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  5. Minisode 12: Bring the Best You Have, Innovate and Push

Bring the Best You Have, Innovate and Push

TechSpeak The Bonus S&T Podcast

In this Tech Speak mini episode, listen to the keynote address S&T Under Secretary Dr. Dimitri Kusnezov delivered at the July 6 commencement ceremony for the Master of Business Administration in Security Technology Transition program at George Washington University, an S&T Center of Excellence. Dr. Kusnezov addressed 26 mid-career federal employees, who not only were the first to complete the program but did it during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Listen as Dr. Kusnezov honors the graduates’ accomplishments and congratulates them on their monumental achievements.

Run time: 07:37
Release date: July 26, 2023

Show Notes

Guest: Dr. Dimitri Kusnezov, Under Secretary for Science and Technology 

[00:00:00] Dave: Welcome to Tech Speak, a mini episode of the Technologically Speaking Podcast. I'm Dave, editor for S&T. On July 6th, 26 mid-career employees, 25 of them currently working at DHS, graduated from the MBA in Security Technology Transition Program at George Washington University, one of S&T's Centers of Excellence. Not only are they the first ever to complete the rigorous program, but they did it at the height of the COVID 19 pandemic. S&T Under Secretary, Dr. Dimitri Kusnezov, delivered remarks at the commencement ceremony and we're bringing you his speech now, edited slightly for time. Let's listen as Dr. Kusnezov honors the graduates’ accomplishments.

[00:00:38] Dr. Kusnezov: I love being back on campuses. It always feels like home, you know? And so, this is always a special pleasure to come and recognize people. I think it's more important today because of the choices you made in going back to school, having jobs that are significant in an agency that is significant, doing things that are in the news and operationally relevant every moment of every day around the clock, and USMC. So, I looked at your bios, and I was impressed. In thinking about what it took to go back to school and the jobs that you had already, which are substantive, the roles you have, some of you with kids, some with several kids, everyone with obligations, coming into this before COVID hit, you know, committing to do this, and then the world turned inside out and, and the workplace, which was our home. Now the home became our workplace and you stuck through it. I looked at the components you represent here, TSA, FEMA, Secret Service, CISA, CBP, Coast Guard, CFO, CPO, Management, ICE, S&T, and US Marine Corps. I have met all of your leadership. I have to say, they are committed people to the mission. They care about the people. They are, interested in innovating and leaning forward. It is a great time to be doing what you're doing because your leadership out there is working hard and cares about this.

[00:02:14] And so a lot of things align, and I think it is the right time to do this. I appreciate the fact that most of you missed dinners, missed events, life events, to do homework, to study, not trivial for a couple of years. Really thanks to GW for making this happen, for putting together the core classes here to make this useful. There are interesting distinctions as, as I kind of reflect on, on how the world changes and, and what the expectations are of you. When you're an undergraduate, you do your homework. There are problems that are presented to you. 

[00:02:54] And so you understand conceptually there is a pathway from A to B and most likely it's something you can do in an evening or, or whenever. It is not a, a hard task, it's a matter of doing the work. When you come into graduate classes, when you do things like this, it's different because now you're trusting that there is an advisor, a faculty who, who understands a question to pose for you. The questions are more open-ended, but you have the sense that while they're harder, there is likely a pathway to understand the problem and, and to figure out how to understand the world in the context of the problem. You have to look at the world and ask the questions and try and understand is the question I'm asking of whether these technologies or these opportunities or this approach to non-traditional innovation or what, whatever it is, is it well posed?

[00:03:51] Is it an answerable question? If I can't answer it, is it relevant? Will anyone care? And it might be that they're not answerable and, and maybe you're, you're led in different directions, but now you have to find your way because there is no more answer in the back of the book and hopefully all the experience you've gained in trying to understand what real life problems look like prepares you for the world you're stepping into because it is changing at a remarkable pace. And we need a lot of people, certainly at DHS and in government thinking about these kinds of problems. With respect to emerging technology and security technology and the transitions of these into practice, it isn’t a typical moment we find ourselves in today with everything happening so fast.

[00:04:39] It's not just AI. It is suites of emerging technologies moving so fast that in six months’ time things are different. And, and whether it's, uh, AI you know, quantum technologies for position, navigation and timing or radar or sensor, domain awareness or UAS technologies. The suite of technologies is exploding out there and they're all starting to work together in ways that we don't understand. And there is no historical context for the moment you find yourself in today. With this breadth of things happening that are all starting to work together.

[00:05:19] And will have positive impact and negative impact in ways you have to understand and help all of us in government figure out how to best prepare our agencies for the responsibilities we have. And I think it's especially non-trivial today, and I really commend you for being able to do this. It's a moment in time when you can't think of this as just a technology either. Because in government, we're also part of the, the US position in the great power competition today, which is based in emerging technologies. As we think about how the world is changing, the things you do, the, the places you spend your time have impact on how the US thinks about and implements these technologies and what they mean.
[00:06:09] It is more than just your narrow piece of the world. It is in the landscape of what this nation is trying to do and what the opportunities are. The pace of change is remarkable. You know, it used to be just that if you were a CEO or a business leader, technology was your opportunity in vain, and it was largely cybersecurity or ransomware or things like that. But now with adversarial AI, with autonomous systems with everything out there, this is just exploded. And again, that's why we have no context for where we are today, from where we came from. You have to be able to step back and look at the world and all of the challenges. Bring the best you have, and innovate and, and push. 

[00:06:58] I hear kids here. I would've brought some Paw Patrol stuff. But it's great to see families and friends and, congratulations to our first cohort and looking forward to great things. 

[00:07:13] Dave: Those were inspiring words delivered by Under Secretary Kusnezov. We at S&T want to echo Dr. Kusnezov’s sentiment and send a huge congratulations to all the graduates. Job well done. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors. To learn more about the program, visit us at DH SciTech DHS, S C I T E C H. Bye.

Last Updated: 04/01/2024
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