrical engineering at Penn State University. She then began working for an IT company as a project manager for custom software development.
“At that company, I met Joe Harford,” Singer Keating says. “About two years later, we opened the doors at Reclamere, and one of our first clients required data destruction on laptops that they wanted to give away to their staff. Because the client was in the health care industry and due to my experience in software development for health care clients, I was well-versed in HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and all those security requirements. From that point forward, secure data destruction became the driving force of our company strategy.”
Singer Keating attended her first NAID meeting 16 years ago after viewing a NAID member’s website, where she saw a video of the company shredding cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors.
“Naturally, I was horrified,” Singer Keating says of what she saw in that video. “The hazardous materials being released during the shredding process gave me grave concerns for worker safety and the environment. I contacted the company in the hopes of partnering with them on a better way of handling electronic materials.”
Singer Keating says she knew she wanted to join NAID after attending her first NAID conference.
“It became my highest professional goal to work as hard as I could within the association to create an electronic data destruction certification program,” she says. “Reclamere was the first IT asset management company to become a member of NAID. I’m proud to say that the certification criteria for electronic media sanitization was largely taken from the processes that Reclamere had created.”
In the Q&A that follows, Singer Keating shares her goals for NAID and its parent organization, i-SIGMA.
Recycling Today (RT): What have been your primary goals for NAID under your presidency this year?
Angie Singer Keating (ASK): My primary goal was to see the merger through to completion. Now that this has happened, the real hard work begins of setting the course for the new i-SIGMA organization. In some ways it’s like the founding of a new nation. There are so many positive and effective things about both NAID and PRISM that need to be carried forward, so the new organization strategy has to be mindful of those while also creating a framework flexible enough to allow future boards to grow i-SIGMA.
RT: How do you feel about the progress that has been made to date?
ASK: I am pleased to say that the progress, in my opinion, has been even better than I could have ever dared dream. From the positive way that both PRISM and NAID members approved the merger, to the comradery and unity of the combined board at our first face-to-face meeting recently in Baltimore, I continue to be amazed at how well things have gone.
Largely, thanks to Tom Adams (president and chief marketing officer of Flourish Press, Lewiston, New York, and an executive coach and advisor to the RIM industry), Bob Johnson and the NAID staff, we continue to move forward in strategic, cultural and tactical ways. Personally, I’m also grateful to my i-Sigma co-President Christopher Jones, president of PRISM. I had no idea how a combined board would work, particularly a co-presidency. Now, after our work together, I can’t imagine how I could do anything without him.
RT: What NAID initiatives have you been most excited about since becoming president?
ASK: Obviously, the merger will go down for me as one of the most important things to happen during my tenure.
I’m really excited about the possibility of association-sponsored health insurance for members. Due to the law, this wasn’t possible until a recent change. Employee benefit costs, especially health insurance, are a big challenge for our members of all sizes. We are only in the early stages of investigating what is possible for our association, but I’m hoping that it can become a reality that could save our members money.
Another exciting initiative is the possibility of extending the NAID Downstream Data professional liability insurance coverage to PRISM Privacy+ certified companies. Again, this is only in the exploratory stage, but it could be a big way to increase protection from liability to certified members.
And, finally, we are beginning to see more opportunity for i-SIGMA to flex our muscles on the national and world stage in data protection regulations. Making sure that our members’ voices are heard [and] having a seat at the table when laws are written that impact our industry and our clients—these are very important priorities for me.
RT: How would you describe the current environment for information destruction services?
ASK: I see the current environment as quite robust. Nationally, there is an awareness and an appreciation for secure information destruction that has grown tremendously. Form factors get smaller, i.e., smartphones, flash media, etc., but the need for destruction is not diminishing. Clients now ask questions and have expectations about liability, controls and accountability like never before.
On the international front, the European GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) continues to drive awareness and the need for our services. Because so many of our clients are global in nature, even members who may not believe the GDPR applies to them should learn about it. I also view the GDPR as a crystal ball of what future data protection in the U.S. will look like.
In countries outside of the EU (European Union), we are seeing new regulations enacted or being planned. Such regulations will also drive demand in international markets.
RT: How would you characterize the legislative landscape pertaining to information security at the state level in the last year? What legislation has been enacted to benefit companies providing secure destruction services?
ASK: Regarding the state-level legislative landscape, it continues to be a patchwork of regulations that are particularly challenging for any of our members doing business across state lines. And even if a member happens to only do business with clients in their own state, it is challenging if the clients have data belonging to employees or customers from differing states.
It is my personal belief that there needs to be a cohesive national data protection regulation in our country so that organizations aren’t wasting resources trying to comply with all of the individual state regulations. Many of us in the information security industry believe that we will see regulation similar to the GDPR within the next five to 10 years.
The timing is excellent for i-SIGMA to be a strong force in determining the best practices and specific components of the secure destruction and storage stages of the information life cycle.
RT: How have NAID’s certification or accreditation programs evolved in the last few years? Are there plans to further modify these programs?
ASK: I think a couple of the biggest ways that the NAID certification program has changed has to do with the unannounced and random audit program. Instead of just having to be prepared for a scheduled audit, now our certified organizations must be prepared all the time.
My company has been subject to numerous unannounced audits. It really strengthens accountability when we never know when an auditor might be at our door or following one of our trucks.
Another thing I’m very proud of is how our certification program continuously evolves with the ever-changing equipment form factors and media types. The Certification Rules Committee is an active and hardworking group of professionals who take their work seriously.
RT: What do you feel will be the biggest challenge for the information destruction industry in 2019?
ASK: Like practically every industry, our biggest challenge of 2019 will be finding and retaining employees. There simply are not enough people in the workforce today. Add to that the challenges we uniquely face working in a high-security industry, and our pool of potential employees is even smaller.
When the labor market is tight, oftentimes employees will gravitate to employers with the best benefits programs. As an organization, NAID may be able to help our members with an affordable, robust health insurance program. In addition, if the program can include things like vision, dental and short- and/or long-term disability, we could really be in a better position to compete in attracting and retaining the best people to our companies.
As members, we can network with other members to find out how others in our industry are handling this challenge. Whether it’s providing lunch every day as one member told me he does or adding flexible or four-day work weeks as another told me they do or allowing working from home when appropriate for certain positions as we do here at Reclamere—all of these ideas help other members figure out things that might work for them.
RT: What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of being involved with the NAID board? The most rewarding?
ASK: The most challenging aspect of being involved with the NAID board has been finding time to do all the things I want to do for my industry and trade association in the time that I have during my term. There really aren’t enough hours in the day.I am incredibly grateful to be serving at this time, but there just is so much to do. Fortunately, I have one of the most cohesive, energetic and visionary boards in the history of NAID. While I can’t speak for PRISM, I have to believe that my co-President Christopher Jones would say the same thing.
What has been the most rewarding thing for me serving on the board has been when I see the member who contacts me about a concern get involved to promote improvements and change. Nearly all of the people in leadership I know now and have known over the years got involved to make things better.
We have leaders in NAID that work in small, two-person companies up to executives at multinationals. They are all busy, but somehow, they find the time to get involved. The time that these people give to committees, taskforces and the board continuously gratifies me.