In January, Dr. Charles Stuppard, who retired as Captain after 30 years in the U.S. Navy, joined Canopy Defense as General Manager. In his new role, Charles is responsible for overall strategic direction, product innovation and development, and business development activities of Canopy, whose technologies control electromagnetic signature, resulting in a range of solutions that ensure the efficiency and safety of military personnel and assets.
In this blog, we interviewed Charles to get more insight into his experiences and perspectives.
After graduating from Cornell University with a BS degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Charles’ first job was to design and test airplanes for the US Air Force. There, he met Dominick Capuano, a World War II Navy veteran, who told Charles war stories and then one day said, “You should join the military and pay your dues.” Dominick so inspired Charles that he signed up for six years.
That initial commitment ultimately lasted 30 years. Along the way, Charles earned a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies and a Ph.D. with a thesis based on “The Effect of Advanced Technology on Strategic Leadership.” Charles pursued his Ph.D. because he “wanted to understand the linkage between technology and leadership, basically answering the question, ‘What does it mean to be human in an age of advanced technology?’”
What did you do in in the Navy?
As an engineer, I started with technical projects such as managing and operating the propulsion and electrical systems of a naval vessel. Next, I was put in charge of systems such as telecommunications, weapons, and sensors of an Aegis ship. I served on six warships, including as commanding officer of the USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51), deploying to the Mediterranean as Surface Strike Group Commander. I led the first Joint Army-Navy Base, JEB Little Creek-Fort Story; a special Task Group serving 10,000 sailors in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan during the Global War on Terrorism; and the Naval Forces Division of USMTM in Saudi Arabia. During the entire time, the utmost duty always in my mind was to protect and defend our Constitution.
I also served as a leadership instructor at the Navy Command Leadership School attended by all senior naval officers prior to their commands. I was also the Chief of Staff equivalent to the Commander of Navy Installations Command who is responsible for all shore installations under the control of the U.S. Navy and was in the Pentagon on 9/11 working for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I completed my military career as a Navy Captain at the faculty of the US Naval War College in Newport, RI.
How does your naval career transfer to Canopy?
I bring three skill sets from my naval career.
First, I bring a technical and engineering perspective.
Second, I acquired a strong leadership background in my time with the Navy. I started out as a division officer and advanced to be captain of a ship, which is like being CEO of an organization. Due to my interest in the practice and theory of leadership, I went on to earn a master’s and a Ph.D. to better understand the linkage between technology and leadership. Effectively, exploring the phenomenon of how technology affects us as human beings.
Third, based on my 30-year service record, I understand the military and how it works and how technology is used in the field, at sea, undersea, and out in space. I have worked hard at earning the trust and confidence of those we serve. I can ensure that Canopy Defense delivers only the best possible solutions that will save lives and ensure our personnel return home safe and ready to fight again if that is what is required to continue to protect and defend our Constitution. Our customers know that when I tell them about a Canopy solution, it is true, and I will continue to work with them on innovation and problem-solving.
Actually, there’s a fourth ingredient: My excitement about being part of this team. After my final interview, I was very impressed with our Canopy Defense technologies and the caliber of our people already on the management team, including our cadre of scientists and other executive leaders.
What do you hope to get from working at Canopy?
I get the excitement of being part of a team that is dedicated and believes in what they do. My colleagues and I are here to make a difference in the country and the world and live up to our motto: “Think. Believe. Realize”. Our technology can and will help protect our people in the military, which is extremely important. I compare Bambu Global and Canopy Defense to the early stage versions of a Google, Facebook or Amazon – companies whose approach was totally different from what others were doing. I feel like I am part of something unique and big! I am so delighted to be part of it from the beginning, and I’m proud to be a contributing factor in its growth.
Do you have a motto that you live by?
In the Navy, we are taught to develop a command philosophy, similar to a management or business philosophy. Over time, mine developed into five words which I live by every day. The people I served with, especially onboard Arleigh Burke, are very familiar with those five words. Twelve years after leaving the ship, I met a former crew member who now is a big shot CEO, and she said, “Captain, I still live by your command philosophy.” Another shipmate asked me, when she was given her own command eight years later, if she could use those five words as her own command philosophy. Of course, I gave permission. And when she retired from the Navy, she continues to live and lead by that philosophy and it works.
The five words are: “Be good. Do good work.”
At times, we may only have one shot to show what we’ve got or are made of, to make an impression. So, whatever we work on, say, or do, we must make sure that it is good. We must ensure our work, words and actions reflect who we are, what we believe, our ideas and our core. Disappointment and loss of confidence follow when there is a gap between what we say and what we do. We call it the “Say – Do Gap.” If we cannot dedicate our heart and mind to the principle of “Be good. Do good work”, then we may have to consider doing something else. If we are good and commit to our work, our families, our friends, our principles (not necessarily in that order), the ‘good work’ part, outcomes and benefits will follow. It’s simple and effective. I should clarify that by work, I mean everything we do whether at home, sport, entertainment, and everywhere else, not just work to make a living.
I read somewhere a long time ago and committed to memory that “we somehow leave our mark on everything we touch.” Knowing that, we should therefore endeavor to stamp whatever we touch with a stamp of excellence! That is the motto Canopy Defense endeavors to live by.
 https://digitalcommons.salve.edu/dissertations/AAI3599641/. The impact of new technology on President Abraham Lincoln’s military leadership during the Civil War.