Interview With Brett Shively - CEO at ACI Learning

Updated on: March 18, 2024
Shauli Zacks Shauli Zacks
Updated on: March 18, 2024

In an recent interview with SafetyDetectives, Brett Shively, the CEO at ACI Learning, shares his intriguing journey from exploring the intersection of technology and education to leading a pioneering company in the realm of professional training. Highlighting the unique position of ACI Learning in the market, Shively delves into how the organization stands apart with its innovative approach to cybersecurity and IT education, emphasizing hands-on learning and a commitment to making learning an engaging, lifelong process. He sheds light on the comprehensive strategies employed to measure and enhance the effectiveness of their training programs, ensuring they align with career advancement and skill development in the rapidly evolving cybersecurity landscape. Furthermore, he discusses the tailored solutions ACI Learning offers to meet the diverse needs of businesses and individuals, focusing on the cultivation of essential skills for cybersecurity professionals.

Can you introduce yourself and talk about your journey to becoming CEO at ACI Learning?

Throughout my career, I have worked in an exciting space where we nurture innovation at the convergence of technology and education. My experience spans collaboration with universities, e-learning solutions, and edtech companies. I don’t think anyone grows up saying “I want to spend my life in adult learning,” but a funny thing happens on your way to a profession, and that’s finding something you’re passionate about. I have spent most of my career in the training, certification, and continuing education field. Quite frankly there are very few careers where you can stand back and watch the impact your work has on other people’s lives, as you can in career training. It’s an exciting thing to be part of, and I am grateful I found a niche where I can make an impact.

At ACI Learning, we are redefining the learning experience for professionals in areas such as auditing, cybersecurity, and information technology. ACI Learning is a leading provider of audit, cybersecurity and IT training solutions, empowering individuals and organizations worldwide to improve their technical capabilities and their cybersecurity with compelling and comprehensive training. We are extending our leadership position to offer a complete SaaS Learning Platform that will provide organizational and individual knowledge assessment, analytics, and training delivery with integrated AI to understand capabilities and skill gaps for organizations.

In today’s educational and professional environment, we know and understand that learning is a lifelong process, and people acquire skills and knowledge in diverse ways. Some go online, some want to do it in person, some want to do it at their leisure. As an organization, we are at a point where we are truly testing the limits of how fast and how far we can run together, and it’s exhilarating.

What sets ACI Learning apart from other cybersecurity training providers?

I get excited when I can talk about what sets us apart in this area: Not only is our content formula unique – our courses are delivered in a dual-host, talk show format – but we also round that offering out with labs that give learners hands-on experience. Our Tech Academy provides learners who want more than an on-demand style of learning to take courses online, receive support from an instructor mentor, have access to career services and apprenticeships. We are passionate about destroying the old expectation that training is a dreaded chore – we see learning as a fun, engaging, profoundly life altering experience that should happen throughout not just a career, but a lifetime. Our subject matter experts work hard to connect learners with a network of professionals who love exploring the bounds of their fields and sharing their experiences. We engage learners in conversations, and we make the learning process a true exchange of ideas and information. You can see this in the talk show host delivery format, our live and interactive webinars, our labs, apprenticeship programs and in the community we build online through our social channels and even in our platforms. When it comes to our workforce solutions, learners love us and leaders rejoice.

How do you measure the effectiveness of cybersecurity training programs, particularly in terms of skill development and career advancement?

Effectiveness in cybersecurity training programs is measured through skills assessments, certification attainment, performance metrics, and participant feedback. Pre- and post-training assessments, coupled with hands-on labs and projects, gauge skill development, while certifications serve as tangible proof of competence.

Exploring the potential of virtual labs in cybersecurity training holds significant value for me, as hands-on practice plays a crucial role in the learning journey. Our labs are not simulations – they are actual sandboxed IT environments where learners can put their knowledge to the test and fail in a realistic and safe environment. This builds confidence and experience and empowers learners to transition to successful professional roles. In the rapidly changing cybersecurity environment of today, that confidence is critical to everyone’s safety and success.

Beyond the value of thoughtfully aligned labs, we can measure an effective cybersecurity program by looking at career advancement, job placement rates, and industry recognition. These all provide insights into the program’s impact on professional growth. Additionally, feedback and success stories from participants contribute to understanding the long-term retention and practical application of acquired knowledge.

How do you tailor your cybersecurity training solutions to meet the diverse needs of businesses and organizations?

Our approach to tailoring cybersecurity training solutions involves a thorough understanding of the unique needs and challenges that businesses and organizations face. Our training programs incorporate real-world scenarios, industry-specific case studies, and the latest threat intelligence to ensure that participants gain practical skills and insights. Whether addressing the financial sector, healthcare, or any other industry, we prioritize a dynamic and adaptive training methodology to accommodate the rapidly evolving nature of cyber threats. This tailored approach not only enhances the participants’ cybersecurity awareness but also empowers them with actionable knowledge to defend against the specific challenges inherent to their business environment.

What do you believe are the most essential skills for cybersecurity professionals to possess, and how do you cultivate these skills in your training programs?

The most essential skills for cybersecurity professionals encompass a blend of technical proficiency, critical thinking, adaptability, communication, and a deep understanding of evolving cyber threats. In our training programs, we prioritize hands-on technical exercises to cultivate proficiency in areas like penetration testing, incident response, and secure coding. Critical thinking is honed through scenario-based simulations that require participants to analyze and respond to complex cybersecurity challenges. Adaptability is fostered by staying abreast of the latest technologies and threat landscapes. Communication skills are refined through collaborative exercises, emphasizing the ability to convey technical information to diverse audiences. Recognizing the importance of continuous learning, our programs instill a mindset of curiosity and resourcefulness, encouraging cybersecurity professionals to proactively seek knowledge and adapt to emerging challenges.

What advice would you give to individuals looking to transition into a career in cybersecurity?

For individuals aspiring to transition into a career in cybersecurity, I would offer the advice of building a solid foundation in both technical skills and a deep understanding of cybersecurity principles. Start by acquiring fundamental certifications such as CompTIA Security+ or Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) to establish a solid base. Engage in hands-on learning through practical exercises, labs, and real-world projects to develop practical skills. Stay informed about the latest trends and technologies in cybersecurity through continuous learning and networking with professionals in the field. Consider participating in online communities, attending conferences, and seeking mentorship opportunities to gain valuable insights and guidance.

I’d be remiss if I did not plug our offerings here at – Audit, Cybersecurity, & Information Technology because you’ll see that in a world of abundant career choices, our expert-led courses and thoughtfully aligned labs stand out, providing practical skills and the latest industry insights. Most importantly, we are leading the way in empowering individuals to succeed in the modern, skills-based economy.

Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of a proactive and ethical mindset – cybersecurity professionals play a crucial role in safeguarding digital environments, and a commitment to integrity and continuous improvement will set the foundation for a successful and fulfilling career in this dynamic field. Committing to continuously upgrading skills benefits both organizations and professionals, especially in IT and security.

About the Author
Shauli Zacks
Updated on: March 18, 2024

About the Author

Shauli Zacks is a tech enthusiast who has reviewed and compared hundreds of programs in multiple niches, including cybersecurity, office and productivity tools, and parental control apps. He enjoys researching and understanding what features are important to the people using these tools.