Stanford Seminar - Silicon Valley & The U.S. Government: The Honorable Sue Gordon

Stanford Seminar - Silicon Valley & The U.S. Government: The Honorable Sue Gordon

Sue Gordon's Career Journey

  • Sue Gordon was recruited by the CIA despite her degree in Zoology due to her potential.
  • She held various leadership positions within the CIA, NGA, and DNI.
  • Gordon emphasizes the importance of taking on challenging roles, learning from failures, and adapting to the evolving intelligence landscape.
  • She stresses the significance of collaboration and partnerships, continuous learning, and developing new approaches to meet emerging threats.

Challenges and Lessons Learned

  • Gordon faced setbacks, including a politically sensitive call that resulted in a demotion, but she persevered and worked on a top-secret spacecraft project.
  • She encountered obstacles in a project to retrieve data from a clandestine source due to misunderstandings with stakeholders.
  • Gordon emphasizes the need to understand all stakeholders and risks, think about the entire ecosystem, and avoid micromanagement.

Innovation and Partnerships

  • The CIA's mission is National Security, and it needs to rethink its approach to open-source information and classification.
  • To drive innovation, individuals and organizations must focus on what they are trying to achieve and let go of traditional methods.
  • Public-private partnerships need to change to attract Silicon Valley talent and capabilities.
  • In-Q-Tel's success was due to the government's willingness to give up classified information and intellectual property to attract private sector partners.

Lessons from Recent Conflicts

  • Lessons from Ukraine include the continued trend of transparency and the value of commercial capabilities for intelligence gathering.
  • Lessons from the Israel-Hamas conflict highlight concerns about over-reliance on technology, the need for effective information sharing, and understanding decision-making processes around intelligence deployment.

Advice for Government Service

  • The speaker advises individuals considering government service to view it as an extended gap year, offering unique learning opportunities and early responsibilities.
  • A security clearance is valuable, and individuals should explore other career options after gaining experience in government service.

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