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.

Ash Carter is the Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School. He is also an Innovation Fellow at MIT.  For over 35 years, Carter has leveraged his experience in national security, technology, and innovation to defend the United States and make a better world.  He has done so under presidents of both political parties as well as in the private sector. 

As Secretary of Defense from 2015 to 2017, Carter pushed the Pentagon to “think outside its five-sided box.” He changed the trajectory of the military campaign to deliver ISIS a lasting defeat, designed and executed the strategic pivot to the Asia-Pacific, established a new playbook for the US and NATO to confront Russia’s aggression, and launched a national cyber strategy. Carter also spearheaded revolutionary improvements to the Department of Defense, developing new technological capabilities, leading the “Force of the Future” initiative to transform the way the department recruits, trains, and retains quality people, opening all military positions to women, and building bridges to America’s technology community.

Carter earned a BA from Yale University and a PhD in theoretical physics from the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.


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