Executive Q&A Series: Keith Prewitt

March 26, 2014 0 comments Executive Q&A

At Arthur Diamond Associates we spend a lot of time talking to business leaders and industry influencers. This is our monthly Q&A that shares insights from executives at the top of their game.

This month, we talk to Keith Prewitt, the President of Harvard Protection Services and Harvard Enterprise Risk Solutions and former Deputy Director of the United States Secret Service.

What attracted you to your current position?

It really was a combination of things. I was the Deputy Director of the United States Secret Service before I came on to Harvard two years ago, and honestly, my personal association with Bart Ribakow (of Arthur Diamond Associates) opened the door, which allowed the opportunity to meet my current boss, Stan Doobin, who was a client of Bart’s. Stan and I had a meeting to just share ideas and to discuss some of the best practice strategies that I had learned and employed from my 36 years in law enforcement. Our personalities just clicked and the rest is history.

What trends do you see impacting the industry you are in, in 2-4 years?

Not just germane to this industry, the evolution of cyber-crime and conducting business in the virtual world; everything from network intrusions, identity theft breaches, illicit hacking—it can adversely impact any organization’s intellectual property and critical infrastructure. In my former life at the Secret Service we had a responsibility to investigate these crimes statutorily, and now I am leveraging that acumen by offering these strategic security solutions to Harvard’s clients.

Who has been your mentor?

I’ve had several mentors, from my former colleagues at the Memphis Police Department and the Secret Service to people on Capitol Hill and at the White House. But in my current role I’d have to say Stan Doobin, the President and CEO of our company and also Bart Ribakow. They’ve taught me tremendous lessons regarding the discipline and patience one must have to build coalitions in the private sector environment, as well as the fundamentals of profit and loss, which is an entirely different dynamic compared to the public service arena where I’d spent most of my career.

What is the best piece of career advice you’ve received?

I’m almost 60 years old, and people ask me “how did you become Deputy Director of the Secret Service or President of a private sector company”, and I tell them that my motto is “every day is training day.” Lead by example and trust and empower those that work with you. I place the emphasis on working with you instead of for you—it’s a common sense approach that has served me well. 

What was your first job?

My first real job was as a police officer in Memphis, but in 1973 while in college and playing football, I was recruited to work at night for a small up-and-coming company called Federal Express. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if I had stayed with them!

What accomplishments are you most proud of at Harvard Protection Services?

I came to the organization as a Senior Vice President. Through the contributions I have made to date, company ownership promoted me to President and empowered me to have oversight and provide strategic leadership for two companies within the Doobin Family Companies Enterprise—Harvard Protection Services and Harvard Enterprise Risk Solutions. I’m very happy to have the trust and confidence of ownership to redefine these companies and enhance our visibility in this industry, as well as provide significant value added for our clients.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

They can usually tell that I played football and do weightlifting and probably have a law enforcement background, but I also like to spend a lot of time in the garden doing landscaping. I enjoy playing golf and I am an un-paid board member for a few charitable organizations.

What’s next for Harvard Protection Services?

Next on the horizon is expanding the client base of Harvard Enterprise Risk Solutions as well as implementing the remainder of our strategic plan initiatives to grow both domestically and internationally. That’s all on track to come to fruition in 2016. We’re taking slow and methodical steps to make sure we achieve our objectives.

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