As someone who worked in education for over seven years, Jonathan Deutsch, MS in Cybersecurity ‘20, is keenly familiar with online learning—especially since he was in the middle of his in-person master’s program and the director of technology for a high school when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. While he was transitioning to 100% online classes, balancing work with his own schooling and determining the next steps in his career, Jonathan received crucial support from his graduate school professors and cohort to stay committed and levelheaded.
After graduating from Yeshiva University’s M.S. in Cybersecurity program in the Katz School of Science and Health, Jonathan took some time to share his experience with us and reflect on how the degree has shaped his career and his appreciation for leadership in technology.
The Road to Katz
While building out his role as head of information technology, information security and educational technology at Rambam Mesivta high school in Lawrence, New York, Jonathan noticed a gap in the general public’s awareness of security compared to his own. With this in mind, he started searching for ways to work with his colleagues and other organizations to take security a little more seriously.
At the same time, Jonathan also found himself becoming more and more curious about the ins and outs of cybersecurity itself: how breaches occur, how to respond to them and who they affect. Once he decided that earning his master’s degree would be the best route to gain this knowledge, Jonathan was drawn to Yeshiva University’s cybersecurity program for a few reasons; first, and most importantly to Jonathan, was the fact that Katz professors are living and working in cybersecurity themselves, and therefore are keenly aware of what the current environment is like.
“Katz stuck out to me because the program is run by practitioners rather than academics,” he says. “Being able to have individuals who are on the grind and in the trenches on a day-to-day basis was very appealing. They bring real-world experience to current events and issues in a way that we wouldn’t learn otherwise.”
With their veteran perspective and firsthand experiences, Jonathan gained crucial insights that helped him affect the changes that he was looking to make in his organization. This included upgrading and maintaining comprehensive asset protection measures, especially while students were attending school from home.
Focused on Soft Skills
While Jonathan was initially drawn to Katz for its impressive faculty and technical prowess, he also was looking to develop his soft skills—to learn how to lead people and teams, to teach people how to protect themselves from cybersecurity threats and to empower others to take their electronic presence seriously.
“The hard skills you can always learn, but the soft skills and how you communicate them are most important,” he said, “and that’s where the Katz School’s program was exceptional.”
More specifically, Jonathan wanted to home in on leadership in technology, rather than the strictly technical components of the field. Working to branch out from his tactical mindset, Jonathan enrolled in courses that would teach him how to lead by example and encourage others to invest in themselves and their security. He was particularly inspired by Professor Alexsandr Zhuk’s course, Leading Technology Organizations, that draws a distinction between managers and leaders.
“People are more likely to follow and do the right thing when they want to do it rather than when they have to do it,” he said. “That kind of thinking is what I needed. And I thought to myself, I need more of that.”
Jonathan was so impacted by that course, in fact, that he joined another master’s program at Columbia University to specifically focus on technology management and leadership in technology organizations. Looking back, he feels that he was able to understand and appreciate that program much more because of the strong framework he had already built at Katz.
“I feel like I received a really thorough overview of the wide variety of cybersecurity scenarios. Since I have that sweeping knowledge of a lot of different areas, whenever these concepts come up in my job or things that we need to work on, it's not a shock to me. I remember it vividly and can determine how we can handle it.”
The Faculty That Made the Difference
After the first semester at Katz, Jonathan found himself pleasantly surprised by the level of attention and care that professors showed him. A far cry from the large lecture halls and massive student groups of his undergraduate years, the smaller class sizes and personalized support from the faculty at Katz inspired Jonathan and improved his confidence.
“The level of care that the professors showed was phenomenal,” he says. “They are genuinely interested in students and are there for you. They are very passionate about their area of expertise and want their students to succeed.”
Toward the end of the program, Jonathan especially leaned on his faculty mentors while working to earn his CISSP exam. From helping him narrow down studying topics to providing a much-needed pick-me-up, his professors offered their services in any way they could. Building those kinds of relationships certainly paid off: Jonathan credits Professor Zhuk for helping him land his current position as Compliance Lead for Axoni, a New York-based technology firm that specializes in blockchain infrastructure.
An Ongoing Education
With the help of his professors and peers, Jonathan obtained his coveted CISSP certification after graduation. This certification is granted by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, also known as (ISC). CISSP is well-recognized and globally trusted, and it enables students to perform various security job functions and pursue positions of leadership in technology.
Outside of his work at Axoni, Jonathan is a volunteer mentor for emerging cybersecurity students with Cyber Ladies NYC, founded by Katz professor Sivan Tehila Alus. He also works with nonprofit and educational organizations to help design secure technology solutions to help further their mission. Outside of the day-to-day operations, Jonathan’s passionate about how cybersecurity relates to the role human nature plays when defending digital assets.
“We’re dealing not only with the technical reality of a security breach, for example, but also the social and psychological reality,” he said. “The Katz program not only explored that reality but gave us the vocabulary to make it accessible to anyone in our company.”
Now, even though he will have two master’s degrees under his belt by summer, Jonathan’s desire to learn and commitment to building more robust leadership in technology hasn’t stopped.
“The space is always changing and in flux,” Jonathan says. “You can’t think that you get your master’s and then you’re done. You constantly have to be learning and growing, and one of the biggest takeaways that I have from Katz are the tools to be able to continue to learn and develop.”