Khalid Yahia: Jumpstarting a Career in Cybersecurity

Khalid Yahia (’18SPS, Executive Master of Science in Technology Management) lived in London, New York, and Tanzania before returning to New York City in 2016 to attend an Technology Management event at the School of Professional Studies. “I made my decision there and then,” Yahia says. “I needed the program to rebuild my career.” Through his studies, he began to appreciate the interplay between people and technology in local and global settings. While he was a student, Yahia accepted a consultancy position at Morgan Stanley and he plans to continue in his role managing several enterprise cybersecurity infrastructure projects.

What did you like about the format of the program?

The Executive Master of Science in Technology Management combines online delivery with four residencies, in New York, Paris, or San Francisco. In that sense, the online classes complemented the residencies, providing busy professionals a measure of flexibility and the ability to manage their time efficiently. And because of the close follow-up by professors and teaching assistants via lectures, group sessions, discussion forums, and the myriad other activities, our cohort achieved a level of engagement and commitment that I had not anticipated. The learning experience was second to none. The cohort not only learned from faculty but it taught itself through conversations and group activities—all facilitated by the online platform that bridged distances and saved valuable time. Columbia SPS employs technology effectively and has outstanding faculty from academia and industry who work hard to make the whole experience second to none.

What was your setup for the online coursework?

I typically attended the online components in the comfort of my living room. My typical study space consisted of my wide and comfortable armchair and the coffee table that was stacked with books, papers and coffee mugs. I viewed that as my working space. Its importance lies primarily in that it is a comfortable personal space where the right conditions of quiet, comfort, and convenience exist. In my case, this was achievable thanks to my understanding children (despite their young ages) and my loving and supporting wife. I could not have had the right conditions to succeed without them.

How do the students and faculty interact online?

Throughout the program, the interaction amongst the cohort was dynamic and lively. We used discussion boards and online sessions to exchange and debate ideas. Faculty further invigorated the process by continually presenting stimulating material and engaging the cohort. In this exercise, we have built what we believe will be lifelong connections amongst ourselves and with our professors.