Ash Carter
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Secretary Carter’s presentation was superb and insightful. Onsite he was friendly, engaged and generous with his time both before and after he spoke. His comments inspired my colleagues to think about global events and the U.S. government in a different and more informed way.
Denis Bovin, Evercore

Ash Carter

U.S. Secretary of Defense (2015–2017); Deputy Secretary of Defense (2011–2013)

As Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter led the Pentagon to launch game-changing initiatives and embrace innovative practices to ensure the Defense Department wins today’s fights and prepares for tomorrow’s challenges. His unique insight and experience leading the Pentagon at a time of global change allows him to speak to the complexity of global events, large-scale operations, technology and cybersecurity, and the future of business transformation.

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Geopolitical Forecast: Asia, Russia and Global Hot Spots

Like all organizations, the Defense Department is operating at a time of global change. The rapidly growing Asia-Pacific is increasingly becoming the world’s economic, political and military center of gravity. An emboldened and newly aggressive Russia is modernizing its tactical, technological and cyber intelligence capabilities. And the threat of terrorism, whether from the Islamic State or homegrown ‘lone-wolf’ actors, must be countered. Ash Carter describes the new defense playbook and demonstrates how to take the lessons of history and leverage our nation’s and military’s unique strengths in new ways for new threats. He demonstrates how to develop more agile strategies that prioritize the expansion of cybersecurity capabilities and other modern tools alongside continued dynamic diplomacy. As the U.S. adapts its leadership role in a changing global landscape, he deftly outlines the issues and the fights that will define the years to come.

Rebuilding a Bridge to the Future: Silicon Valley and the Intersection of Public and Private Sectors

As the first Defense Secretary to travel to Silicon Valley in over 20 years, Ash Carter prioritizes the need for rebuilding the partnerships between proven private-sector visionaries and the public sector in order to hone the U.S. military’s unrivaled edge. An experienced technologist with deep experience and roots in America’s tech and investment communities, Carter implemented revolutionary new programs at the Defense Department, drawing in the brightest minds from leading companies like Google and Apple and elsewhere to help the Pentagon “think outside its five-sided box,” and change how the Defense Department develops technology, conducts military operations, and recruits, trains and retains its people. With a creative, inclusive approach, Carter provides strategies for the flexible thinking necessary to promote security in the cyber age, compete for talent in a 21st-century workforce, and develop leading new technologies.

The Imperative to Innovate: Transformational Leadership for Business

A passionate and savvy creative thinker with a knack for effectively challenging the status quo and finding dynamic and agile solutions to any organizational challenge, Ash Carter guides audiences on the revolutionary journey he took to transform the Pentagon so it could win today’s fights and simultaneously prepare to win tomorrow’s. Drawing on experience during the Cold War, the post-Cold War era and wars against terrorism, Carter accelerated the campaign against the Islamic State, designed and executed the pivot to the Asia-Pacific, and developed the new playbook to confront Russia’s recent aggression, all the while remaining dedicated to ensuring the military was ready for an uncertain future and for challenges the nation may not anticipate today. He did so by pushing the Defense Department to innovate in its technology, its operations and planning, its organizational systems and practices, and its talent management. As a result, Carter helps leaders think through how they can lead their organizations and their people to meet current missions even as they prepare for what an uncertain future may bring.

Meet Ash Carter

As Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter led the Pentagon to launch game-changing initiatives and embrace innovative practices to ensure the Defense Department wins today’s fights and prepares for tomorrow’s challenges. His unique insight and experience leading the Pentagon at a time of global change allows him to speak to the complexity of global events, large-scale operations, technology and cybersecurity, and the future of business transformation.

For over 35 years inside government under presidents of both political parties as well as in the private sector, Ash Carter has leveraged his extraordinary experience in national security, technology and innovation to defend the United States and make a better world. Leading the largest organization in the world with more than three million civilian and military employees and an annual budget of more than half a trillion dollars, Carter became known for his savvy leadership and for ensuring the Pentagon thought “outside its five-sided box.” As a national security leader, Carter energized the global military campaign to deliver ISIL a lasting defeat, designed and executed the strategic pivot to the Asia-Pacific, established the Defense Department and NATO’s new playbook for confronting Russia’s recent aggression, and launched the Defense Department’s latest cyber strategy. At a time of global change and congressional gridlock, Carter transformed the way the Defense Department fought adversaries, planned and budgeted, partnered with private enterprises, and recruited, trained and retained people. In addition, he spearheaded revolutionary improvements in the Defense Department’s technological and operational capabilities. Carter provides unique insights into how leaders and executives can challenge the status quo and prepare their organizations and their personnel to compete in a changing world. He also offers an insider’s informed point of view on what global audiences should expect from these challenges and more, especially as they relate to cybersecurity, terrorism and other hot-button concerns.

As WIRED magazine explained, “With his hefty intellect and background of getting things done at the Pentagon,” Carter’s “defining leadership skill goes underreported: He’s really good at connecting with people.” Carter is as comfortable giving advice to presidents, generals and legislators as he is talking with business leaders, Silicon Valley innovators, scholars and academics, and America’s troops. He has demonstrated his communication and people skills in the Pentagon Press Briefing Room, on Capitol Hill, and on television’s Morning Joe, Charlie Rose and Late Night with Seth Meyers. His unique vision and wide-ranging experience will help the leaders of any type of organization chart a course into the uncertain future. Among his many awards and recognitions, Carter received the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal, the department’s highest civilian honor, on five separate occasions. Well regarded by his military counterparts, Carter was also twice awarded the Joint Distinguished Service Medal by the Chairman and Joint Chiefs of Staff. A Rhodes Scholar with a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Oxford in theoretical physics, Carter has authored or co-authored 11 books and more than 100 articles on physics, technology, national security and management.

In March 2017, the Harvard Kennedy School announced that Carter would be joining as professor of Technology and Global Affairs and director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He continues to build relationships between the nation's tech community and its public purpose to help our nation seize the many opportunities before us, and maintains a focus beyond national security on a wider range of issues including autonomy, artificial intelligence, biotech, and other advances that impact our economy, society and other areas of public policy.


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Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff (2011-2015); Chief of Staff, U.S. Army (2011); Chairman, USA Basketball; Professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and Sanford School of Public Policy

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