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I like working on technology projects, and projects that support the heart of a client’s mission.
Cyber and digital provide me with technical challenges that
I’ve always had a fascination with other cultures, too—seeing them, working in them, living in them. I moved around a lot as a
But what really makes me excited to come to work in the morning is the people. The team I have here in Booz Allen’s Singapore office is one of the brightest, most motivated I’ve had the pleasure of working with.
Jon Watada leads Booz Allen’s business in the Asia Pacific region, providing cybersecurity, digital transformation, and critical support services to the public and private sector. His primary expertise lies in building multidisciplinary teams to support civil, defense, and commercial clients across the globe.
Jon has more than 25 years of business leadership experience in project portfolio management, profit-and-loss (P&L) reporting, and top- and bottom-line growth. A highly strategic thinker and collaborative leader, he finds technically creative solutions to complex client problems, primarily in the areas of cybersecurity, digital transformation, and mission support.
For full-spectrum cyber operations, Jon brings executive leadership through strategy formulation, capability development, cyber policies, insider-threat mitigation, and technology roadmaps. For P&L divisions, Jon possesses the ability to lead through qualified project managers and executives, and he creates, grows, and improves high-performing technical and project leadership teams.
Prior to joining Booz Allen, Jon spent 29 years supporting mission-critical clients at Lockheed Martin. He has supported client engagements in more than 40 different countries.
He has a B.S. in computer science from James Madison University.
What are a couple of the greatest challenges facing the cybersecurity industry today? First, finding staff. With the growing threat landscape, demand for cybersecurity is continually increasing. Identifying creative ways to find qualified engineers will be a continuing problem.
Second, cybersecurity is growing more expansive. Companies are starting to see that their operational delivery side easily could be affected by threats to IT.
If you’re an electric company, for example, your IT systems help monitor and control your systems for generating and delivering power. The more dependent you are on the IT side of that, the greater the risk to your ability to deliver electricity.
We’re seeing that across more and more industries. Boards and CEOs are starting to realize that they need to pay more attention to the cybersecurity risk facing their companies.
What are some of the biggest opportunities in cybersecurity? Many companies in the Asia-Pacific region haven’t fully understood the seriousness of the threat until recently. Now they’re seeing a lot of technologies out there, and a lot people offering services, and they don’t know where to start.
Asia is in many ways 10 years behind the U.S in terms of cybersecurity awareness, and of understanding how private industry and government can share cybersecurity responsibilities.
Booz Allen has been doing this for our U.S. clients for quite some time. We have a tremendous breadth and depth of experience and knowledge to bring to our clients out here.
When one large financial institution in Hong Kong brought us on to conduct a cyber assessment, we put out a call within the firm to find someone who could bring the necessary certifications and experience. In just a few days we’d identified a very talented individual who was willing to fly out and join the team.
That really shows the power of our people.
What are your key tips for building a great team? First, look at people as people. Have they exhibited that they align with the firm’s purpose and values? Second, look at diversity—of individuals, skill sets, and years of experience. Third, foster an ongoing culture of collaboration, and help build tight bonds between your team members.
How do you keep your team motivated? Identifying the interesting opportunities. Not just placing people on projects where they’re well qualified, but identifying areas where people need to grow and placing them on projects where you know they’ll succeed, but that will also give them a chance to expand their skillset.
That’s what keeps people engaged and focused—the variety of work and the people that they work with.
What’s been your life’s biggest challenge? Both my wife and I often travel overseas for work. It’s been exciting and a lot of fun, but it can also be a challenge to stay in communication, to maintain work-life balance, and to make sure that there’s always one of us home to take care of the kids.
What’s something not many people know about you? I enjoy working with my hands. When my wife and I got married we bought an old Victorian. As time allows, I’ll gut a room and completely redo it—put in new wiring, lighting, everything. It’s a great stress reliever to come home and build something month-by-month.
What was your very first job? Mowing lawns. I took a lawnmower down the street and knocked at the houses with the longest grass. After that I lifeguarded and taught swim lessons. I really enjoyed watching the kids progress as they actually learned how to swim well.
What’s been your biggest accomplishment so far? Raising our kids. I’ve got three—a daughter who just graduated from my alma mater, one who just started college, and a son who will spend his senior year of high school here in Singapore.
What’s the best book you’ve ever read? I can’t say I have a best, but I generally like historical novels, especially those that give me insight into the history of a place where I’m going to live. I read James Michener’s novel, Hawaii before we moved out there, and it starts with the formation of the volcanoes.