The Impact of Service
Weis left the corporate world to serve as senior adviser to the Department of Defense CIO in 2018. He had never served in the military, but his father had been in the Navy, and it was something that always appealed to him. “It was a chance to serve my country and try to do some good,” he explains. Before joining the Defense Department, Weis had worked in the private sector as senior vice president and CIO at Axalta Coating Systems, where he led the company’s move to a cloud-based infrastructure. He was also CIO for Sensata Technologies and held other technology and senior management positions at Tyco International and Siemens Corporation.
Earlier in his career, Weis was drawn to the Villanova Executive MBA program for its systems thinking approach and holistic, macro view of the world.
“The Villanova Program solidified for me an understanding of how everything is related, and things don't exist in a vacuum,” said Weis.
He credits the EMBA for paying dividends years later. “It almost seems counterintuitive, but somehow as I get further away from the actual degree, the degree itself has become more important because it’s opened doors that I don’t think would have been available without it.”
Weis has remained connected to the University over the years, serving as a member of the Graduate Business Advisory Council and a guest speaker for the Center for Business Analytics.
The biggest challenge Weis has faced in his roles with the Navy and DoD is modernizing 20-year-old technology architecture. “We are in a struggle every day with cyber attacks,” explains Weis. “It is imperative that our infrastructure and technology are where they need to be to face these threats.” The COVID-19 pandemic has supercharged efforts to modernize.
Almost overnight, Weis oversaw the process of transitioning the population of teleworking employees from 12,000 to 200,000. Within the past year, Weis had led efforts to move the Navy to a cloud-based infrastructure, developing 400,000 suites of Office 365, shutting down servers, and consolidating networks into a single enterprise network.
- Weis keeps a painting of the USS Enterprise (CSN-65)-the Navy’s first nuclear aircraft carrier- in his office as a reminder of his father, who served on the ship from 1967-1972. “Dad is still my biggest fan and one of the inspirations for me coming to the Department of Navy, and the painting reminds me of that.”
Originally published in the Winter 2021 Issue of Villanova Business magazine.
Aaron Weis ‘07 EMBA
“It is humbling and inspiring to work with the members of the military. The challenges are vast, but I’ll probably never do anything more impactful in my career, and it’s an honor to serve my country in this way,”