Career Advice Tuesday – “Don’t Quit Your Day Job!”

June 29, 2010

Dear Infosecleaders:

I work as Information Security Manager for global firm and have around 9 years work experience.  I currently lead a team of 10 resources across the globe and hold CISSP and CISM certifications.  The foundation of my career has been more technically focused.  It is my long term career ambition to be the CISO/CRO of a Fortune 100 firm.

I have recently been looking into applying to and attending a full time MBA program.   I believe that receiving this type of business education would provide me with the necessary knowledge that would enable me to reach my career goal.  Most of the programs that I have been looking into would require my full attention and the obligation would force me to quit my job in order to complete my program in a year’s time.

What would you recommend? Should I leave my position to pursue this career investment? If I do, would it be correct for me to assume that the MBA program will help me find a meaningful information security position?   Do you have any other advice that may be helpful?

Signed,

“Work/Study”

Dear Work/Study:

The simplest answer to your question is “No”.  There is no way that I would recommend leaving a full time job to pursue an advanced degree.  First of all, you are leading a team of 10 people, you work in a global firm, and you seem to have some significant opportunities to grow and develop your leadership skills in the context of your job.
I do believe that an MBA from a top flight Business School would provide you with the education that could help you accelerate your career and develop some of the skills necessary to accomplish your goal to be a CISO/CRO.   However, many top flight schools offer an Executive MBA program that is geared toward working professionals who simultaneously want to pursue this type of education.  These programs recognize the need for flexibility in their curriculum  and schedule classes on alternate Fridays and over the weekend.
As far as job placement, I do not believe that an MBA program will directly place you into a better position.  I am not sure that these programs would be well equipped to locate you an information security leadership role.  I am not even sure that they would be motivated to do so.   For experienced professionals (information security or in other disciplines) the value of most Tier 1 MBA programs are in their brand and their alumni network, not in direct job placement.
In closing, I think that I believe that the investment that you are seeking is a good one, and would make good sense in the pursuit of your information security positions.   If you do decide to do this, please do not quit your day job, and figure out a way where you can do both in concert.
Please realize, that an MBA is only a credential, it will not provide you with a guarantee of career success.  If you do indeed get the MBA, recognize that the value does not lie in the education alone, but the ability to leverage and apply this knowledge to your duties as an information security leader.
Hope this helps,
Lee and Mike

Posted by lee | Filed Under Advice, Career Advice Tuesday 

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