Advancing national security through telecommunications: The story of alumnus Robert Turner

July 29, 2014  |  STUDENTS & ALUMNI

"I knew attending IWP would be a useful experience, and helpful to my career...but it far exceeded my expectations, and proved to be much more interesting and beneficial than I had imagined."
- Robert Turner, Alumnus

Robert TurnerRobert Turner, who now has over 25 years' experience in providing secure telecommunications and networking solutions to the U.S. Government, foreign governments, and multinational organizations, first came to IWP in 1994 during his tenure at Sprint's Government Systems Division. Having earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland (and later an MBA from the University of Maryland University College) as a history major with a government and politics minor, Robert was eager to study the various issues of intelligence policy, process, epistemology, analysis, and history; and learn more about how American political and cultural values affect the role and practice of intelligence in the United States. He comments:  "I grew up as an ‘Air Force brat' and have been interested in military strategy, international affairs and national security since I was very young.  My reasons for attending IWP were two-fold: 1) to further my education in these areas out of personal interest, and 2) to help further my career and better support my client's mission goals and objectives."

When he arrived at the Institute, Robert was profoundly impressed with IWP's distinguished faculty of scholars and former government officials, their extensive backgrounds, and their significant, senior-level of experience in policy-making and other government roles. "The information the instructors and guest lecturers provided, and discussions they facilitated, were incredibly compelling," remembers Robert.  "My studies at IWP gave me tremendous insight into U.S. and international politics, foreign policy and the intelligence community-and provided me with a professional education not available anywhere else," he said. "And my classes gave me a whole new perspective on matters of statecraft, national security, diplomatic and political warfare - and a better understanding of foreign cultures and the practices of foreign powers."

Robert found that he could directly apply the knowledge and insight he obtained through the courses he took at IWP: "Intelligence and Politics," "Counterintelligence in a Democratic Society," and "American Intelligence and Protective Security: An Advanced Seminar" to his work.  "A lot of times you don't see academics and work tied together," says Robert.  "At IWP, there were practical applications to what I was learning... I was able to relate more effectively to my clients and approach them with a greater historical perspective and deeper understanding of their respective roles, operational challenges and requirements. My studies at IWP enabled me to become more of a ‘mission partner' and ‘trusted adviser' to my customers-and ultimately, better support their mission goals and objectives through the secure networking solutions I delivered."

"The classes I took at IWP enabled me to better appreciate the challenges faced by U.S. intelligence agencies, and inspired me to become active in supporting the government as a representative from the private sector," says Robert.  His interests led him to seek out and attend numerous international security and telecommunications conferences and symposiums (where on one particular trip to the UK he met his future wife). Robert's studies at IWP encouraged him subsequently to volunteer and serve as an industry advisor to the public sector in various capacities on matters of national security and telecommunications throughout his career.  

"I knew attending IWP would be a useful experience, and helpful to my career...but it far exceeded my expectations, and proved to be much more interesting and beneficial than I had imagined," said Robert.

Robert's work has taken him on extensive travel throughout the world, including Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and Asia, meeting with clients and negotiating contracts with governments and corporations. Over his career, he has held a number of senior business development positions in the telecommunications industry with global managed network service providers, satellite operators and equipment manufacturers  including: ConcealFab Corporation, MTN Government Services, Spacenet Integrated Government Solutions, Comtech EF Data, SES/New Skies Satellites, Equant (now Orange Business Services), Global One, and Sprint.

Currently taking a break from his long career to spend more time with his family and explore new opportunities, Robert is now doing consulting work and supporting his wife's efforts to launch a GPS tracking business. He is also a long-time student of martial arts. As an active member of his community, Robert performs volunteer charity work for the Special Olympics, Montgomery Country, Maryland. He lives in Bethesda, MD with his wife and son.