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CISO Certification Program Graduates 2021-22 Cohort

April 28, 2022

Technology Center's Michael Rajkumar, Enabling Services Director, receives CISO Certification diploma at the 2022 CISOA Technology SummitCongratulations to the newest graduates from CISOA’s CISO Certification Program — including the California Community Colleges Technology Center’s own Enabling Services and Support Director Michael Rajkumar. Participants who completed the program were recognized in a ceremony on the last day of the CISOA Technology Summit held in March.

The CISO Certification Program is a year-long training for new and potential Chief Information Systems Officers (CISOs) in the California Community Colleges. The program is designed to help participants sharpen their technical and leadership skills, and prepare them to move into leadership positions.

Rajkumar said his main objective for going through the program was to understand from a CISO’s perspective the considerations involved in adopting systemwide technologies and what makes some colleges more reluctant to do so than others.

“When I started working with the Enabling Services team on implementing solutions across the community colleges, I found that with many schools we couldn’t get traction, and that was leading to some frustration,” he explained. “That, I guess, was the seed for wanting to understand the ecosystem and understand the challenges our colleges are facing.”

Some of the biggest hurdles, he learned, include regulatory issues, lack of IT staff, and limited budget to cover the ongoing costs of maintaining technology solutions. And different colleges and districts may respond differently to each of these challenges based on a variety of factors, such as their size or governance structure.

“Knowing what I know now, it’s about rethinking how we take the product to them,” Rajkumar said.

Intensive Program

A CISO is the equivalent of a Chief Technology Officer or Chief Information Officer in other organizations. A CISO is responsible for technology development and operations for administrative and business processes and, in some cases, instructional technology.

The training program is taught by current and experienced CISOs as well as domain experts, and provides instruction in the critical areas necessary for a CISO to be successful. The course begins on the last day of the annual CISOA conference, and ends one year later on the last day of the conference. In between, participants attend three in-person weekend meetings, meet with assigned mentors, complete personality and skills self-analyses, conduct and present case studies, and participate in mock interviews and class discussions.

“It was a fascinating experience, and one that I would highly encourage my colleagues to look into,” Rajkumar said. “It is time-demanding but the gains, I think, are incredible. The program gave me the opportunity to network and become friends with people who are now stepping into the CISO role in other districts … and many of them are very open to collaboration and sharing ideas.”

Rajkumar said he is next looking to complete the administration training program through the Association of California Community College Administrators (ACCCA) as part of his quest to understand Tech Center customers from all angles.

The CISO Certification Program’s 2022-23 cohort has already been filled, but applications for future classes may be submitted at any time. To be placed on a waiting list for the next class, submit an application here.