What Dave Komendat, Boeing CSO and ISC West Keynote Speaker, Says Was His Hardest Career Challenge

Dave Komendat headshot

The challenge he faced was even more difficult than what he encountered after Japan’s Fukushima earthquake of 2011.

ISC West 2021 is coming up July 19-21 in Las Vegas, and the Security Industry Association (SIA) and ISC West have revealed full conference details for the SIA Education@ISC West program, including 65+ sessions on the most current business trends, technologies and industry developments and this year’s Keynote Series, featuring presentations from top luminaries.

SIA is looking forward to the Day 1 keynote session – Security Returns: Creating a Lasting, Data-Driven Value Proposition for Your Organization – featuring remarks from Dave Komendat, vice president and chief security officer for The Boeing Company. Appointed in 2008, Komendat is responsible for Boeing’s global security and fire protection policy and procedures, site security, executive protection, supply chain and aviation security, structural and aircraft fire protection, government and proprietary information security, classified cybersecurity, strategic intelligence, international security, business continuity and disaster preparedness, the Global Security Operations Center and security background investigations. He is also the lead Boeing interface for both national and international security policy engagement with numerous government and industry advisory groups. Komendat graduated from California State University at Long Beach with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice specializing in industrial security and is a graduate of the Kellogg School of Management’s executive development program at Northwestern University.

In this Q&A, SIA spoke with Komendat about his security career, giving back, protecting lives around the world and creating a strong value proposition, as well as key challenges and considerations as the industry looks to return to work.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your security career?

Dave Komendat: If you do this job for any period of time, selecting “one challenge” becomes quite difficult. I’ve had the honor of being the chief security officer for Boeing since 2008, so my list of challenging events is fairly long. I will say that co-leading Boeing’s COVID-19 response has been by far the longest and most challenging situation I have dealt with. There were several times throughout the pandemic where I had to do a personal “gut-check” and recalibrate my thought process and outlook to prepare for the long-game. The next longest, sustained challenge I have led was our internal response to the Japan earthquake and subsequent nuclear event at Fukushima Daiichi in 2011, where we were engaged for roughly eight weeks.

You’ve held board leadership roles in a number of nonprofits that work to protect people around the world; could you tell us a bit about your work with these organizations and what inspired you to get involved?

DK: I currently serve on three nonprofit boards. I am the current board of director’s president for Hostage U.S., which was formed five years ago as a U.S. extension of “Hostage UK” (now Hostage International). The mission of Hostage U.S. is to provide care to the families of U.S. hostages or U.S. persons being illegally detained anywhere in the world. We are completely apolitical and focus only on the needs of hostage families and then of the returning hostage(s). I was introduced to the organization and their mission via a security colleague who was trying to find someone who could assist a local hostage family. We volunteered, and the rest is history. It’s such a humbling experience and one of the most meaningful things I have done professionally.

I also serve on the board of directors for the International Security Foundation (ISF), which supports the needs of the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC). The OSAC is comprised of thousands of U.S. companies, NGOs, faith-based organizations and Academia. OSAC’s mission is to keep U.S. citizens safe around the world, and the ISF helps financially support OSAC events and gatherings around the world that bring people together to share ideas and best practices. I had the honor of attending a special OSAC meeting in Afghanistan about 10 years ago. These events are critical in helping U.S. entities keep their people safe.

Finally, I’m on the board of directors for the Domestic Security Partnership, which supports the Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC), which is comprised of nearly 600 U.S. companies along with the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The goal of DSAC is to foster a closer, trusted relationship between the public and private sectors in order to reduce threats to U.S. businesses. I was the former private sector co-chair for DSAC and had the honor of being recognized by FBI Director Chris Wray in 2018. Each of these organizations all focus on keeping people safe and help to protect innocent lives, which deeply resonates with me.

What are some key things an organization should consider to create and demonstrate a strong, lasting value proposition?

DK: It is critical that organizations can consistently show their “value proposition.” Security can easily be viewed as a cost center unless time is taken to showcase the value of risks mitigated or prevented by the investments being made. Being able to show a positive return on investment for each of the major service offerings or cost centers within any organization is critical. Many times, security organizations do not effectively “tell their story.” As a result, during difficult times, security organizations or investments in security technologies or enhancements can be dramatically reduced or eliminated altogether. It is a business imperative, whether you are a security manager, supplier or integrator, to be able to showcase the value you bring with your service in an easy-to-understand manner.

What are some key challenges the industry is facing as we move toward a “Return to Security”?

DK: The new normal we are facing brings both great opportunity and challenges. The effects of the pandemic will be with us for a long time and have changed the way many people will work going forward. The “workplace” will likely be more virtual now than it has ever been, and that new norm creates significant information protection challenges. For those returning to the workplace, many will experience anxiety and stress which can/will manifest itself at times into inappropriate workplace behavior that could create risk. I have heard that many other organizations have had their security budgets significantly cut and staffing reduced. For those companies, it may be quite some time before security resources catch back up with the rest of the enterprise. In the meantime, the funding/staffing gap creates potential risk for those organizations as we transition into the “new normal”.

The ISC West Day 1 Keynote featuring Dave Komendat will take place Monday, July 19, at 11:15 a.m., on the ISC West Keynote Stage at the Sands Expo Center. Explore the full SIA Education@ISC West conference program and register to attend here

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts and/or profiles are those of the authors or sources and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Security Industry Association (SIA).