Purdue Cyber Apprenticeship Program Leadership Academy

Developing soft-skills for next-generation leaders in cyber fields

We believe leadership is an important competency in today’s workplace and is vital for professionals in cyber fields. Specifically, the Purdue Cyber Apprenticeship Program Leadership Academy is designed to help you develop your leadership competency by immersing you in various leadership situations in cyber-related workplace settings through guided self-reflection. To assist in this “micro-learning” approach, the Leadership Academy will work with you directly, offering guidance as you explore your leadership competency, as well as some complementary soft-skills such as teamwork, problem-solving, interpersonal skills, and integrity.

As part of the Leadership Academy curriculum, you will develop an ePortfolio reflecting on your personal experiences related to each skillset, self-assessing your competency level for each area, and identifying an artifact that best represents the culmination of your experiences. Furthermore, you will develop a vision for your own leadership.

The ePortfolio tool will be an important repository for your career development and job prospects as it will readily be presented to your employer for job promotions and career advancement.

Leadership will increase the breadth of application for technical education by enhancing your competency to apply your knowledge, skills, and abilities in cyber contexts.”

Mesut Akdere
Director, Purdue Cyber Apprenticeship Program Leadership Academy​

Ultimately, your leadership style will be a reflection of who you are as a professional and the way you choose to engage with all aspects of your work and career. The Leadership Academy provides a series of tools to assist and enable you in that leadership development journey. Leadership is a competency that is highly valued in cyber-related industries. Moreover, your leadership competency will certainly differentiate you in today’s competitive job market!

To be eligible for the Purdue Cyber Apprenticeship Program Leadership Academy you must:

  • be a Registered Apprentice (Apply Now)
  • Possess a minimum of 24 college-level credit hours (1 year of college) OR have at least 500 hours of prior work experience

Interested in applying for a cyber apprenticeship?

Sign Up

Developing soft skills for your cybersecurity career

There are numerous types of jobs in cyber-related fields, each requiring technical credentials and soft-skills to be successful. The federal agency, National Institute for Standards and Technology, through their National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), determined the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) needed to do every kind of cybersecurity job, including personal effectiveness and workplace competencies.


Deming, D. J. (2017). The Growing Importance of Social Skills in the Labor Market.

Leadership Academy Team

Mesut Akdere

Professor of Human Resource Development ​
Director, Purdue Cyber Apprenticeship Program Leadership Academy​
Director, Purdue HRD Virtual Lab​
Director, Purdue HR Analytics Interactive Learning Lab​
Faculty Fellow, Polytechnic Future Work & Learning Research Impact Area​
Email: leadershipacademy@purdue.edu​
Read Bio

Flavio Lobo

Graduate Research Assistant​
Ph.D. in Technology Program

Technology Leadership & Innovation, Purdue Polytechnic Institute

About the NICE Framework

The leadership competency components in the P-CAP Leadership Academy are identified from the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Cybersecurity Workforce Framework (NIST, 2017). The framework integrates both technical and non-technical training to help develop well-rounded, competent cybersecurity experts.

Management Competencies

Occupation Specific Requirements

TIER 5 – Industry-Sector Functional AreasSecurity Provision SystemOperate & Maintain IT SecurityProtect & Defend from ThreatsInvestigate ThreatsCollect Information & Operate CybersecurityOversee & Govern Cybersecurity Work
TIER 4 – Industry-Wide Technical CompetenciesCybersecurity TechnologyInformation AssuranceRisk ManagementIncident DetectionIncident Response & Remediation
TIER 3 – Workplace CompetenciesTeamworkPlanning & OrganizingCreative ThinkingProblem Solving & Decision MakingWorking with Tools & Technology Business Fundamentals
TIER 2 – Academic Competencies Reading Writing MathematicsScienceCommunicationCritical & Analytic ThinkingFundamental IT Skills
TIER 1 – Personal Effectiveness CompetenciesInterpersonal SkillsIntegrityProfessionalismInitiativeAdaptability & FlexibilityLifelong Learning
To learn more information, visit:
The NICE framework: https://nvlpubs.nist.gov/nistpubs/SpecialPublications/NIST.SP.800-181.pdf
The Cybersecurity Competency and Industry Model:  https://www.careeronestop.org/CompetencyModel/competency-models/cybersecurity.aspx

Leadership Academy FAQs

Leadership competency augments the breadth of application for technical education by increasing the ability to apply acquired cyber knowledge across a greater variety of contexts. The P-CAP Leadership Academy model is designed to develop leadership competency by immersing participant apprentices in various cybersecurity-related workplace situations through critical reflection, and career development. The P-CAP Leadership Academy is a key component of the Purdue Cyber Apprenticeship Program.
The P-CAP Leadership Academy will complement the technical component of the apprenticeship training through incorporating four essential social skills critical for the contemporary cyber workplace: teamwork, problem-solving & decision-making, interpersonal skills, and integrity; and naturally, leadership competency is an integral part of the program. Specifically, apprentices will begin developing these social skills through their training curricula and will apply upon their knowledge through the P-CAP Leadership Academy’s microlearning model.
Yes, the P-CAP Leadership Academy is a critical component of the Purdue Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program and all participants are required to successfully complete the Academy before they can graduate from the program.
Yes, it is an interactive learning experience based on a series of activities hosted on the P-CAP Leadership Academy platform.
To enroll in the P-CAP Leadership Academy, a participant must have earned at least 24 credit-hours (typically one year of college) and must have a minimum of 500 hours of work experience in a cyber-related job.
No, all P-CAP participants are automatically enrolled in the P-CAP Leadership Academy once they meet the minimum requirements.
No, in fact each participant will have an individualized timeline while in the P-CAP Leadership Academy and can start as soon as the minimum requirements have been met.
Once participants are eligible to join the P-CAP Leadership Academy, they will have up to 12 months to complete the program.
The P-CAP Leadership Academy experience is about self-development and discovery, and consequently is not a “Pass/Fail” type of curriculum. The only way a participant can fail the P-CAP Leadership Academy is by not completing all required components.
Although participation to P-CAP Leadership Academy will commence as soon as participants meet participation requirements, the timeline will vary for each participant. Each participant will have up to 12 months to complete the program.
The P-CAP Leadership Academy uses the concept of “microlearning”, with the support of guided readings, videos, self-reflection and personalized coaching/feedback as a way for the participants to learn about the soft skills. Furthermore, they get the opportunity to develop an ePortfolio, which is an additional step to help participants further synthesize their knowledge, skills, and abilities.
IThe P-CAP Leadership Academy accordion-content is delivered completely online.
The P-CAP Leadership Academy will work with each P-CAP apprentice individually offering guidance as participants explore and immerse in each skill set. The microlearning process includes steps such as: identifying an artifact for each social skill and reflecting upon both academic classroom learning and workplace experiences during P-CAP; reflecting and articulating how a particular project, assignment, work task or activity helped participants develop a particular social skill; and developing plans to further advance leadership competency of that skill as participants can possess varying levels of the associated soft skills.
The P-CAP Leadership Academy is a required component of the P-CAP program, so a participant needs to successfully complete the Academy in order to graduate from the P-CAP.
As part of the P-CAP Leadership Academy, participants will develop an ePortfolio reflecting on their levels of competence for each skill area through presenting personal information (profile picture/video, bibliography, resume) and critical reflections on artifacts that best represent each of the social skills. Additionally, the ePortofolio will capture their personal vision of leadership and will serve as a reference for future career development activities.
Participants need to complete all five modules of the P-CAP Leadership Academy (leadership, interpersonal skills, integrity, collaborative skills, problem-solving & decision-making skills). There are self-assessments that also need to be completed at different stages in the P-CAP Leadership Academy and the final self-assessment is taken approximately two months after the participant completes the P-CAP Leadership Academy and joins the Virtual Learning Community. After that final self-assessment, participants will have met all P-CAP Leadership Academy milestones and will receive a certificate of participation.
Once participants reach the end of their P-CAP Leadership Academy journey, they automatically join the P-CAP Leadership Academy Virtual Learning Community, a forum where they can share experiences and learn from their fellow P-CAP participants who also graduated from the P-CAP Leadership Academy.
Yes, the Learning Community is a required activity in the P-CAP Leadership Academy. In fact, the final milestone in the Academy is a last self-assessment, conducted after the participant has engaged in the Learning Community for at least 2 months.
The Learning Community is meant to provide all P-CAP Leadership Academy participants with an informal learning environment through peer support and mentoring, as participants now engage with peers to share experiences and learn from each other. The Learning Community will also support P-CAP alumni who collaborate as mentors to incoming apprentices, serving as a platform for coaching/support. Given the breadth of applications and potential benefits to all involved, participants are expected to actively contribute to the on-going discussion threads in the Learning Community. Participants are also encouraged to engage in the Learning Community to help our recruitment efforts among underrepresented minorities, so we can attract a diverse group of participants to the program.
The ePortfolio currently does not have an expiration date and participants are encouraged to keep updating it as their career progresses.
No, a participant only needs to complete the P-CAP Leadership Academy once. If a participant changes jobs while going through the Academy journey, it should not affect their ability to complete the Academy. The Learning Community is meant to be the platform participants will use to continue to develop their leadership competencies, regardless of eventual job changes.