National MBA in cyber-security launched today
National MBA in cyber-security launched today

It's little over a year since it was first mooted, but the National MBA in Cyber Security from Coventry University Business School launched today at a House of Commons event addressed by shadow business minister Chi Onwurah MP, with support from both the prime minister and leader of the opposition - and the first students are starting courses in January 2015.

Sir Kevin Tebbit, former director of GCHQ and chair of the National MBA advisory board told “Our ideal candidate is probably already ten years into their career, so about 35 years old. He or she could either be in middle management wanting to get into senior management with a stronger understanding of the information security world. Or the other way around – a CIO in a company wanting to move into top level management, to be able to interpret the technical aspects of the role better to board level management.

“They would see this as a useful arrow in their quiver to take them there. They would not necessarily need any prior cyber-security knowledge other than the awareness you would expect from someone of that age group. It's broader than direct cyber but will teach people how to understand the nature of the threats and how to deal with them.

“There is a practical rather than theoretical focus. It might suit a company secretary with responsibility for risk, or a CISO or CIO reporting to the board, or a finance director broadening skills. We are talking about fast-burn quick-delivery –trying to up-skill people on how to use cyber-security to benefit their organisation.”

Professor Richard Benham FRSA, whose came up with the idea of the National MBA in Cyber Security while developing a national MBA in Policing, and is also on the advisory board adds: “We will be teaching management skills to technologists, and an understanding of cyber-security issues to non-technical students, appreciating the levels of security needed.” Benham told SC: “There will be training models for specific skills, legal aspects etc, and we may develop sector specific modules for say finance or law enforcement. It will be a very ‘applied' qualification, not just an academic qualification. And we will be looking for advice from industry, government, anyone who has an interest, to define what areas and modules need to be covered.”

Mike Loginov, vice chair of the National MBA advisory board, and a chief cyber strategist elaborated to SC: “It's not (just) chalk and talk – its simulated environments, coping with attack scenarios that have happened in real life, re-engineered to get learning outcomes. They are stressful.”

There will thus likely be candidates ranging from new graduates to those with an MSc or other MBA and extensive practical experience.

The NMBA course will cost £10,500 and contain eight modules; it would ordinarily take 18 months to two years to complete, but is flexible so it can be spread over six years with payment also spread out to accommodate those working while doing the course – much of which will be provided by eLearning and video from industry experts.

Some students sponsored by their company may be able to pursue issues of immediate benefit to their company – but these would likely be areas such as security architecture and broader issues, and not be reactive or providing sticking plasters to specific temporary problems.