Ashton 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.

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.

More information on Ash Carter from the Washington Speakers Bureau.