TheBridge profile: Matthew Ballard
Name: Matthew Ballard
Current city: Washington, D.C.
Current job: Director, Public Affairs & Crisis at Burson Cohn & Wolfe
Past job: Deputy Director of Communications, U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security; Senior Associate at Glen Echo Group; Staff Assistant, The White House
Q. Favorite spot for a coffee meeting? Swing’s Coffee Roasters by The White House has been a go-to for more than a decade.
Q. Describe how a skill you learned in a previous job helped you in your current job. Learn from the experts. As a communicator, I was always in the offices of our cybersecurity experts at the Homeland Security Committee to learn as much as I could about the industry and the policies that regulate the industry. Even years later, these individuals continue to be the people I lean on to help me get smart on an issue or technology.
Q. Job advice in three words? Always be kind.
Q. How are you (or your company, org, nonprofit) currently bridging the gap between politics and tech / innovation and regulation? Cybersecurity is an issue and technology that goes beyond the tech industry and communicating the importance of security in technology is a priority. At BCW, we’re constantly working with clients to better understand the political and regulatory environment and vice versa.
Q. What can innovators teach regulators? Silicon Valley could help DC better understand that trial and error is a good way to get the best technology to companies and consumers. We shouldn’t be afraid of failure, because eventually we will get it right or the idea/technology will cease to exist.
Q. What can regulators teach innovators? Patience. There is a reason that it can take years to make policy changes and that regulation is often reactive instead of proactive.
Q. Looking back, what advice would you give yourself in the beginning of your career? I would have told my younger self to enjoy the moments and take pictures. I can’t count how many times I was able to walk across the Capitol Rotunda or into the West Wing, but I was so focused on my work that I didn’t take the time to take it all in or document it.
Q. Best advice you’ve received? Always be kind. My former boss had that as our firm’s motto and Maura was, and is, right. It’s so much easier to do business and live if can remember to be kind.
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