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Students and Alumni

Poole Alumnus Camden Willeford (’17) Soars at Security Startup

Willeford credits Poole's high-impact experiences, including internships and practicums, as a big part of his success as business intelligence manager at Flock Safety.

Poole College alumnus Camden Willeford
Poole College alumnus Camden Willeford.

By Jess Clarke

Poole College alumnus Camden Willeford has learned that it’s possible to make a bigger impact at a smaller company than with an international brand that has a huge footprint.

The high-growth startup where he’s manager of business intelligence, Flock Safety, is making a significant difference in addressing crime around the United States.

The Atlanta-based company makes security cameras and audio detection devices. Its signature product is automated license plate readers. “Our mission is to eliminate crime, which is a bold mission,” Willeford says.

Although that is an ambitious goal, Flock’s influence in the crime field is increasingly widespread.

The company’s license plate readers helped solve 10% of reported crimes in the U.S., based on a customer survey conducted between April and June 2023. That’s according to results of an analysis published in February on Flock’s website.

“Machine learning on our devices helps lower our costs and increases our ability to catch the bad guys,” says Willeford, a 2017 Poole business administration major.   

“What sets us apart is that we own the process from end to end,” by developing, installing and maintaining devices and providing customer support, he says. “They’re good products. They do good for the world.” 

Flock’s market share began with homeowners’ associations and neighborhood security groups, broadened into law enforcement, and now is expanding into the commercial sector with big-box stores and other businesses.

Willeford and the three engineers he manages support that expansion.

His team created a dashboard to monitor whether or not Flock’s devices are online, uploading data and working in the real world. “It’s a full-circle feedback loop with the impact we’re having on business stakeholders and on the product in the field. It’s very cool to be part of,” he says. “For customers, we’re creating a single source of reliable metrics.”

Before he joined Flock two years ago, Willeford was an analytics leader for flight operations at Delta Air Lines.

But Flock is where he has really taken off.

In his free time, Willeford is a drummer in a local band in the Atlanta area.

“With any startup, it’s awesome to be on the ground floor. Going horizontal, you get to touch a lot of parts of the business. Everything my team touches is so high-impact,” Willeford says.

What his team touches includes onboarding new tools, data engineering and visualization, and product management. Their work improves processes for operations, finance and other Flock departments. “The personal growth has been great,” Willeford says.

He benefited from personal growth at Poole, too.

His most impactful courses featured hands-on opportunities that provided tangible experiences: group projects, practicums, internships.

He cites a digital marketing class in which his team used Google AdWords to create a company’s campaign, building Excel models in an IT-related course, and working with case studies in another class.  

A valuable takeaway from his time at Poole was the accessibility of faculty to talk about academics, jobs — even personal issues. “Most professors were truly invested in the work they were doing to help you move along,” Willeford says.

Poole prepared him well for graduate school at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, where he earned a master’s in quantitative management.

Poole also helped mold him into a workplace leader.

One of his career highlights was at Delta, where 20 colleagues nominated him for an award for employees who make an impact. “They said, ‘He really helped me achieve x, or he’s a great person to have in your corner,” Willeford says. “That made me feel like I was doing the right thing, helping people improve in their jobs and their lives.”

Another highlight is the Flock analytics system his team envisioned, engineered and now maintains.

“We’re on the cutting edge by using software that developers use to do code. We’ve deployed a new front-end tool, a new back-end tool and a new code base that uses open source,” he says.

That technical expertise helps power Flock’s success in addressing crime, which has far-reaching effects.

“You can decide how you want to spend your time in analytics. If you want to help McDonald’s sell more burgers, awesome,” Willeford says.

“Helping the world be safer is definitely a good thing for society,” he notes. “The products we’re building and people we’re helping create a perfect harmony when it comes to fulfillment in a job.”