Nov 6, 2020
Jerry Davis has spent decades succeeding in hard jobs supporting
critically important missions. He is a decorated combat Veteran who
served in he US Marines for 11 years including in Operation Desert
Storm/Desert Shield. He also served in the Central Intelligence
Agency in service to world wide missions including leveraging
technology in denied areas against high profile targets.
Jerry would later become the first CISO at the US Department of
Education, then the CISO for NASA and later the CISO for the
Department of Veterans Affairs. He returned to NASA as the
CIO for the Ames Research Center, a position he held till 2018.
Jerry currently provides strategic consulting and design
assistance focused on mitigating risk to mission critical programs
and activities, including some of the most interesting activities
humans are planning on conducting in space.
This OODAcast we ask Jerry about his approaches to leadership
and management, what motivated him to pursue the hard jobs, and how
his early times in the field with the CIA helped him throughout his
career (he learned to be a really good critical thinker, and also
credited the fact that he learned by being exposed to many
different cultures, all of which translated well to the cyber
world). Jerry clearly has a fond place in his heart for
intelligence and the community, and makes the point that even
though the IC has huge technological components, but it is really a
people centered business. The importance of training and practice
and honing skills was also a key part of Jerry’s background
including how to think on your feet. He is a believer in planning
and having backup plans and backups to the backup plans. No plan
survives first contact, so learn to be agile.
We also examined Jerry’s leadership methods in organizations
that are reluctant to change but need to. Jerry also has deep
experience leading security in collegial environments (like leading
security for the NASA mission centers).
Jerry is a future focused person who is closely tracking the US
space program and its many interesting programs (like Artemis, the
return of humans to the moon). We ask his views on the future and
the technology and risks we all need to mitigate to optimize the