Allegion’s business is keeping people safe with a range of products and services from commercial locks to work force productivity systems. Part of Tracy Kemp’s job is keeping that $2 billion business—with 8,000 employees representing 25 brands in 35 countries—running smoothly.
“Unless you are in the information technology field,” said Kemp, vice president and chief information officer for Allegion, “I don’t think people understand how complex it is. People are surprised at the costs and time it takes to implement [IT solutions]. You only hear about it when there’s a breach.”
According to Kemp, IT for a company of Allegion’s size also requires “moving out of the realm of being reactive and being more proactive and more innovative.” As part of Allegion’s executive leadership team, she works with the board of directors to plan for the company’s future. And she was among the executive team that rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange when Allegion began trading as a stand-alone public company.
Kemp traces her problem-solving approach to her youth in Montana. Her dad was an outdoorsman working in logging and mining and Kemp would spend summers working with him.
“It’s atypical for a young girl,” she acknowledged, “but my Dad really didn’t look at gender. He looked at competency. He built that in me.”
Her interest in fixing things led her to a computer science and mathematics degree from Oklahoma Christian University. From there, she spent 18 years in information technology positions at Eli Lilly and Co. before moving on to Ingersoll Rand in 2013. In addition to working as CIO for Ingersoll’s Security Technologies and Residential Solutions unit, she served as chairwoman for its Women’s Network, which signed on over 2,400 employees as members through 15 chapters, including one in China and another in India.
Among her other accomplishments at Ingersoll Rand was the creation of an employee engagement program that helped turn those within the company into stronger advocates with consumers by educating them on products and operations. She also was a leader in cross-company PDI Council which helped develop long-range plans.
When Allegion was spun off from Ingersoll Rand last year, it meant over 100 contracts to be renegotiated, data centers to be housed, and a long list of software decisions to be made. She credits her team, of course. But behind every effective team, there’s a strong leader.
“I emphasize project teams,” she said. “I don’t have all of the answers so I put together teams with different styles and skills that I don’t have. I listen a lot. I set standards. And I hold them accountable. It sounds simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.”
Active in her church children’s ministry, Kemp also likes to involve her three daughters in her outreach work, including such projects as Kids Against Hunger, which packages meals for those less fortunate, and the Allegion House, built through Habitat for Humanity.•
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