The most valuable tools Keith Hartung walked away with from Harrisburg University’s Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Certificate Program is the relationships he made.
The level of expertise displayed by instructors and guest speakers who led the Security Center of Excellence program also was “phenomenal,” Hartung said.
But networking, and learning from other CISO’s like himself is what Hartung said he appreciated most about the program presented by the Government Technology Institute (GTI) at Harrisburg University.
“The collaborative learning environment is something that always will stick with us,” Hartung said, just before he and other graduates of the program received their certificates Wednesday afternoon. “It really is a collaborative learning environment. I want to stay in touch forever.”
Hartung, who works for the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, was one of 17 CISOs from an array of state agencies who completed the second cohort of the eight-month CISO certificate program.
He, and three other graduates, reflected on the program during the graduation ceremony held 14th-floor floor auditorium at Harrisburg University.
Each graduate emphasized the importance of the relationships they established while enrolled in the course.
Working with others who face similar workplace challenges was invaluable, Todd DeBoard, a CISO with the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, said.
“I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet people from other agencies. The faculty wanted us to establish relationships. That’s been a big help,” he said. “World class speakers and leaders were brought in, and you get exposure to areas you never get exposed to in the day-to-day life at work.”
Erik Avakian, Chief Information Security Officer for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, served as the Keynote Speaker at the graduation.
Avakian stressed the importance of investing in continuing education programs in the face of an IT security landscape that faces new, vexing challenges every day.
Enrolling the commonwealth’s tech leaders in GTI programs is an investment in people and the agencies they work for, Avakian said.
“The most important asset we have to invest in is our people,” he said. “Outstanding educational programs provide an avenue to invest in our people and a government that works. In Pennsylvania, we’re focused more than ever on training and expanding awareness. These are challenging times. But when we see challenges, we see opportunities.”
Those who graduated Wednesday join more than 200 alumni of the Government Technology Institute, which offers a host of IT certificate programs that empower municipal and state tech leaders and their agencies.
Like other GTI alumni, Kelly Powell Logan, Vice President of Strategic Workforce Development and University Centers at HU, told the graduates they have a responsibility.
The GTI expects graduates of the CISO program to take what they learned and put it to use within their agencies.
“We want to ask you to do a few things. One is go back to the workplace and really use what you learned to make your organization better,” she said. “The other thing we are going to ask you to do, is think about your team as you go back to the workplace. Folks invested in you. Share it with others. And come back often.”