D avid  B oultbee
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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Life Imitates Art

In my novel The Gender Divide the protagonist Ryan Peters is hired as the VP of Security for a biotech firm. One of the first things that he does is centralize security by combining a number of disparate systems into one.  There are a number of high tech twists involved in the process, given that The Gender Divide is a science fiction novel, but the overarching goal is to make the process of security simpler for both employees and those responsible for it.

The premise behind The Gender Divide is that women live four times as long as men and resultantly women dominate the executive ranks. The raison d’être for centralization of security in the novel is to legitimize Ryan as a viable choice for the position of VP of Security, a position previously held by a woman.

However as an author this was driven by my real life experiences at the time. The company I worked for had a security system using mag cards but the cards were generic cards embossed with the logo of the security company. The head office, on the other hand, used personalized badges with the employees picture on it. As a result I needed two sets of security badges, one for office where I worked and one for the head office. Admittedly this wasn’t very onerous as I didn’t travel to the head office that frequently but it was irritating.

Consequently I was both amused and delighted to come across this article about security:

It’s the crowning achievement in a security evolution for Telus, which has spent the past five years developing its key cards. They eliminate a gaggle of distinct security systems, inherited in a series of acquisitions, that required Telus employees who visited multiple locations across Canada to carry a stack of access cards.

In the novel Ryan’s transformation only took a month but such is the beauty of writing fiction. Of course the environment that Ryan was working under was different as the company had just experienced a rather costly security breach. It is always much easier to make modifications in a time of crisis, when objections to changes to the status quo are notably absent. Also the change was only made at the head office and not at other locations.

One could argue that Ryan’s accomplishment in the novel was also his crowning achievement - at least in terms of his role as VP of Security - but the real crowning achievement was the change in culture at the company. This change enabled Ryan to position himself as a credible male in a female dominated world and like any change at the top it had a trickle down effect. It also cemented his role as a leader and his ability to rally the beleaguered and disillusioned security staff. As Olivia, one of the other main characters in the novel, says:

Ryan hadn’t just built up the security infrastructure in the last month—he had built himself a team, too.

As interesting as this is, it is just the tip of the iceberg. Exploring the premise of The Gender Divide is even more interesting. I just checked out Amazon.com and noticed a new 5 star reader review which sums it up nicely - Scary Wow!. There is an Excerpt of Chapter 1 available and for those of you interested in more here are places to buy.

posted by David at 2:18 pm  

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