Employee Spotlight | Bob Bischan

By |2024-02-15T15:21:24-06:00February 15th, 2024|

Bob Bischan – Senior Software Engineer

The spotlight this month is on Bob Bischan, our Senior Software Engineer in the development department in our St. Louis Office!  Our staff spotlights are a great place to learn about the careers, passions, and personalities of our amazing team.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role at the company?

A: I’m originally from the St. Louis area, but have been living in Belleville, IL since leaving the military back in 1996. I’m a proud father of three grown daughters and have seven wonderful grandchildren to keep me busy! 

I’m also lucky enough to have an incredible partner in life, who challenges me to grow, encourages me when needed, and has been by my side through times of joy and struggle.

Q: How long have you been a part of the Watchtower Security team, and what initially drew you to this company?

A: I have been working for Watchtower for almost 15 years now. The path to Watchtower was on the heels of losing my job during the 2007-2008 financial crisis. It was an incredibly challenging time for me and many others; finding a job posting seeking someone with experience with “Axis Cameras” was where it all began. Prior to losing my job, I had been working in the security systems industry for over 10 years and was very familiar with Axis cameras. Watchtower was a perfect fit and I was fortunate enough to be offered the job! Over the years I have served in several roles at Watchtower, worn the hats needed at the time and now work as a Senior Software Engineer in the development department.

Q: What path did you take to get to your current role? Have you always been in this industry, or did you come from a different background?

A: My professional career started with 9 years of service in the U.S. Army. During my time in the military, I learned a lot about discipline, teamwork, how to properly make a bed, and a sense of being part of something larger than myself. I was afforded the opportunity to receive specialized training in 2 different occupational specialties during my career. The first specialty was in “radio communications”, which I served in for the first half of my career. The remainder of my time in the military was spent as a prime power production specialist in a small and very specialized unit assigned to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. We provided critical power generation/distribution services for FEMA, and DOD and deployed whenever there was a large deployment of US forces overseas. Tours of duty included time in Texas, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Kentucky, and overseas in Korea, Somalia, Honduras, and Guantanamo Bay Cuba.

Q: Are there any pivotal moments or experiences that have shaped your career trajectory?

A: My first civilian job after leaving military service was working for a security systems integrator doing everything from installing/servicing systems to managing large-scale access control and video surveillance systems. Since then, I have remained in the field of physical security, other than a short 1-year stint working for a company that specialized in electrical system engineering and testing services. I am very hands-on oriented, not afraid of physical work and I have always been curious about how things work. The “being curious” part is how I ended up in the software development side of this business.

Q: Can you share a particularly memorable achievement or project you’re proud to have been a part of?

A: Being the B in “BVR” has been an honor and something I will always be proud of. I’m glad I was able to make that contribution. I’m proud that others have extended and enhanced the BVR in ways that I could have never done alone!

Q: How do you collaborate with other team members or departments to achieve common goals?

A: I genuinely enjoy the collaboration within and between Watchtower departments. The development department is in constant communication with all internal teams/departments to identify ways we can improve the service or staff’s delivery of service to customers. As the company evolves, we strive to be in a state of growth, enhancement, and expansion. We continuously assess internal and external needs through collaboration at every level. 

From our front-line reviewers, service, sales, management, and customers, we seek to improve the Watchtower Security experience.

Q: How does the company support your ongoing learning and professional growth?

A: Our management team in the Development Department regularly schedules team lunches where we watch videos/presentations about new and emerging technologies. 

Management has also been very good at encouraging professional development for everyone in the department. They allocate time and resources so that everyone has an opportunity to grow.

Our whole department recently participated in a local software developers conference, “DevUp”, which was a great team-building opportunity, as well as a chance to meet other professionals in our industry.    

Q: Outside of work, what are some of your hobbies or interests? How do you balance your personal passions with your professional life?

A: I love the outdoors, enjoy taking long walks, like to travel, and love live music. I recently discovered the joys of introducing my three teen grandchildren to “real” music at outdoor concerts celebrating artists like Santana and Fleetwood Mac. Even though the music – and most of the crowd – was well past “vintage”, the teens loved the concert experience!

The year I joined Watchtower, I began practicing Seidokan Aikido. One of the primary tenets of this style of martial arts is based on the idea of “loving protection for all things”. Having a regular, physical, intellectual, and social practice focused on self-control has served me well through life’s inevitable challenges. 

In retrospect, I find that my experience at Watchtower and my personal Aikido practice have continued to refine and shape my respect and compassion for myself and others. Some of my favorite Aikido core principles can be applied to all of life’s areas – at home, at work, and in the community.

Q: Is there a particular quote, book, or piece of advice that resonates with you and influences your approach to work and life?

A: “The Art of Peace begins with you…” 

– Morihei Useshiba (Founder of Aikido)

“If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right.”

“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”

Q: What do you enjoy most about the company culture here? How do you feel your values align with those of the organization?

A: What we do is important work! 

Providing safe and secure living environments, especially to at-risk and underserved communities, is critical to the health of individuals, families, and communities. Watchtower is an important part of public safety and helps build relationships between law enforcement and residents of protected areas. Providing security as a service allows property owners to protect families with high-quality video surveillance and efficient methods to use that video when responding to security incidents. As Watchtower employees we should all be proud to play a role in delivering this service!  

I enjoy and respect the philanthropic work that Watchtower and its associates do on a continual basis. From individual drives for families in need, to food banks and of course, Watchtower’s Towers of Excellence mentorship program, the Watchtower family extends itself in tangible ways to individuals and communities.

Q: Are there any unique traditions, events, or initiatives at the company that you’ve found especially meaningful?

A: I have faith in the Watchtower mission; I knew they would succeed years ago because they had a solid business plan and I believe in the value of video security in supporting public safety. In the final chapter of my career, I would thoroughly enjoy spending it all with Watchtower. I believe our work is important and I get a lot of satisfaction knowing the work I do for internal and external customers helps to grow the company and make safety and security a reality for our customers.