No stranger to leadership under pressure, Lt. Col. Jason Galui moved this fall — in the middle of a pandemic — from the White House Situation Room to the classrooms of SMU Cox School of Business. He brought with him the experience of a 20-year career in the U.S. Army. Among his highest-profile assignments: advising Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump and their respective National Security Advisors on the national security decision-making process and on issues at the nexus of economics and national security.
Although Galui’s career has been marked by numerous difficult decisions, the choice to redirect his career and move to Dallas from Washington, D.C., was not one of them. Seeking opportunities to share his experiences and expertise beyond the uniform, he joined the Cox School in August as an Executive Education Professor of Practice, working with leadership training for corporate partners. In the spring, he will teach leadership to MBAs as an adjunct in the management and organizations department, and he’s working with the strategy department chair on a graduate strategy course. Because of his expertise in leadership development, strategic planning and decision-making, he also oversees Cox’s new Ambassadorial Leadership Training Program.
Just as he taught and mentored two generations of West Point cadets, Galui hopes to teach Executive Education and MBA students at Cox what it means to lead for the future.
From D.C. to Dallas
In addition to having served as a presidential advisor, Lt. Col. Jason Galui’s military career included counseling three National Security Advisors and other top officials, such as General Martin Dempsey, the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He also served as an assistant professor of economics at the United States Military Academy at West Point and deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan.
With that type of resume, most military leaders looking to transition to civilian life might stay on the East Coast, where there is a concentration of academic and private institutions. But in early March 2020, after hosting a group of Cox scholars at the White House and speaking with Cox Associate Dean of Executive Education and Graduate Programs Shane Goodwin, he decided to learn more about North Texas. He was struck by the opportunity for personal and professional growth in the booming region, and he liked the idea of putting down roots and contributing to the community.
“It seemed like there were countless ways for [my wife, Samantha, and I] to contribute to the community,” Galui says. “Because we had been in the Army and moved around a lot, we never felt that we had a community that was home. It was always just temporary. Here’s a place where we could go and be part of the growth and tie into the community.”
In August, they moved to the Dallas area with their 14-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter, and Galui started his new post-military career at SMU Cox as the fall semester got underway.
Galui’s extensive leadership experience makes for the right match at the right time. In the fall, SMU Cox launched the School’s new NextGen Cox Curriculum, built on three pillars: leadership, analytics and experiential learning. Galui is an ideal fit for the leadership and experiential learning pillars, says Goodwin. “We are making sure that our students have much more of an applied or engaged approach to their learning,” he says. “Not only being in government but serving time representing our country in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Jason has definitely seen and experienced a lot of different things that he can certainly bring to bear for us.”
Galui will also play a pivotal part in helping corporate executives navigate the relationship between the business community and the government. C-suite leaders of the country’s largest companies need to be aware of how policy matters will impact their business, from healthcare coverage to environmental regulation. Goodwin believes Galui’s experience at the highest levels of government will make a tremendous impact.
A Life of Service
Born outside of Boston, Galui grew up in a family that helped instill the values he applied throughout his career. “It starts with my parents and the foundation that they built,” he says. “I use that foundation word intentionally because my dad built our house, and our parents built the core values of my brother and me.”
Galui was pointed toward a life of service and global impact when he took a trip to play hockey in the Soviet Union as a 12-year-old in 1989. Although he was far away from home, he was struck by how much he had in common with his hockey opponents, and he wondered why the two countries had nuclear arsenals pointed at each other. He also witnessed long lines of people waiting to get food and butchers who didn’t have the supplies to fill orders. “It sparked in me a desire to show my gratefulness that I was lucky enough to have been born in the United States, and a desire to serve,” he says. “Because we got along so well with the people there, I also wanted to understand why governments do the things that they do. Why are governments ready to destroy one another?”
Those questions led him to choose a life of service and international leadership, where his accomplishments have earned him board positions and numerous accolades. Despite all of his achievements in the halls of government and abroad, Galui sees his work in the classroom as his most significant achievement. “Helping students and helping people recognize what their potential is, and perhaps even recognizing that their potential is even greater than what they thought it was,” he says, “and then helping them set up a path to actualizing or achieving that potential — I think that’s what I love most.”
Learn more about SMU Cox’s NextGen Curriculum.