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The Defence Series - An Interview with Ali Hawks

Posted on March 2023 By Danny Watts

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iO Associates are delighted to bring you the latest interview in our group, ‘The Defence Series’.

In celebration of International Woman’s Day, we were joined by Ali Hawks, CEO at BMNT/Woman of the Year - Innovation and Creativity; Women in Defence Awards 2022, for this exclusive interview.

In this interview, iO’s Director Danny Watts and Ali covered:

- What are the biggest roadblocks and what are the ways you’ve helped overcome them?

- Why do we need security/defence innovation at all?

- What’s the difference between innovation theatre and what you and BMNT strive to do every day to make the world a better, safer place?

- What did you choose to work in the Defence space versus all the other things you could have done?

- Advice and practices do you recommend for women interested in the defence arena?

- What do you think is the biggest challenge facing right now?

We hear a lot about how Defence should be more like private sector tech firms in terms of speed and innovation – Google, Netflix, Amazon, etc are often cited as exemplars. How can Defence realistically adopted Silicon Valley methodologies whilst adhering to the legal and ethical policies they have to operate within?

You can watch the full recording here:

About Alison:

Dr Hawks is one of the leading voices in public sector innovation and the driving force behind BMNT's global business efforts.  She is the co-founder and CEO of BMNT, Ltd and the Chair of the Board of Trustees for The Common Mission Project.  Ali is a researcher-turned-entrepreneur, and was recently appointed to BMNT Inc's Board of Directors as well as being named the winner for Innovation and Creativity at the Women in Defence Awards 2022. 

In addition to her work at BMNT and Common Mission Project, Ali teaches mission-driven entrepreneurship at King's College London, Department of War Studies and at Imperial College London in their Institute of Security Science and Technology. She previously served as Director of Research at the Section 809 Panel, a U.S. Congressionally mandated commission tasked with streamlining and codifying defence acquisition. 

She was also an Assistant Professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and the Defence Studies Department at King's College London where she taught strategy, policy and operations in professional military education. Dr Hawk's doctoral thesis was in military sociology. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of War Studies at King's College London, her MA in Strategic Studies from the University of Leeds, and she holds a BA in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego and has multiple peer reviewed publications on her research. 

This interview provides a platform to showcase the achievements and insights of an accomplished female leader in the defence industry, highlighting the importance of gender diversity and inclusion in this traditionally male-dominated sector. iO Associates recognise the need to support and elevate women's voices in the workforce, and this interview is a testament to their commitment towards gender equality

As part of The Defence Series, we are looking to bring together individuals from all walks of life – whether previous service history, working within the MoD, working for a prime or someone that’s just interested in finding out more. This makes this month’s episode more important than ever, as we celebrate women from all over the globe from all walks of life.

We will be sharing a range of insights and running events on a regular basis with topics from; ‘The Battlefield to the Scrum-board’, ‘Innovation in Defence’, “Women in Defence’ and ‘The Future of SME’s’.

Sign up to our LinkedIn Group to find out more and stay up to date with our latest events and insights:

Or get in touch with Danny -