Q&A With The Monitoring Association's Monitoring Center Manager of the Year
Carmelo Mosca of Affiliated Monitoring explains how to find — and keep — the right employees.
Carmelo Mosca has truly climbed the ranks of Affiliated Monitoring Inc., a Union, N.J.-based monitoring center. Since starting out as a monitoring center operator 25 years ago, Mosca has worked as a monitoring center supervisor, trainer and manager of monitoring technologies before taking on his current role as Affiliated’s managing director of monitoring operations nine years ago. Through all of these varied experiences, Mosca has gained a unique perspective on what it takes to succeed in each role, and has been able to find and keep the right employees because of it.
SDM Monitoring Today talked to him about the different programs he has implemented at Affiliated, including mentorship and high school work-study programs, and why he has stayed in the monitoring industry all these years.
SDM: What made you first take a job at an alarm monitoring center? Did you have an eye on a career in the industry, or was it just simply a job then?
Mosca: At that point I was attending a local college and it was a close part-time job.
SDM: You began as a monitoring center operator, and went on to fill multiple other roles at the station before landing the one you have now a decade ago. What has the experience of having gone through many of the different ranks brought to your management style?
Mosca: I think it’s just given me the ability to see the other side. Having moved up through the ranks, I always can appreciate what everyone is doing and what their challenges are, and what they face every day.
SDM: Why have you stayed in the industry for so long?
Mosca: It’s ever-changing and never boring. Beyond just the industry, a big part of it is Affiliated and the opportunity that I’ve had here, the ability to grow.
SDM: When hiring new employees, how do you find the sorts of applicants you’re looking for — organized, disciplined candidates with creative problem-solving skills?
Mosca: Affiliated has a pretty extensive screening process, which involves actual problem-solving testing and other skill assessments. Of course, it’s also a matter of meeting people and looking at their work history, and determining if they meet that criteria. It’s certainly not the job for everyone, but we go through a lot of processes to make sure we get the right people.
SDM: You recently spearheaded a drive to use e-learning assessment tools to better understand how monitoring specialist candidates were progressing — what have you found from that so far?
Mosca: That’s been great. It really allows us to take what we were doing in those assessments and kind of accelerate it. Also it kind of helped us with making sure everyone is hitting all the educational milestones they need to hit.
SDM: Tell me more about Affiliated’s mentorship program.
Mosca: The concept there is to take our best and brightest people and almost try to clone them. We want new people to turn into those great people and we do that by sitting them with a group of people we call mentors, and there’s a one-to-one relationship there. They mentor them on the job of course, but also for other things. It’s kind of like the lifestyle here at Affiliated — where the lunch room is and where to order lunch and how to handle certain HR situations. It’s worked out well for us because the primary thing, besides creating better prepared employees, is they like the job better when they’re welcomed a little bit more quickly into the fold.
SDM: What types of things do you do to ensure the people who work for you are happy?
Mosca: We try to reward often for great performance, and we have company-sponsored events, whether it’s as simple as going out for lunch or something a bit more involved. Recently we took our management group to a golf outing, which was fun. And usually every holiday we’ll have some type of party where all of the different departments can come together and have a great time.
SDM: You host high school work-study students — how do you teach them about the industry while keeping them interested?
Mosca: It is a challenge because while it’s becoming more well known, this industry is not that well known — I don’t think many in high school are looking at this as a career, as I wasn’t. But we try to keep them interested by exposing them to different aspects of the job, whether it’s in the monitoring center or other departments, just to keep it varied so they’re not lingering in any one place for too long. I don’t know how many of these folks are going to go on to work in the security industry, but I think we give them a broad enough view of just business in general and customer service specifically, that I think they can learn something here that they can bring with them for their careers going forward, no matter what that career may be.
SDM: Monitoring centers can be a stressful environment. How do you remain a voice of calm and reason?
Mosca: It’s my natural demeanor, but I think we also need to understand that it’s the best way for a person in a leadership role to deal with a situation. Regardless of the situation, you need to be that calm voice and that calm influence — I think that is a big part of what any managers do. Just lead by example, especially in those times where there is a stressful situation. I try to go the extra mile to make sure I remain calm and can make decisions calmly, and not just react to a situation.
SDM: You worked at Affiliated through the September 11th attacks, Hurricane Sandy and many more disasters. What is your advice for those working in monitoring centers when dealing with tragedies like these?
Mosca: Just never lose sight that everyone we’re working with and working for are human beings. It’s always important to see their side and to really just be there for them and show them compassion.