Orlando, Florida – The 2019 (ISC)2 Security Congress kicked off today with a keynote presentation by Captain “Sully” Sullenberger. Speaking at the ninth annual event where thousands of peers come together to advance their educations, Sullenberger is the embodiment of stoicism and resiliency.
An aviation safety expert, Captain Sullenberger became the public face of the historic landing of his airplane in the Hudson River. The heroic feat demonstrated that aviation is indeed a team sport. What had begun as just another day quickly became an emergency situation for two men who had to urgently work together.
After listening to the cacophony of sound recorded in the cockpit during the intensity of the 208-second-long event, one of the investigators reportedly said, “That man has been training for this his entire life.”
Giving credit to both his parents and his four grandparents, all of whom had attended college, Sully said he believes that his training began long before his own life did. “I received wonderful gifts from my family,” including a lifelong love of reading and learning that has fueled his passion throughout his entire life.
Turning adversity into opportunity is a lesson Sully learned throughout his life. His parents are part of the Greatest Generation, and from them Sully quickly came to understand the reality that with great authority comes great responsibility. They instilled in him a sense of civic duty, not entitlement, and he has come to live his life valuing service above self.
More than anything, Sully’s keynote revealed his integrity and humanity. Evident in every word was his love for all human beings. “People have said to me that it must be because I have daughters that I care about women’s lives. I care about what happens to half the population of this planet not because I have a mother or a wife or daughters, but because I’m human,” Sully said.
In recalling the first five seconds of the life-changing event, Sully said he quite painfully understood the importance of each action. He had to make critically important decisions that mattered not so much for his own life but for the lives of all the passengers. He recalled, “I am literate, and I knew that multi-tasking is a myth.” His ability to focus on doing one task and doing it well is what allowed Sully to descend toward the water with stoicism and save every life.
His keynote message was, “Never stop growing personally and professionally.” As the pace of change becomes more rapid, “most of us cannot get through life with one skillset. We have to know how to innovate, how to change before you are forced to,” Sully said.