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I always wanted to be a naval aviator. But when I was seriously injured after ejecting from my plane, I had to dream up a new way to serve my country.
I now run our Dark Labs, an elite group of security researchers, penetration testers, reverse engineers, network analysts, and data scientists, dedicated to halting cyberattacks. While leading this team of professional hackers wasn’t my first career choice, I’m still protecting the nation’s most important information.
And teaching the next generation how to do it, too.
As executive director of Booz Allen’s Dark Labs, Chad Gray leads an elite team of cybersecurity experts who protect vulnerable systems by deploying the same tech craft that malicious hackers use to exploit them. By innovating new enterprise IT security solutions such as advanced threat hunting, Chad and his team are keeping the firm at the vanguard of cyber threat intelligence.
Chad also leads the firm’s Cyber Futures efforts, providing clients the ability to accelerate their cybersecurity maturity within operational technology (OT) environments, including connected products, manufacturing, energy, weapons, and space platforms. Leveraging 20 years of experience delivering mission-critical solutions within the intelligence community, Chad is pushing secure OT to move beyond reactive assessments and monitoring, and toward pro-active autonomous resiliency.
His key areas of expertise include:
Recognized as a thought leader in cyber, Chad’s commentary has been has been featured in outlets such as The Cipher Brief and the "Cyber Innovate with Experts" Podcast.
He served as in information warfare officer in the U.S. Navy prior to joining Booz Allen, retiring from the U.S. Naval Reserve as a lieutenant commander in 2014. Once an Eagle Scout, he now volunteers with Cub Scout Pack 111 in Crofton, Maryland.
Chad holds a B.S. in general science from the United States Naval Academy, and a Global Information Assurance Certification in security leadership. He is also a certified flight instructor and rated as an airline transport pilot.
Profile updated March 2017
Why are you passionate about the work you do at Booz Allen? It has an impact on the world that we live in. We’re surrounded by technology and our team is playing an important part in helping to secure that technology. It also has critical national defense implications, so there’s definitely a patriotic element in supporting things that make our country safer.
Why do you have the career you have? I graduated from the Naval Academy, and went to training to become a naval aviator. After my accident, I converted to become a Navy cryptologist, or information warfare officer, as it is now called. I got into doing cyber work in the intelligence community and fell in love with it.
What are some highlights of your career? Most of the work I did with the intelligence community on a day-to-day basis, I can’t talk about. But I had the opportunity to watch as the successes of those things played out in the news. When I joined a team of analysts here at the firm, there were about 30 or 40 people on the contract. I went from being a network analyst on a team of eight people, to moving up in technical leadership, becoming technical director of that contract. Then over the last 10 years growing that team to more than 600 people. I’ve seen amazing growth of the team, the growth of our people in their careers, and gaining complete trust from the client. Part of that support goes directly to military warfighters who operate overseas, and at times, we’ve helped directly in saving their lives. Those are big motivators.
What about inside the firm? I founded our Cyber Boot Camp. More than 200 people graduated from that program and many of them have gone on to become senior technical leaders. I’m really proud of that. Then establishing Dark Labs, taking some of the cyber talent we have and bringing it into the commercial space. The staff of Dark Labs were professional exploiters working for U.S. government clients who are now defending commercial clients’ networks. It’s almost like a startup within a large company.
What is one thing you always have with you? I have a watch that I always wear. It commemorates my ejection [from my Navy plane]. It’s a Bremont Martin-Baker series watch, an MB-I, with a red barrel on the side. The only way to get it is to survive an ejection. It’s my constant reminder of how life is so precious. I celebrate that day every year—St. Patrick ’s Day—thanking the people around me that have helped me move past it, and grow a new successful career, still supporting our nation and protecting our liberty, freedom, and security.