Industry Trends

Training the Cybersecurity Workforce to Help Protect Global Organizations

By Rob Rashotte | August 11, 2022

The Fortinet Training Institute is made up of various programs aimed at closing the skills gap through the company’s award-winning training and certification. Fortinet’s Network Security Expert (NSE) curriculum is taught by the company’s technical trainers who are industry leading cybersecurity experts.

We recently had a virtual discussion with one of our principal technical trainers, Jonathan Body, who provides training to some of Fortinet’s largest customers and partners. Based in France, Jonathan considers himself to be a versatile and flexible instructor with a strong focus on web security and SD-WAN solutions as well as customer customization requirements.

With professional skills in networking and security, Jonathan is Fortinet Network Security Expert (NSE) level 8-certified with deep experience and excellent working knowledge of security operations centers (SOC) and application infrastructures. As an instructor, he trains customers and partners on Fortinet solutions.

We spoke with Jonathan about his career, his passion for teaching, and how he has seen Fortinet and the cybersecurity industry grow and change over the past 15 years.

What is your educational and professional background?

I was educated in France and did the first cycle of French university in International Business.

My first job was working for a company called Livingston Enterprises, which was acquired by Lucent Technologies. I was given a wonderful opportunity by the technical managers at Lucent to work in tech support. I worked and learned and had my first exposure to basic network security working with basic access control lists on dial-up and ISDN routers.

At that time, I had a bit of exposure to the Lucent firewall product, which was called the Brick. It was a server-based file with distributed endpoints with firewalling. So, I had some notions on security when I joined Fortinet in 2007. My cybersecurity skills have accelerated since then with over 20 years of experience in the industry and my NSE certifications.

What’s going on with the cybersecurity industry right now? What’s changing?

I think all my peers at Fortinet and in the industry would agree we probably work in one of the most fast-paced industries. It’s because we’re in a constant battle with bad actors who are trying to penetrate networks. Fortinet does a lot of research around the global threat landscape and has extensive knowledge when it comes to cybersecurity. Fortinet products and solutions are a reflection of that fast-pace and understanding.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen this massive migration of data to the cloud. And we’ve seen the notion of what was once on-premises is now off-premises. So now there’s a big challenge for the industry to secure the cloud. And, obviously, with the global pandemic, we’ve seen that someone’s home is also now a perimeter for business networks.

With all those parameters and dynamics changing, Fortinet is at the front with what organizations and individuals need to protect their networks. Fortinet is constantly researching, developing and bringing products and solutions to market .

What is your professional observation about the cyber skills gap? 

I feel like it’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity for young people and people looking for a career change to learn new skills and work. Organizations should embrace anyone who is eager and hungry to learn and to give them the chance to fly and flourish.  Fortinet is trying to bridge that skills gap with our own training and certification programs through the Fortinet Training Institute. That’s a fantastic thing to be a part of.

How did you become a technical trainer? And what do you enjoy about your role at Fortinet?

When Fortinet was a startup, there was a lot of need for trainings, but we didn’t necessarily have the resources to deliver them. At that time, I was working on our community knowledge base, tech writing articles for it, when one of my colleagues asked me if I’d be interested in leading a training session for one of our partners.

My first class was in Dublin, Ireland back in 2011 with one of our distributors—before our Network Security Expert program existed. I gave a FortiGate FCNSA and FCNSP training course that lasted five days and I enjoyed it so much. Then I got the opportunity to train a couple more times again in Dublin and then locally in the Sophia office in France.

In September 2012, I became a full-time instructor and from that moment onward, I haven’t looked back. I absolutely love teaching and being in a classroom. It’s something I really have missed during the pandemic, especially the direct feedback from people, like when they applaud your presentations. It’s extremely humbling to get such great feedback immediately. I get a buzz and an energy from the live classroom. It can be a lot of fun simply sharing knowledge about Fortinet products and solutions, and how they work.

There is nothing more satisfying to know that you are possibly on a very small scale making a difference to someone’s work life by helping them understand more fully a product or concept.

What are your future ambitions or goals?

The beauty of working in an industry like ours and, certainly, a company like Fortinet is that there’s always something new to learn. As long as I keep learning and keep having the privilege to teach, then my ambition is just to keep on learning and see where I go from there!

What value do you place on certifications?

I think certifications are the building blocks in progressing a career. Acquiring certifications has certainly allowed me to progress my career. When a certification is linear and fair and strikes the right balance between giving you enough theoretical skills as well as the right amount of practical skills, then a certification will always hold its value.

Can you tell us more about the customers attending your classroom trainings? 

The audiences can be pretty varied. Public ILT classes can be a mix of internal Fortinet employees—new hires like SEs, PSs, TACs; partners; and end-user customers. Private classes are often part of successful Fortinet sales projects, where we are either replacing an existing solution or being part of a brand new build of deployment.

What are your students’ backgrounds? Why do they choose instructor-led training?

Sometimes it can be beginners, or sometimes it is people with many years of networking and security experience. It really varies. Private ILT training cannot be underestimated in the success of the roll out of projects. Private ILT is very much a trusted advisor role without encroaching on what is essentially the role of PS.

My teammates across all the regions take a lot of pride in the fact that when a customer chooses an ILT logic, it’s because they want something more than a video or online lab demo. They want to learn and interact with someone and ask questions that are related to their own projects. It becomes very personalized training.

What’s your favorite course to teach and why?

I think it would be NSE 7 ATP (Advanced Threat Protection) as it’s solution track training that includes pretty much all my favorite Fortinet products. But honestly, I just enjoy teaching and learning new things which helps you to be a good teacher.

What advice would you give someone debating getting certified with Fortinet?

Someone who doesn’t know Fortinet and is starting out should certainly start with NSE 4 and then work on moving up NSE levels. The Fortinet NSE certification program validates and re-validates acquired knowledge coupled with the fact there is something for everyone depending on the products that need to be learnt and supported.

The way the NSE Certification program is developed helps professionals acquire the knowledge they need. Individuals can start with NSE 4, which covers Fortinet’s flagship firewall solution, and then decide if they require training and certification on other products. If not, professionals can skip to NSE 7 and then on to NSE 8. Coming back for re-certification and attaining other levels is also always an option. I would certainly encourage everyone to take the Fortinet certification as it is industry validation of your professional expertise.

Learn more about the Fortinet free cybersecurity training initiative and Fortinet’s Training Institute, including the NSE Certification programAcademic Partner program, and Education Outreach program which includes a focus on Veterans.