Professor Will Jessett CBE
Will retired last year from the UK Ministry of Defence after 33 years in a wide range of policy, operational, crisis and change management roles. He spent a third of his career overseas (USA, Poland, Cyprus, Namibia) working closely with those governments. He has specialised in strategic defence planning, particularly in the last decade, shaping and leading MOD’s work on the major strategic defence and security reviews in 2010 and 2015, the 2017 National Security Capability Review and overseeing the Modernising Defence Programme which concluded at the end of 2018.
Will has degrees from Leicester University and King’s College London. He joined the MOD in 1985 and his career has combined jobs in Whitehall (as Private Secretary to Bob Ainsworth then Liam Fox, in NATO policy and planning, as MOD’s counter-terrorism director, and lately strategy director); several years working in operational delivery, crisis and financial management roles outside London; with diverse roles overseas, from helping to establish a MOD and develop defence policy for newly-independent Namibia, to being the MOD’s senior civil servant in Washington DC, managing all aspects of the UK-US defence relationship. He was appointed CBE for services to defence in 2007.
Will is now a director at SC Strategy Ltd (a small strategy consultancy) and a senior advisor to Newton Europe. He is a visiting professor at King’s College London, a senior fellow at Exeter University and senior associate fellow at RUSI.