Industry Trends

Fortinet Network Security Academy Series: Perspectives on Addressing Cybersecurity Skills Gap from Educational Leaders

By Jennifer Teeters | July 05, 2016

Interview with Rima Aristocrat, President and CEO of Willis College

Q: Tell us a bit about Willis College and the type of courses that drive the greatest student engagement?

A:  Established in 1866, Willis College is Canada’s first regulated Career College. This year, Willis College is celebrating 150 years of excellence in education, an outstanding example of the strength and agility of career colleges in Canada. With over 150,000 graduates and an exceptional faculty, Willis College is proud to be a pipeline for producing some of Canada’s top talent. Complemented by our groundbreaking industry partnerships, we specialize in employer-led, job-ready skills training programs in business, technology, and healthcare that are highly tuned to the demands of a global job market. With an unwavering commitment to our community, Willis College plays a vibrant role in the National Capital Region, with campuses in downtown Ottawa, Smiths Falls, and Arnprior.   To learn more about Willis College and our training programs, visit

Q: As the CEO of Willis College, what do you do to ensure that your institution develops the most relevant, impactful curriculum to educate and prepare students for 21st century careers?

A:  This has been my objective for the last 28 years. As the president and CEO of Willis College, I have been helping play a role in meeting the global needs of the technology sector both today and in the future. For example, for the last 5 years, in partnership with global cybersecurity experts such as Fortinet, we have produced a pipeline of expert cybersecurity talents to address the growing cybersecurity skills shortage.

Q: In your opinion, why is preparing the students of today with skills on cybersecurity technology an educational imperative?

A:  It’s no secret that security threats are increasing and impacting organizations in all industries, of all sizes, worldwide.  Currently, estimates show up to one million cybersecurity job openings, with demand expected to rise to 6 million globally by 2019.  The Willis College Cyber Security Academy partners with organizations like Fortinet for the latest in terms of cybersecurity technical training, as well as with our Willis Talent program, which incorporates business skills for IT professionals. Together, this makes our curriculum truly unique and in demand, allowing us to arm today and tomorrow’s cybersecurity professionals.  

Q: Why did you choose to partner with Fortinet to build out curriculum based on network security technology?

A:  Fortinet is a global leader in high-performance Cyber Security solutions. Fortinet’s initial partnership with Willis College, begun five years ago, was to help train the next generation of cybersecurity experts. Together we developed an intensive 48-week curriculum – the “Advanced Network Security Professional” diploma program – that provides extensive hands-on time in a state-of-the-art lab, resulting in recognized certifications and an internship with Fortinet and other top organizations. As of today, over 200 cybersecurity graduates have been produced through this program, with over 60 graduates working at Fortinet’s Ottawa office. Today, Willis College and Fortinet offer a sector-specific partnership model deemed a “best practice” approach that is benefiting organizations worldwide.

Q: How do students reacted to the Fortinet Network Security Academy coursework?

A:  The Fortinet Network Security Academy coursework is meeting the career goals and learning expectations of students at this level of higher education. As a career college, our educational commitment has always been to help students prepare for long-term careers. As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, Willis College’s offering of Fortinet Network Security Academy courses allows our students and graduates to stay competitive, and helps them secure the networking jobs of the future by preparing them to fill the high-demand cybersecurity talent pipeline.