Department of the Navy Cyber Workforce Leadership Development Capstone Study
Parilla, Daniel R.
Wills, Stephanie L.
In the 11 years since the establishment of FLEET CYBER COMMAND, and the U.S. Cyber Command, gaps remain in efforts to develop Cyber Leaders and prepare them for constant changes in the cyber field. By creating an understanding of shortcomings in the alignment of training to the requisite skills and roles necessary for leaders, we hope to facilitate the development of a more robust cyber warfighter community that will enhance the Navy's ability to operate in the cyber domain. This study found that the skills necessary for cyber leaders fell into both technical and “soft” skill categories, and while early in a cyber career, the professional needs to focus on the technical foundations to operate, as they progress through their career, they will need an increased focus on communication, people skills, team-work, problem-solving, and ultimately leadership tools. By capturing skills and expectations from 78 high school seniors enrolled in Fairfax County Public Schools Cyber Programs, and then collecting over 20 hours of interviews from Department of the Navy mid and senior cyber leaders, we began to construct a picture of what skills were needed, what training was available, how was it being utilized and where gaps in the transition from technician to leader existed. This study determined that there is a strong understanding of the necessary skills to lead cyber, and these skills were not decidedly technical. While some technical understanding is needed, the vast majority of the skills a cyber leader requires are, again, traditional leadership skills and included: oral and written communication, commitment to lifelong learning, problem-solving, people skills, teamwork, mentorship. While there are numerous training opportunities, there does not exist a robust structure through which a cyber leader is developed. To achieve this structure, this study recommends establishing a DoN Cyber Leader Development Board that can leverage industry and diverse learning opportunities to better educate, train, and instruct cyber leaders. Next, the DoN needs to define a career pathway to ensure strong retention of mid-career cyber professionals who can lead and mentor junior personnel. With the adoption of a Cyber Organization Leadership Training and Selection (CYBOLTS) structure, the DoN can create a pool of candidates who have the requisite skills and the keen desire to lead cyber professionals at all levels of leadership.