SAP partners with Columbia University on cybersecurity diversity initiative

The first group of recent graduates is joining SAP this summer.
Written by Jonathan Greig, Contributor

Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs will be collaborating with SAP to help identify and develop more diverse talent in the cybersecurity sector in the coming years. 

The software giant is hoping to help promote diversity in cybersecurity through increased funding and a variety of internships, job opportunities, curriculum assistance and events at Columbia University. 

Jason Healey, cyberthreat intelligence expert and senior research scholar at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, said the funding provided by SAP would help the school attract a wider pool of candidates interested in cybersecurity. 

"Due to SAP's funding, we're already finding new opportunities to reach out to our diverse student body to let them know about the amazing job prospects in cybersecurity, even for those outside of STEM," Healey said. 

"The events, projects, information and first-hand experience our students will have access to will be extremely valuable for their career development."

Tim McKnight, the chief security officer at SAP, explained that it was the software industry's responsibility to devise new ways to protect valuable data and support business operations and secure enterprises of all sizes. 

SAP's relationship with Columbia University will allow the company "to identify diverse talent to keep SAP's customers and products safe while providing students and recent graduates an opportunity to launch a new and exciting career," McKnight added. 

In addition to funding and campus events, SAP will also sponsor "Capstone workshops" that allow students to "work with and advise external clients."

There is an outsized need for cybersecurity talent across the country as organizations struggle to protect themselves from an evolving cyberthreat landscape. 

Elena Kvochko, the chief trust officer at SAP, noted that there was still a significant gender disparity in the cybersecurity workforce despite the increased demand. 

She said she was hopeful that the program would help diversify the industry and "bring new ideas, skills and creativity when solving security challenges."

Kvochko told ZDNet that much of the collaboration would consist of SAP's support for campus hiring and recruiting to provide a greater opportunity for graduates to start their careers in the cybersecurity and technology sectors. 

"The goal is to immerse students in the cybersecurity world and give them the opportunity to explore this fast-growing field. The capstone projects will be designed and developed around the most pressing needs of the cybersecurity sector, so that students, graduates and SAP employees have exposure to diverse perspectives from around the world," Kvochko said. 

"SAP is excited to have the first group of recent graduates joining us this summer. We are prepared to lead groups of students of different sizes in their cybersecurity journey while helping to close the diversity gaps in our field and ensure diversity of perspectives."

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