Mike Shaw faced a tough assignment in 2005: Develop a corporate security program, from the ground up, for personal computer maker Lenovo. Lenovo is the world’s fourth largest personal computer manufacturer, with 25,000 employees worldwide in 160 locations on six continents.
Too tough? Not for Shaw. He brought 12 years of experience in corporate security at IBM and other firms, and 14 years in law enforcement to the job. He also had another important advantage. His studies at American Military University’s (AMU) online security management degree program provided the critical thinking skills he needed to better research solutions, evaluate options – and make the right decision.
For Shaw, pursuing his master’s degree was key to both earning his new position – and performing it successfully. “There is very strong competition for upper management positions,” Shaw said. “Education was my differentiator.”
Online learning was the only workable option for Shaw. His workday begins at 7 a.m. and continues into the evening to account for global time zones. He also travels internationally nearly a dozen times a year.
Security Management Degrees OnlineAccording to a 2007 Sloan Consortium report, online learning’s nearly 10 percent growth rate far exceeds the 1.5 percent growth for other higher education. Today’s professionals require the flexibility that online learning provides. AMU, for example, offers asynchronous learning and monthly class starts. Students access the classroom – when and where it is convenient for them – through a secure student home page. From there, they can:
- Review lecture notes and class assignments;
- Conduct research, with access to more than 12,000
leading journals and databases;
- Take tests;
- Participate in course “online chats,” discussion
boards or group projects; and
- Set up a personalized degree path profile to track academic progress.
The online security management program covers a wide range of career-relevant topics, including global terrorism, risk analysis and loss prevention, legal and ethical issues, and corporate espionage.
These “real world” academics are exactly what AMU student Ed Lawson needed. A former Marine, Lawson is now a recruiter for the Transportation Security Administration. He is based at Dulles Airport, outside Washington, D.C., and is pursuing his bachelor’s degree in emergency and disaster management, with a concentration in homeland security.
He says many of his professors continue their work in the homeland security arena and bring that knowledge to the classroom. That has been especially helpful when the class reviews and analyzes FEMA’s National Incident Management System. “They’re not caught behind the walls of academia.”
Lawson also says his fellow students add to that knowledge. His courses include a mix of those in law enforcement, military, customs and more. “They offer perspectives that I can apply to my job,” Lawson said.