A Conversation with Boeing's CSO

We had the opportunity to sit down with Dave Komendat, the vice president and Chief Security Officer (CSO) for The Boeing Company. He leads the Security and Fire Protection organization providing risk management services and standards to protect people, property and information across the company.

Dave first attended The Great Conversation in Security approximately six years ago and was immediately struck with the size and scope of the forum. “It was a surprise”, said Dave. “There was a community of security executives I was unaware of since I had spent most of my time with companies of the same size and scale as Boeing.”

This connection with various size companies proved rewarding. “Mid-size companies have the same challenges or greater as us”, said Dave. “And they have to address them with fewer resources. This leads them to innovation and change.”

Sharing those perspectives and approaches is difficult in any setting. “The Great Conversation is unique in its ability to tap into the challenges that are common to all levels of our profession; mid-level to senior executives”, said Dave. “The dialogue between attendees is promoted through a sense of intimacy and trust. People are engaged. And the facilitation creates an intimate and engaging atmosphere; much like a fireside chat.”

He has also been struck with the diversity in The Great Conversation. One of his past senior managers, Pam Dost, became a speaker and participant with her team and was able to engage and help other women as well.  “There is a diverse group of people from diverse backgrounds interspersed with national and international attendees”, said Dave. “So many different approaches from simple to elegant in design. And you never know who you will sit next to that might inspire an initiative in your own company.”

Dave’s team considers this a training ground for future leaders as well. “They will hear from executives other than myself”, said Dave. “CSOs like Mike Howard, Mike Mason, Steve Harrold and Randy Harrison. How they articulate their strategy will be different. Their approaches to business continuity, insider threat, physical security and technology can help prepare them for leading the next innovations at Boeing.”

Afterwards, the Boeing team will return, compile their notes and make presentations on their learnings to other leaders. “We have great conversations after the main forum as well.”

Another surprise finding in The Great Conversation was how the technology vendors have been prepared to listen intently to the problem statements from the senior executives in the room. “The Great Conversation team has prepared them to act agnostically and provide us insights into how technology can be applied”, said Dave. “And we get to share the good and bad experiences transparently. I don’t want to be on someone else’s learning curve. I need proven returns. This creates the incentive for me to knock on their door instead of the other way around.”

In March 2018, Dave will be sending another team of emerging leaders in risk, resilience and security, for what promises to be another great conversation. “The Great Conversation always seems to deliver insights into the next innovations in our industry and connect us to the people making it happen.”