Claire Willette, founder and principal of Windrose International and a former senior management executive in the US Department of Defense for 18 years, has taken on the role of CEO of AIDN's largest chapter.
Willette brings with her experience in both the American and Australian defence sectors. She arrived in Australia in 2013 as the US Office of the Secretary of Defense Policy (OSD(P)) exchange officer to the Australian Department of Defence, during which time she advised Defence and private sector peak bodies on frameworks to address challenges impacting Australia’s small and medium enterprise community in the pursuit of diversification and growth into the domestic and export defence arena.
Willette was embedded as director of strengthening export controls in the Strategic Policy Division of the Office of the Secretary and the Chief of Defence Group, where she was responsible for launching interagency public-private advocacy to support the implementation of the Defence Trade Controls Act of 2015, Australia’s introduction of controls on the export of intangible technology and data.
During her distinguished career in Washington, DC, Willette served in senior roles within OSD(P), supporting security co-operation and bilateral and multilateral defence programs through the Defense Technology Security Administration, the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Intelligence Community. Much of this work centered on security co-operation, foreign military sales, strategic trade controls and industry policy, with a focus on strategic governance, policy, planning, risk management, performance program management and stakeholder engagement and facilitation.
Since making the decision to stay in Australia, she has spent the past two years working as a consultant within defence industry, running her own business providing executive-level business development and strategic advisory services to defence SMEs and primes. Willette is an associate of, and sat on the board for, the Australian Risk Policy Institute; a senior expert adviser to the International Standards Committee in the areas of risk, resilience and business continuity; and she also serves as a non-executive director on the board of Praemium, an ASX-listed company.
The AIDN Victoria executive committee said it is confident the combination of Willette’s experience and strong national networks makes her well placed to develop and implement a robust strategic vision supporting the growth of opportunities for Victoria’s SMEs.
"Her collaborative approach in relationship building with states, government, the academic sector and private industry, coupled with her considerable experience, will provide Victorian SMEs with a deep understanding of defence industry at local and international levels, as well as an acute understanding of the inner-workings of both federal and state governments," the executive committee said in a statement.
Established in 1995, AIDN represents the interests of Australian SMEs in the defence and security industry through advocacy, representation and member services. AIDN is made up of state and territory chapters with a combined membership of approximately 800 principally SME companies.