Vision in Volumes

Industry Professional

Vision in Volumes

SVP of Global Engineering at HID Global discusses accomplishment, goals, and what he thinks the future holds for the trusted identity

HID Global is a force to be reckoned with. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, the company is a leader in access control, biometrics, RFID tags, embedded solutions, asset tracking, and the list goes on and on. A visit to their facility leaves guests in awe of the sheer size, expertise and preparation that goes into operating a company of such caliber.

The company also manufactures products such as the ID cards, printers and readers that everyone in the security industry and beyond can easily recognize. The company has been around since 1991, when it first started as Hughes Identification Devices, a subsidiary of Hughes Aircraft. Changing their name to HID in 1995 was a game changer, making their brand among the top security companies in the world. And none of that success would be possible without the power of the engineering team.

Enter in Darren Learmonth, senior vice president of Global Engineering. Just like HID Global, his presence in the security industry cannot be ignored. He is friendly, personable, and refreshingly down to earth, and yet there is this intelligence and influence that radiates from him. Simply put, he knows his stuff.

It could be said that Learmonth was destined to work in the security industry. He was sponsored by British Telecom in the United Kingdom to go to university. After a few career changes postgraduate, his first real foray into security was when he began working for Cogent Defence (later becoming EADS) in the UK. Once there, he was hired to create an operating system that could run on custom hardware which would be delivered to the British government.

Fast forward to 2013, and this is when Learmonth began his career with HID. It didn’t take long for him to realize this was the perfect place for him. By January 2016, he was promoted to Senior Vice President of Global Engineering. This meant he would have to move his family from the UK to Austin, Texas. He was up for the challenge and is thriving in his new role. Quickly gaining a reputation as a visionary for the company, he is determined to make HID Global even better.

Taking charge of a team of 450 engineers located in several different countries sounds daunting, but Learmonth hits the ground running.

Since becoming SVP, he’s started a new initiative he calls Innovation Days. This is where he gives each and every engineer one day at an engineering site to focus on nothing but creating something new. It’s a break from their ordinary routine and has been very successful.

“We’ve transformed HID Global this year through innovation,” Learmonth said. “Each engineer has a chance to deliver something new within 24 hours, and it’s become an explosion of creativity with nearly 100 new ideas so far. It’s been transformative.”

One of the biggest accomplishments for Learmonth with HID Global has been the move to mobile, which was first rolled out in 2014 with HID Mobile Access. This solution allows mobile devices to be used for access control. He wants to see that move of trusted identities to mobile devices taken much further.

“I think combining access cards, IDs and passports all on one really cool, neat solution has to be the future,” Learmonth said.

The future of mobile and trusted identities means that we can have our driver’s license, passport, even our season pass to an amusement park all on our phones. There would be no need for having the actual card on hand. Even more amazing is the complete protection of our privacy. For example, if we were trying to buy alcohol at a liquor store and the cashier wanted to see ID, our phone would display only our picture and age. Our address and other information would be left unseen, completely secure.

And, that’s only the beginning. At a time when we want the world at our fingertips, there is relief in knowing that companies such as HID Global are working hard to secure our trusted identities.

Perhaps even more reassuring, however, is also knowing that there are people out there who are creating new innovations in helping achieve that goal of privacy and security. People such as Darren Learmonth. His passion, expertise and vision for the future speak volumes about who he is as a person. It’ll be interesting to see where he takes HID Global from here.

This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of Security Today.

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