5 Questions for ISF President Rich Davis
Rich Davis, Managing Director, Global Security for United Airlines, became ISF President following the November 2017 ISF 5th Annual OSAC Appreciation Dinner.
We asked Rich to share insight gained from his considerable security industry experience and expertise.
What’s the biggest security challenge facing the aviation industry?
“The biggest challenge that we, as an aviation community, face is the persistent effort of our enemies to attack us in catastrophic ways. The effort to confront our enemies and defeat their efforts is an immense undertaking and a collaborative one made up of airlines, airports, contractors, governments and the intelligence communities. It is a task that has no room for competition and breeds an incredible team effort, an effort that we are all proud of.”
What lesson did you learn during 9/11 and how has it shaped your work since?
“The 9/11 tragedy probably shaped all of us, not only security professionals but everyone. The unthinkable occurred and it was an event that brought on the realization that everyone must constantly be aware of their surroundings and always focus on their safety and security.”
How does OSAC help you do your job at United Airlines?
OSAC plays an incredibly important role for United Airlines. We have hundreds to thousands of employees abroad every day of the year. OSAC provides timely pushes of analysis and information from its analytical staff, regular OSAC security benchmarking discussions on the various Country, Regional and Common Interest Councils of which United Airlines is a member, as well as trainings, webinars, conferences and annual briefings. This critical information helps me and my team do our jobs on a daily basis and keep our employees aware of worldly events.”
Why is ISF critical to OSAC?
“ISF helps provide the much-needed funding and logistical support to make these critical information exchanges happen in support of OSAC efforts around the globe. ISF has proven to be an effort that has allowed OSAC to more easily meet ever-increasing needs for security information exchange and educational programs around the world. This is a result of the generosity of our corporate and individual sponsors that support us every year. As the current ISF President, I am so privileged to lead a team effort made up of some of the finest people in our industry who all share the same passion for making the ISF as strong as we can.”
How did you get into the security industry?
“You will all probably laugh at this, but starting in 1971, I worked for a company that supplied the ushers and usherettes for sports, concerts and other events in Chicago, a dream job for a 16-year-old. When President Nixon ordered airport security in 1973, Chicago hired the company I worked for to provide the security. I was frequently sent to O’Hare to be a screener. I wasn’t happy because I was missing games and concerts. After college, I went into the headquarters of that company and in 1977, I was assigned to run the O’Hare operation. United hired me in 1978, and I moved into the security department shortly after the Pan Am 103 tragedy.
Fun Fact: Rich’s dad was a baseball executive and, for years, oversaw scouting for the Chicago White Sox. Rich estimates that he has attended 25 World Series and 2,000 White Sox and cubs games. (As a die-hard Sox fan, he insists on the lowercase “c” for the Chicago Cubs.) His favorite game? “The most recent Game 5 of the 2016 World Series at Chicago’s Wrigley Field because it kept another cub fan from being there.”
What he learned from his father’s eye for baseball: “A baseball scout’s role is not only recognizing physical talent but recognizing character in those individuals. If you have that ability to see that trait in people, you are blessed.”
Pictured here with ISF Executive Director Peggy O’Neill and James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence (2010-17) and Keynote Speaker for the ISF 5th Annual OSAC Appreciation Dinner in November 2017. Rich, who is well-loved by his security industry colleagues, serves as the emcee for the ISF dinners.
Thank you, Rich, for your service to ISF, OSAC and the security industry!