Guest Speaker: Major General Brett T. Williams Chief Operating Officer, IronNet Cybersecurity, retired Air Force General and global cybercommand leader for US Department of Defense, Leadership Coach


Major General Brett Williams

Join us for this special presentation and interactive discussion with guest speaker, Major General Brett T. WilliamsGeneral Williams has held four executive leadership roles for a variety of large, complex organizations including as Director of Operations for U.S. Cyber Command for the Department of Defense and  Inspector General for Air Combat Command (US Air Force), before retiring and transitioning into the field of IT and cybersecurity. Currently, Brett is a co-founder and the Chief Operating Officer at IronNet Cybersecurity and a much sought-after Executive Leadership Coach specializing in multigenerational, technology leadership in large organizations.

About this topic and what we’ll discuss:

The Baby Boomers — those who aren’t retiring, at least — have the benefit of experience. Generation X workers have patiently “waited their turn,” and they feel that they should move into leadership positions by virtue of their working their way up. But companies are desperately in need of the technology skills, the flexibility and adaptability of millennials, and that’s pushing many of them into leadership roles, which can be really disruptive.  — Dan Schawbel (Partner, Future Workplace, author of “Promote Yourself”)



THE BIG QUESTIONS:  According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, within the next 5-10 years, every industry and business in the country will be losing a large segment of their workforce — especially those workers who are in management and leadership positions who will retire.

  • How can organizations empower employees to develop technology leadership skills for a diverse, multigenerational workforce that will drive responsible, ethical innovation (and profits!) in the future and through the massive, cultural changes that will disrupt the workforce by 2025?
  • What can employees who are not in leadership positions now do to fastrack their way into more leadership roles in the next 5 years (where the demand for leadership expertise is expected to explode)?
  • For startups, how can entrepreneurs develop leaders on limited funding to help them avoid the mistakes that big companies like Uber and WeWork made with their early leadership decisions?
  • And how might employee activism and techlash be used as an instrument to help companies redefine leadership, corporate culture, and customer engagement for the next era?

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Organizations today are experiencing unprecedented disruption in leadership. This year saw the highest number of CEO departures from corporations (even higher than at the peak of the 2008 crash) with 1,160 U.S. based companies announcing CEO exits through September with most departures due to unethical behavior (according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas).

And with the explosion of employee-activism  publicly denouncing and challenging companies on how they develop and deploy technologies (and who they sell their tech to), there is a huge, cultural disconnect between the leaders at the top who will be retiring in the next decade, and younger employees who are growing increasingly frustrated, impatient, and feel unheard. But there is no greater challenge for organizations today than transitioning leadership from Baby Boomers to Millennials and training younger, more diverse generations to be talented leaders who continue to drive innovation and profits with social responsibility.

With the guidance of Major General Williams, we will explore this crucial topic through the lense of employee activism (techlash) and the recent Business Roundtable Letter signed by 181 CEOs pledging to change the purpose of their organizations. Read General Williams’ recent blog posts on the topic: Leadership—technology changes everything? and Good leaders do 3 things well: Communicate, Communicate and Communicate!

Lite bites, beverages and wine will be served.

About General Williams – a Lifetime of Leadership

Leadership is technology agnostic.  No matter how much technology evolves the basic tenets of a good leader remain the same.  And good leaders can lead any organization even if you do not have native domain expertise.  I have proven this at least twice now in my career.  My basic approach to leadership at the executive level is that it is my job to provide vision, resources and motivation and then get out of the way.  Try to get people to operate on the principle of “beg forgiveness, don’t ask permission.”  In other words make sure they have the confidence to take risks, make decisions and move us forward.” — Major General Brett T. Williams

During his time as an Air Force General Officer, Brett Williams served in four senior executive leadership positions.  As the Director of Operations (J3) at U.S. Cyber Command, he led a team of 400 people responsible for the global operations and defense of all Department of Defense networks as well as the planning and execution of authorized offensive operations.  Prior to this position, he served as Director of Operations (A3O), U.S. Air Force, where he led the largest Air Staff directorate consisting of more than 1300 Airmen and civilians stationed world-wide.  In this role, he developed and justified the operations component of the annual $120B Air Force budget.

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General Brett Williams

General Williams also served as the Director of Communications (J6) for U.S. Pacific Command. His 150-person directorate executed an annual budget of $57M and was responsible for the design, implementation and operation of all command and control networks supporting Department of Defense’s largest geographic warfighting command.  As the Inspector General for Air Combat Command, he led the inspection, audit and compliance process for all U.S based combat flying organizations.

Operationally, General Williams led a variety of large, complex organizations ranging in size from 300 to over 9000 personnel.  In his most significant leadership position as 18th Wing Commander in Okinawa, Japan, he led the largest combat wing in the Air Force. General Williams was responsible for relationships with Japanese political and business leaders in a highly volatile community environment. He executed an annual budget in excess of $100M to support a community of over 25,000 U.S. service members, their families and Japanese employees.  In this significant leadership role, he delivered success across a wide variety of mission areas to include aircraft operations, aircraft maintenance, logistics, civil engineering, security and policing, community support, human resources, financial management and medical services.  Brett is an F-15C fighter pilot with over 28 years of flying experience, including more than 100 combat missions.

After 28 years of leading flying operations, Brett transitioned into the field of IT and cybersecurity. Currently, Brett is a co-founder and the Chief Operating Officer at IronNet Cybersecurity.  IronNet delivers the power of collective cybersecurity to defend companies, sectors and nations.  Their advanced cyber detection solution leverages behavioral analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning to protect against the most advanced threats.  As COO, Brett supports strategic planning, leads execution against Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), evaluates corporate performance metrics, drives leader development and handles special projects for the CEO.

Brett is a highly regarded keynote speaker, leadership mentor, and cybersecurity expert.  He has appeared several times on national television, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee and is a sought-after subject matter expert.  Brett has served as a faculty member with the National Association of Corporate Directors Board Advisory Services and teaching board-level cyber-risk seminars.  He has served on the Defense Science Board as well as a variety of corporate advisory boards.  Brett holds a BS in Computer Science from Duke University and three graduate degrees in management and national security studies.


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