Identifying Information Technology (IT) and Cybersecurity Executives’ Competencies to Support Comprehensive Cybersecurity Programs




Cybersecurity, Executive Leadership Competencies, Workforce Development


Information Technology (IT) and cybersecurity executives play a pivotal role in shaping the cybersecurity posture of an organization. Their ability to make informed decisions, allocate resources, and communicate effectively with cybersecurity professionals is paramount. Consequently, these executives must acquire the necessary competencies that encompass cybersecurity risk management, legal and regulatory compliance, and strategic planning combined with foundational business and technical competencies. An interdisciplinary approach bridging the gap between business, technical skills and strategic decision-making is crucial to navigate the ever-evolving and complex cybersecurity challenges facing organizations today. Failure to do so may result in catastrophic consequences for both individual enterprises and society. Further, the growing frequency and sophistication of cyber threats pose significant risks to organizations and individuals alike. To effectively counter these threats, it is imperative to not only develop cybersecurity talent but also to equip IT and cybersecurity executives with essential competencies in this domain. Equally important, is to identify the specific competencies and develop an approach to train or teach them. According to Burrell, Aridi, & Nobles (2018) there is an extremely urgent need of leadership development for cybersecurity and information technology professionals to prepare these professionals with the foundational skills to excel in leadership, management, and directing an enterprise-level program. This paper underscores the critical need for a comprehensive understanding of both Information Technology (IT) and cybersecurity executive competencies and cybersecurity executive development. Integrating these two aspects is critical to improve an organization’s cybersecurity posture and ensure alignment between organizational objectives and cybersecurity strategies. The two must work in tandem to create a robust and resilient cybersecurity infrastructure. This paper provides an analysis of the current literature regarding IT/Cybersecurity roles and responsibilities, leadership competencies, and technical competencies of IT/Cybersecurity executives to identify the gaps in existing research. The authors propose a survey instrument to conduct a quantitative analysis to identify executives’ beliefs as to how important it is to possess each administrative competency. The survey is part of a future research plan to identify and evaluate administrative and technical competencies of IT/Cybersecurity executive leaders.

Author Biography

William Mapp, University of Arizona

Dr. Mapp has over 25 years’ experience working in higher education leading, teaching,
developing, and facilitating programs. He’s worked over fifteen years with an Arizona
Community College and nearly ten years at the University of Arizona as a faculty member and
an administrator. Some of his duties involve leading and coordinating Applied Science
Department faculty, curriculum, assessment, workforce development, and continuing
connections with community colleges and local business communities throughout Arizona and
the US/Mexico border. His recent borderlands work includes workforce development,
mentoring, and smart connected communities for underrepresented and border communities.