Do you really want a headhunter to train your people?

June 9, 2023

Can a headhunter educate?

It is a question that cybersecurity headhunter Camilla Treschow Schrøder underestimated, when she decided to act on the great skill gap and increasing pressure, she was witnessing within the industry.

She recently founded the new cyber leadership education ‘CISL’ together with Per Erik Sørensen, Klaus Kongsted and Jakob Skytte from Kopenhagen Konsulting. She has also been driving upskilling initiatives together with industry experts like Mikael Vingaard within industrial security. Wanting to be part of the solution and not the problem, Camilla’s answer to the raised question is yes – with one good reason:

“Our value in education comes from our recruitment activities and the insight, we have from our close dialogue with people in the cybersecurity industry. We know how these people think, act, their motivations and common shortcomings. By using our knowledge in education and upskilling programs that are in line with the real world, we can help professionals to improve their chances of success”

Jan Topp Rasmussen, CIO in Semco Maritime, who first knew Camilla through her recruitment business, now follows her educational activities with great interests.

“If you are a good recruitment company, you know what the market is asking and what is available. In my opinion, Camilla and the team has responded to an important market gap with the CISL education, where there are definitely room for more players”

He adds that many might see it as an obvious business case for a recruiter “but what is wrong with that?” especially given the great resource gap, and the need for strategic leadership competencies, as cybersecurity moves up on the corporate agenda.

Still fighting an image

It has not been an easy road to convince a precautious industry that a headhunter can serve other purposes, or have other intentions, than to chase for candidates or clients.

We are often put in the ‘bad guys spot’. Many still think we participate at conferences with the purpose of running around and bother people to sell them jobs – apparently it is hard to imagine that we are there to get insight and educate ourselves with the purpose of better supporting our clients in attracting talents and to have a valuable and respectful conversation with candidates. It has taken us almost 4 years just to get to a place, where we are not asked to leave industry events”.

Luckily, Camilla has been able to build strong relations within the cyber community with her partner Andrada Son, given their genuine passion for cybersecurity and decision to focus business exclusively on the cyber industry and its people.

Over the years, it has allowed them on stage to share observations and experiences on topics including cybersecurity leadership and the changing role of CISOs, and the growing importance of mental health within the industry. Even though it was a bold decision at the time, to Camilla it was a question of being able to bring more value to the people, she works with:

“I do not know many headhunters, who has dared to be as niche as we are – today that truly separates us from other headhunters, who claim to know it all”.  

Why go into education?

Investments are already made in cybersecurity educations and projects to attract the young generation and create a greater workforce e.g., De Danske Cybermesterskaber, Cyberskills, and ‘Cyberværnepligten’.

Why is that not enough and what is the problem, Camilla is trying to solve?

The question leads back to the increasing pressure that Camilla is currently witnessing. Although they help to solve an important part of the problem, they are often driven by universities and academic institutions with long-term effect that does not help with the ongoing pressure on cyber professionals causing stress and mental health issues such as burnout.

The pipeline coming from educational institutions are not adequate to fill the great gap” – Jan Topp Rasmussen.

Instead, Camilla believes in the strong potential for upskilling talents within companies’ own organization.

With the ability to point at several good instructors, who are open and willing to share from their valuable knowledge and experiences, Camilla finds it had to understand what it is that keeps companies from investing in their own employees.

Especially when it comes to OT (operational technology) security, where resources are even scarcer. Even though various employees have daily (and very important) interactions with critical production, operations, and it-infrastructure, it takes great efforts to convince that cybersecurity training is a good solution.

Cybersecurity is the future – upskilling is key

To Camilla there is no doubt that upskilling is key. Not only to accommodate the critical demand, but to make sure the existing workforce stays and lift the heavy workload from existing experts, who often struggle to say no with big hearts for making a difference.

“Upskilling will make organizations equipped to meet the ongoing changing role of cybersecurity”.

Camilla adds that companies in general need to come to the realization that cybersecurity is equally part of our future as a natural part of digitalization. Therefore, it no longer is a ‘specialist’ area, but a mindset that must live within the entire organization.

“It is something everyone has to relate to in some way or another – especially those dealing with critical production equipment or digital solutions”.

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