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Don't wait for students to graduate, develop your own training program

Kacy Zurkus | June 13, 2016
You know the skills you need for your enterprise, so you build the curriculum and train new recruits

There's been a lot of talk in the security world about the growing concern around the shortage of cyber security prosand lack of talent at a critical time where so much is done through or connected to the internet-and that is only going to increase.

Rather than sit around and hope that more cyber security pros will be spun out of universities, Optiv, took the bull by the horns and developed a curriculum of training and hands-on work experience that helps build the foundation needed to pursue opportunities in cyber security within the company.

The associates program designed to address entry-level talent serves as a bridge for those who are able to successfully completely the rigorous training program. "Essentially, anyone with an aptitude for security, technical basics in networking, troubleshooting skills, good communication and writing skills, positive attitude and personal initiative, and a strong desire to work in cyber security qualifies them, but continuation requires successful completion of key milestones in the first 90 days," said David Brown, senior director services enablement, Optiv.

As is the case with many enterprises, Optiv is looking for those who have what they have defined as core skills and attributes for their business to serve as a baseline. "From there we can build on the skills they need to become a consultant," Brown said.


Most of the candidates are coming out of IT specific or cyber programs, and some areformer military transitioning. "They are coming out with a set of core skills, which includes a much broader range than people might think, and we can then build on those skills. Others are career changers, those who have been on a service desk for a few years and want to expand," said Brown.

The set of core skills that would make candidates attractive to Optiv range from communications, commmunications security, cryptography, operations security, intelligence gathering and analysis, and even some from the logistic areas. 

The two year associate program ensures a constant improvement process. "Every cycle, every class, we learn something to improve upon. Just as we grow as a company we grow the training program too," Brown said.

Rigor and intensity seem to be appropriate adjectives to describe the training program as the first 90 are focused on training with a combination of classroom, e-learning, and practical exercises.

"Then they move into one of the consulting practice areas. They actually start to work with our senior consultants on delivery. By the time they come out, they are trained and qualified on certain levels of engagements because they have worked with senior-level people to build to that next step," Brown said.

Because there are only a limited number of cyber high level practitioners, teaming gives Optiv the capability to scale and at the same time grow that new talent. "The teaming arrangement nurtures the mentor-mentee relationship, which is absolutely beneficial. The mentors enjoy sharing their knowledge," said Brown.


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