Case Study

Training Executives on Cyber Risk

With Bridge, Pepperdine University bridged the executive-security officer communication gap.

C-level executives who manage multiple departments need to focus on their people and their strategy. While data and information security are taken very seriously, executives don’t always know how to interpret or apply what the CiSO is telling them. They need a broad understanding of this information (and access to tools that can help) so that they can make informed decisions about cyber risk.

The Objective

Data breaches are now a common cost of doing business across the world. This is an ongoing risk, and companies need to incorporate data protection into their business strategies. The Center for Strategic and International Studies estimates the annual cost of cybercrime and economic espionage to the world economy may be as high as $445 billion. (To put that in perspective, that’s 1 percent of global income.) According to IBM, on average, the cost of a breach has risen to $4 million per incident.


As if that monetary cost weren’t enough, breaches also impact company reputation and stock price and frequently result in the departure of the CEO. In 2015, when PwC asked what made a particular incident “the worst,” 16 out of 39 organizations cited the damage to their reputation as having the greatest impact.


In order to contribute to the safety of their business, executives must understand what their CiSOs are telling them with regards to business security and data breaches. But it can be difficult to find time for training, especially when most professionals work an average of 72 hours a week.

Pepperdine’s Approach

With the goal of developing value-centered leaders and advancing value-centered business practices that are entrepreneurial in spirit, ethical in focus, and global in orientation, Pepperdine University wanted to leverage its extensive network of global cyber-risk experts to provide cutting-edge training for busy executives. Its goal was to help executives understand the technical cautions around data and information security they may receive from their internal teams.


While Pepperdine has a long tradition of excellence in education, data and security certification would be their first foray into online learning for executives. As such, Pepperdine wanted to ensure a premium executive experience. To this end, Pepperdine focused on three strategies:


  • DON’T JUST OPEN THE DOORS, OPEN THE FLOODGATES: Pepperdine wanted to deliver their engaging, valuable certifications to executives all across the world, but it’s a challenge to ask top executives to take time to travel for professional development. With online certifications, any executive, no matter their time zone or work schedule, is able to participate and learn how to protect themselves, their teams, and their businesses from security and data breaches.
  • LEVERAGE MORE EXPERTISE THROUGH INNOVATION: As part of their premium offering, Pepperdine leveraged state-of-the-art instructional methodology—like video-based content and social experiences—that’s attractive to 21st-century learners. This approach increased engagement learner-to-learner and learner-to-expert. With the recorded content and trainings in its curriculum, Pepperdine was able to give executives more access to experts, instead of having to book time for experts to fly into a central location. Executives were also able to access a greater depth of content because they could access the content on their own time, and they could dig in more deeply with the additional tools and resources provided by Pepperdine. Further, executives could apply the knowledge in their own businesses and then interface with experts for feedback and input.
  • PROMOTE PEPPERDINE’S CORE VALUES THROUGH ITS DYNAMIC LEARNING COMMUNITY: Pepperdine wanted to share the excellence-based content and experience of its dynamic learning community with as many executives as possible. To accomplish this, they ensured that executives could focus on the curriculum while the state-of-the-art educational technology ran transparently in the background.

How Pepperdine Measures Success

By scaling its certification through online learning, Pepperdine has helped more executives feel prepared for their roles by knowing how to operate more safely in their businesses. 

  • This program has kickstarted the online offerings for executive education through Pepperdine. Through its successful launch, Pepperdine has developed a model for others to emulate.
  • The executive education also helps contribute to an ongoing initiative at Pepperdine, called Waves of Innovation. The focus on this initiative is to infuse strategies and technology that cultivate the future of cutting-edge education.

To learn more about how Pepperdine is preparing today's business leaders for data and security challenges with Bridge, contact us at [email protected] or 877.576.5364.