On personal growth and continuous learning with Schuyler Moore, Director of Science & Technology for the Defense Innovation Board at the Department of DefenseFeatured
I spoke with @SchuylerMoore, Director of Science & Technology for the Defense Innovation Board at the Department of Defense. Schuyler’s current portfolio spans across artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, 5G, and biotechnology. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, a non-profit that supports leadership development for young men and women working in foreign policy, and co-leads the Defense & Industry division of the Truman National Security Project. Schuyler previously worked in aerospace & defense consulting providing strategic guidance to Fortune 500 companies, and has also previously provided her expertise to tech CEOs, the World Bank, the United Nations, and multiple prominent think tanks in Washington, DC.Schuyler discovered her passion for national security while working at a girl’s boarding school in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2013. Her time working with the students and interacting with the local Afghan community demonstrated the challenges that a country can face when national security is compromised - without it, basic financial, social, and other institutions rapidly fell apart. Schuyler continued to tutor Afghan students remotely for the next five years and returned to Afghanistan in 2014 to conduct research on border security, and these experiences further demonstrated the importance of national security to enable gender equality, socio-economic stability, and other critical elements to national prosperity and success.Outside of her work, Schuyler maintains a diverse range of interests and hobbies. She is a member of a competitive dance team in DC that has won multiple competitions up and down the East Coast, and she also spends her weekends riding (or repairing) her Ducati motorcycle. Schuyler is passionate about her work in national security and believes that she can be better at her job by having other interests and creative outlets that keep her fresh when she returns to her day job. Schuyler shared her advice for personal growth, finding mentorship, continuous learning, and leadership. Seek out activities that stretch your comfort zone. Schuyler has made a number of bold choices across her career, whether taking a year off school to work overseas, or teaching at a school in Afghanistan at the age of 20, or traveling to Singapore on a few weeks’ notice to brief the World Bank. Before each decision, Schuyler felt uncertain of how things might unfold, but each circumstance stretched her capabilities and showed new possibilities that she previously had not seen. If an opportunity is in line with her goals, Schuyler always tries to take it, even if she might feel unprepared in the moment. She believes that this method helps her expand her abilities and identify areas that need some work.Build a diverse set of mentors. Schuyler has sought out mentors that span across private sector and government, small organizations and Fortune 500 companies, with a broad range of personal and professional backgrounds. Schuyler believes that this diversity will help her face any challenges that come up in her personal or professional life, as there is more likely that one or more of them has relevant experience to share. Schuyler says that diversity in mentorship is as critical as it is in the workplace if you are seeking a more thoughtful and comprehensive approach to your career.Shift focus to relieve stress. When Schuyler is feeling stressed in one part of her life, instead of giving up or giving in, she transfers her attention and energy to productive pursuits in a different part of her life, whether another project at work, her board work outside of work, her dance team, or motorcycle riding. In this way, she can come back more energized to her original project with a fresh mind while having been productive in the meanwhile. Set aside meaningful time to digest new information. Working in a fast paced, information dependent environment, Schuyler must constantly keep up with the news. She narrows down her sources to a few that she trusts in her areas of focus, and she sets Google Alerts for specific topics that are top of mind. Then, every morning, she wakes up 30-60 minutes before she needs to in order to be able to have time to flip through the news and dive deeper on particularly interesting and relevant threads. Schuyler has found that skimming through headlines throughout the day is not enough to absorb information - taking the time to follow the thread through multiple readings will create a stronger baseline of knowledge for your work.Watch your leaders closely and take notes (literally). Schuyler prepared herself for leadership roles by thinking about her past and current leadership and writing down qualities that she had found effective or ineffective. In times of crisis, Schuyler has found it helpful to reflect on specific leadership examples that she has witnessed when deciding her own actions as a leader, and how they might help the team move forward.Keep it positive. Schuyler is a strong believer in the power of positive reinforcement, both for her team and for herself. Wherever possible, Schuyler tries to give teammates credit and praise them for their good work, and she tries to move her team with a positive attitude towards a solution if challenges arise. Similarly, Schuyler tries not to be too hard on herself when she hits roadblocks or makes mistakes. She believes that challenges will exist regardless of your attitude, so you may as well approach them with positive energy.Find your own style. There are numerous different ways to transition to a leadership role, and it all depends on the environment and the person. Consequently, Schuyler recommends reading many different examples on different leaders working in different structures to be able to find or create the style that works best for you (she just finished “The Gatekeepers” by Chris Whipple and strongly recommends it for insight into the role of White House chiefs of staff!). To learn more about Schuyler, visit her LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/schuyler-moore-41945736/ or her personal webpage at https://www.schuylercmoore.com/. Schuyler speaks for herself only. Any views stated here do not represent the view of the Department of Defense or the Defense Innovation Board.