President, McChrystal Group
Former Navy SEAL Officer
Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018 • 12:15 PM–2:00 PM
Chris Fussell is a former Navy SEAL Officer and President at McChrystal Group, a premier leadership and management consulting firm founded by General Stanley McChrystal. Fussell leads the company’s Leadership Institute, bringing his background in Special Operations, expertise in cross-functional collaboration, and knowledge sharing experience within large, dispersed organizations.
Fussell was commissioned as a Naval Officer in 1997, and spent the next 15 years on U.S. Navy SEAL teams, leading SEAL elements in combat zones around the globe. From war torn Kosovo and counter-terrorism operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to highly specialized efforts in the troubled areas of the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa, Fussell experienced the modern evolution of the U.S. military’s Special Operations community from a siloed bureaucracy struggling to keep up in a turbulent environment into an agile and effective network for counter-terrorism.
In his career as a Navy SEAL, Fussell served first on SEAL Teams Two and Eight, then in the Naval Special Warfare Development Group. During his time on the SEAL teams, he conducted and planned hundreds of operations against high value targets all around the world. He was then selected to serve as Aide-de-Camp to then-Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal during General McChrystal’s final year commanding the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), where they served a year together in Iraq. As McChrystal’s right-hand man, Fussell was an integral part of team that transformed the Special Operations community into a successful, agile network. He was at the center of the communication and leadership systems that involved thousands of participants sharing information and experiences in real-time, globally.
After returning from Iraq, Fussell sought to explore the academic underpinning and theory behind the shift he had witnessed in warfare. He went on to study Irregular Warfare from the Naval Postgraduate School, earning a master’s degree and receiving the Pat Tillman Award for highest peer-rated Special Operations Officer in the program. His thesis work expanded upon his JSOC experience with fusion cells, focusing on the interagency collaboration and intelligence sharing processes that drove effective, cross-silo collaboration during the peak of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2012, Fussell left the Naval Special Warfare Development Group to join McChrystal Group. Fussell is also an author of the New York Times bestseller, Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement in a Complex World, coauthored with General McChrystal, and is the author of the newly released second book, One Mission: How Leaders Build a Team of Teams.
Fussell serves as a Senior Fellow for National Security at New America, is a Fellow and lecturer at Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, and is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also actively involved in several non-profits dedicated to helping veterans and their families and holds a seat on the Board of Directors for the Navy SEAL Foundation.
Chris lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife of 14 years and their two young children.