Today, SynED, a national non-profit organization that identifies emerging best practices for effective articulation between employers, job seekers, and education providers, announced that Tony Marshall was selected as its national CyberHero for February 2021.
Marshall is the co-founder, President and CEO of Innovative Systems Group (ISG), a company that provides cybersecurity services and builds cybersecurity talent. The ISG cybersecurity apprenticeship program has helped dozens of veterans and others find cybersecurity careers through the integration of education, training, certification, and work-based learning. “The ISG program helps industry meet workforce needs in the cybersecurity sector and provides careers to jobseekers.” according to Marshall.
The ISG apprenticeship program, in partnership with government and industry, provides one of the most effective pathways to a cybersecurity career. The apprenticeship brings traditionally separate elements of success together in one activity. This creates a seamless pathway into the cybersecurity workforce, helping to fill the critical demands for skilled cybersecurity workers that exists throughout the United States.
Marshall launched the apprenticeship program in 2013 after seeing a natural fit between people coming out of the military and the need for qualified cybersecurity professionals. Transitioning veterans represent an ideal population with proven soft skills and key attributes for success in cybersecurity.
“A veteran’s natural propensity to defend and their security clearances, make them a choice population for cybersecurity. Cybersecurity requires a combination of education, training, certification, and work experience,” Marshall said. “Our program integrates these core elements to enable work-based learning, as part of a federally recognized apprenticeship program.”
Marshall’s father was a career military Soldier, and he spent his formative years in Germany. This is where he saw first-hand how the apprenticeship program produces careers. Tony applied the lessons from Germany and the connections he’d made throughout his career, to bring partners from industry, government, and education together to turn his cybersecurity apprenticeship vision into a reality.
Like many organizations in the public sector, the state of North Carolina struggles to find and retain quality cybersecurity talent. Maria Thompson, the chief risk officer in the state’s department of information technology, said Marshall’s leadership in the ISG apprenticeship program has assisted in meeting the state’s cyber workforce needs.
“Tony brought us a vision and continues to be a partner with and for the state,” Thompson said. “Through his leadership and foresight, we’ve been able to provide training and learning opportunities for transitioning veterans in North Carolina.”
ISG Apprentices work in North Carolina’s government and in the private sector. Any organization or company that participates in the apprenticeship receives quality services and has the first choice in hiring apprenticeship graduates. ISG is flexible in partnering with education and industry in an apprenticeship model that produces results.
The ISG apprenticeship provides an excellent pathway to integrate education and training. University students who receive foundational education through their studies are able to participate in training and certification as part of the university experience. This allows and supports a much better prepared cybersecurity graduate. ISG provides students with stackable credentials and work experience they can take with them into the workforce.
Dr. Costis Toregas, director of the Cyber Security Privacy and Research Institute at George Washington University, said Marshall’s leadership helped put North Carolina on the national stage for how apprenticeships can work in cyber education.
“When I invited Tony to join a group of thought leaders to focus on changing the use of apprenticeships for federal cybersecurity jobs, he leapt at the opportunity and led an effort to create a pilot program with the Department of Labor,” Toregas said. “He is a skilled leader and a cybersecurity expert. I consider myself fortunate to call Tony not only a trusted colleague, but a good friend.”
Moving forward, Marshall plans to continue expanding the apprenticeship program and utilize it as a way to bring more women and underserved populations into cybersecurity. As more people complete the program, he is hopeful that the benefits of utilizing apprentices will spread throughout industry, government, and education.
“We’ve developed a business approach that develops talent specifically to our customer’s needs and mitigates their risk in the process,” Marshall said. “Our program provides invaluable services while building talent. The ISG apprenticeship model is repeatable, scalable, and dependable.”