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Senior Advisors

Senior Advisor

David Bills

Until April 2017, David Bills served as Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy at DuPont. Before then, he served in various other executive positions at DuPont since 2001, including Chief Marketing & Sales Officer, President of the Fluoroproducts Business, and Vice-President of the Displays Business. David joined DuPont after a successful 12 year career at McKinsey, where he was ultimately a Partner. He began his career with 3 years at Exxon as a process engineer and operations manager in a Texas refinery. David has served on the Board of Directors at Modine Manufacturing Company since February 2015 and Lydall, Inc. since 2018. He formerly served on the Investment Committee of the Delaware Public Employees’ Retirement System from 2017 – 2018, on the Board of Trustees for the Delaware Art Museum from 2011 – 2015, and as a member of the Advisory Board of the Lerner College of Business at the University of Delaware from 2012 – 2014. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin in 1983 and an MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business in 1989.

Rick Farnell

Senior Advisor

Rick has built a successful career as a technology entrepreneur, executive leader and operator of several global technology companies with US and International experience. Rick operates and excels in fast paced, dynamic and demanding corporate environments possessing leadership skills appropriate for both venture backed and private equity stage businesses. He has a broad business acumen but specializes in growth and go-to-market leadership opportunities. Rick has a track record of successful fundraising, mergers, acquisitions and exits. Most recently, Rick was the President and CEO of Protegrity, and delivered a transformation of the company with double digit revenue growth and a new foundation centered around innovation, integrity, and teamwork earning him the #5 CEO in CyberSecurity for 2021 by the Software Report. Rick was the Co-Founder and President of Think Big Analytics, a big data analytics pioneer acquired by Teradata in 2014. At Teradata, Rick served as Senior Vice President responsible for Teradata’s global consulting and services business made up of over 5,000 consultants working across 75 countries. Rick had P&L responsibility for $680M in revenue. Prior to co-founding Think Big Analytics, Rick spent over 20 years in a variety of global executive management positions in sales, business development, alliances and consulting services for internet visionaries C-bridge Internet Solutions (acquired by Progress Software) and Sun Microsystems (acquired by Oracle).  At C-bridge, a pioneer in the internet era, Rick held executive leadership positions in North America and Europe and helped grow the venture backed start-up to over 900 employees and to a successful IPO in 1999.  At Sun, Rick was responsible for $145M in software revenue sold through global SI and ISV partners.  Rick led Sun’s cloud and open source software go-to-market strategy with Amazon Web Services and was involved in the acquisition and integration of software companies SeeBeyond and MySQL.  Rick is Founder and Managing Partner of Rapid Formation, a strategic consulting and venture capital company working with early stage technology start ups.

Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret.)

Senior Advisor

Jim Stavridis spent over thirty years in the Navy, rising to the rank of 4-star Admiral. Among his many commands were four years as Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, where he oversaw operations in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, the Balkans, and piracy off the coast of Africa. He also commanded US Southern Command in Miami Florida, charged with military operations through Latin America. In the course of his career in the Navy, he served as senior military assistant to the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of Defense. He led the Navy’s premier operational think tank for innovation, Deep Blue, immediately after the 9/11 attacks. In 2016, he was vetted for Vice President by Secretary Hillary Clinton, and subsequently invited to Trump Tower to discuss a cabinet position with President Donald Trump. He won the Battenberg Cup for commanding the top ship in the Atlantic Fleet and the Navy League John Paul Jones Award for Inspirational leadership, along with over fifty US and international medals and decorations. He attended the US Naval Academy at Annapolis and then earned a PhD from The Fletcher School at Tufts, where he later served as the 12th Dean. While studying at Tufts, he won the Gullion prize as outstanding student in his class, as well as academic honors from the National and Naval War Colleges as a distinguished student. He speaks Spanish and French. Jim has published eight books on leadership, Latin America, ship handling, and innovation, as well as hundreds of articles in leading journals. He has won both the Proceedings and USNI Press Author of the Year Awards. Admiral Stavridis currently serves as an Operating Executive at The Carlyle Group, the Chair of the Board of Counselors at McLarty Associates, the Chair of the Board of the US Naval Institute, a monthly columnist for TIME Magazine and Chief International Security Analyst for NBC News.

John Dowdy

Senior Advisor

John Dowdy served as a Senior Partner at McKinsey, where he led the Aerospace & Defense practice globally, responsible for McKinsey’s client service to all aerospace & defense suppliers, Defense Departments and Ministries worldwide. He has 30+ years of experience as a globally recognized expert in aerospace; defense, with an international reputation and personal network across the industry.
John developed broad industry knowledge based on work on commercial and military aircraft, satellites, missiles, defense electronics, helicopters, surface ships and submarines, addressing a range of strategic and operational issues. John has served on the Board of Trustees of the Royal United Services Institute since 2016, where he chairs the Audit & Risk Committee. For many years he led McKinsey’s research on productivity in aerospace & defense,
participating in high level strategic dialogue such as the Aspen Strategy Group. He has had a lifelong focus on productivity, with a more recent focus on the implications of artificial Intelligence and autonomy, new space and e-mobility/eVTOL. John earned a Bachelor of Science degree, with honors, in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) from the University of California, Berkeley and a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) with High Distinction (George F. Baker Scholar) from the Harvard Business School.

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