A leader with broad experience and insight, Brigadier General (Retired) Phil Coker served with the US Army for 32 years in the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East as a Cavalry Officer and Analyst. After retirement, he joined a major defense industry corporation as a Director, ultimately managing 500 employees in four factories in the US and UK, building robots, weapons mounts and command and control systems for Department of Defense and Law Enforcement customers. In his ten years in industry he directed the development of more than 40 new products and his teams sold more than $1.5B in hardware to US and international governments.
Phil is a graduate of the United States Military Academy and holds a Master’s Degree in Systems Management from USC. He has extensive experience in government pursuits, new product development, leadership training, executive and leadership coaching, and has been giving keynote addresses for over 20 years.
Almost all of my life has been about service – my father, my son and I were all officers in the Army and my Mother was in the Navy during WWII. Between the four of us, we had an unbroken line of service that ran from 1941 until 2016. Throughout my military career and follow-on time in industry I was almost continuously in leadership positions. As you may expect, servant leadership has been one of my most compelling drives. I love to form strong teams, lead people and to get things done.
My line career in the military was centered on leading reconnaissance units – folks who go out in front of the main forces and find the enemy. It is a challenging and sometimes dangerous mission that is often about outthinking your opponent rather than simply beating them. From my earliest days in the Army I was trained to form a cohesive and focused team, use the environment to best advantage and take an unexpected approach to achieve my organization’s goals. These are the same skills I brought to industry, and the same that rely on today.
When not in operational units in the Army I served as a systems analyst, often supporting strategy development and assessment at the highest levels of the Army and Joint forces. This gave me a great appreciation for the utility and nuance of the strategy development process as well as a chance to serve as an Aide-de-camp to then-Brigadier General Colin Powell.
In industry I led organizations that did production and prototyping, and learned much about the personalities that excel in each of these very different areas and how to motivate and lead them. I also became a strong believer in LEAN processes as well as the whole world of new product development and innovation.
In every job I held in the government and industry, training and developing leaders was one of my top priorities. I strongly believe that it is critical that we have both great managers and great leaders in our companies as we face evolving economic conditions. One of the best ways to ensure a cohesive and effective workforce is develop the first-and second-line leaders in the organization. They are key to both engagement and retention.
In the interest of full disclosure; there is a bit of me that occasionally rebels, and I can at times be a bomb-throwing iconoclast. I am known as an innovator and have had great success in offering a different way to look at both challenge and opportunity. In my private life I am a blacksmith, a hunter, a spelunker, a craft-beer aficionado and a historian and I love spending time with my family. I have had a fairly fun life so far: I’ve lived in 19 states and 8 foreign countries, have been in combat, have flown helicopters and combat jets, cruised on submarines, shot hundreds of tank rounds, helped develop a neutron-based chemical weapon detector, was once onstage with Ozzie Osborne and I count a German Princess and a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as friends.
All of this comes together to allow me to both understand wide points of view and offer support to leaders and organizations that face challenges in their day-to-day business. There are few things as important (and as much fun) as helping passionate and creative people do their absolute best. That is why I enjoy coaching, and why I look forward to helping your team reach a “PointAbove”.