Student Spotlight

Khalil Jackson

Senior Vice President, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Class of 2019

“The MS CRS program could not come at a better time to serve executives across the US and the globe.” 

If there’s an art to the design of cyber security systems, Khalil Jackson’s background as a jazz musician may give him a grace note or two of insight in his role as senior vice president of application and architecture security at Bank of America. In that role, Khalil (MS CRS ’19) is responsible for providing standards, baselines, and reference architecture for building and integrating secure technology platforms across the bank. His brief also includes talent development and management.

An auto-didact in computer technology, Khalil paid his dues climbing the ranks at an investment bank in technical leadership roles. “With hindsight,” he says, “I now realize that my musical background serves me well to look at creative solutions to the technical problems I’ve encountered during my more than 20-year career in computer technology.”

Coming from the technical side, Khalil sought out the MS CRS program with the aim of acquiring familiarity with the legal and policy aspects of cybersecurity. “It is more important than ever to ensure that we have leaders who have skills and knowledge in both technical and legal fields of expertise,” he says. “The CRS program allows me to work closely with staff, faculty, and students from a wide range of professional backgrounds,  helping me to round out my expertise.”  

Khalil’s understanding of cybersecurity’s critical role in today’s world is amplified through his experience as an officer in the US Army, which he joined on a leave of absence from Wall Street nearly a decade ago. With two deployments to Afghanistan under his belt, he continues to serve stateside, actively contributing to various national security initiatives at a strategic and tactical level. The experience continues to inform his multilayered perspective in several ways. For one, Khalil feels strongly that he is duty-bound to develop talent who integrate a cybersecurity mindset from the outset and that this mission is a national priority.

“Both the public and private sector have along way to go to get to where we need to be,” he says. “It is critical that our public and private sector leaders recognize, advocate for, and fund the steps necessary to manage the global cybersecurity risk. This means a focus on education and developing a workforce that deliberately includes diverse personal and professional backgrounds. Good leaders must proactively sponsor their rising stars to equip them with the skills they need to stay ahead of tomorrow’s cybersecurity challenges and opportunities.

“The global economy makes this a problem that is greater than any one country. From the ransomware hack on the UK healthcare system to the use of social media to influence US elections to the disclosure of personal information by a major credit bureau, there is much to do and understand in the field of cybersecurity. The MS CRS program could not come at a better time to serve executives across the US and the globe.”