What roles can benefit from CISO coaching at a university?

+ Chris Schreiber
(September 16, 2021)
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The CISO is a vital role in most organizations, and higher education is no exception. CISO coaching can make a university’s enterprise security program more effective. This article explores some specific roles that can benefit from CISO coaching.


Benefits of coaching

There are many benefits to CISO coaching, including:

  • Mentor the information security management team
  • Assess cybersecurity capabilities and evaluate how best practices to counter evolving cyber threats
  • Assist with navigating the vendor and compliance landscape
Desk with reading glasses and Scrabble tiles spelling CISO

Coaching is not just for new CISOs

It’s easy to see how a coach can help a first-time CISO. Coaching can strengthen a university’s information security for other roles as well.

Other roles that can benefit from CISO coaching

  • A coach can help an experienced CISO hired from other sectors adapt to working in an academic setting.
  • Coaching can help CIOs who don’t have a CISO develop their information security strategies.
  • Coaching can help experienced security professionals review the effectiveness of the security program and plan for future needs.

First-time chief information security officer

Man pointing at marker board with word cloud containing coaching descriptions
Many schools find the high demand for experienced security leaders makes recruiting difficult. Because of this, many universities promote CISOs from within the technology team.

Facing new responsibilities

A first-time CISO faces many challenges and new responsibilities.

  • They must quickly identify strengths and gaps in their security program and have confidence their assessment is comprehensive and accurate.
  • They must be familiar with regulations affecting higher education, and then plan how their security program can efficiently meet these requirements.
  • They must establish credibility with other campus management that their strategy will secure critical data while supporting the university mission.

Speed up a new CISO’s success

With CISO coaching services from an experienced higher education expert, the new CISO gains a mentor focused on their career success.

Most CISO coaches have worked in a CISO position, so they understand the challenges facing new security managers and what it takes to be successful when improving enterprise cybersecurity programs.

CISO new to higher education

Many universities hire executives from other sectors. The breadth of a university CISO’s responsibilities and the cultural distinctions between academia and the commercial world might be surprising for a CISO coming from another organization.

Breadth of technology services

Universities have a more diverse technology environment than many organizations.

  • Besides standard business applications, campus IT teams often support environments ranging from retail to power generation and law enforcement.
  • Research universities must protect their data using the same security standards required in the government and defense sectors.
  • University culture often prioritizes the free exchange of information over securing that information, creating tension with cybersecurity program goals.
Aerial View of the University of Colorado in Boulder

Help applying prior experience to university role

Coaches familiar with both university and corporate roles can help a CISO who is new to higher education navigate these challenges.

  • The coach can help explore similarities and differences between academic and corporate cybersecurity approaches.
  • The coach can explain why some tools common in businesses might be difficult to implement at universities and how to navigate those obstacles.
  • The coach can help navigate organization dynamics at a university and translate leadership experience from prior roles to the new position.

CISO coaching benefits executives who are new to higher education by bridging the cultural gaps so they can quickly adapt to their campus role.

Chief information officer (CIO) without a CISO

Many institutions lack a CISO position, so the chief information officer must shoulder the responsibility of protecting computing systems and ensuring compliance with regulations without dedicated security resources.

Juggling IT and cybersecurity duties

CIOs without a full-time security team may be unsure if they’re doing enough to establish their enterprise security programs.

  • Many CIOs do not have information security training, leaving them uncertain if they’ve done enough to protect their environment.
  • CIOs may lack the time to create long-term security plans because of their competing IT leadership responsibilities.
  • Schools without a security team may also lack the resources to hire additional personnel or engage consulting firms to bridge the gap.

Cost effective approach to improving cybersecurity

Coaching can help a university strengthen their security program even without a full-time CISO.

  • The coach can help simplify security requirements and best practices into a consolidated framework, such as the CYBER HEAT MAP cybersecurity capability assessment tool.
  • A CISO coach can help prioritize potential solution investments and compare approaches used at comparable institutions.
  • Coaching service providers usually offer a fixed-cost solution, allowing university clients to control their spend and plan their budget needs.

CISO coaching can help simplify your university cybersecurity strategy

Coaching services can help new CISOs get up to speed quickly. Coaching can also help experienced CIOs and security managers determine best practices to manage risk and meet their compliance requirements.

Free consultation for universities

For more information, request a free 30-minute consultation to learn how our CISO coaching services using the CYBER HEAT MAP assessment method can help achieve your university’s cybersecurity goals.