DIU hires Liz Young McNally to lead commercial ops

In her new role, she will spearhead DIU’s collaboration with the commercial technology sector and investment community.
Liz Young McNally (McKinsey photo)

The Defense Innovation Unit brought on board an Army veteran to serve as the new deputy director for commercial operations, the organization announced Monday.

Prior to joining DIU, Liz Young McNally was co-CEO of Schmidt Futures — a charitable venture founded by Eric Schmidt, the former Google CEO and leader of the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Board, and Wendy Schmidt — that aims to find and connect talented people “to harness their collective skill for public benefit,” according to its website.

Before that, she was a partner at the at the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

During her Army career, the West Point graduate and Rhodes Scholar served as a military police officer and on the staff of Gen. David Petraeus, retiring at the rank of captain after two tours in Iraq, according to DIU and her LinkedIn profile.


In McNally’s new role, she will lead DIU’s collaboration with the commercial tech sector and investment community, including “enhanced portfolio company scaling support and related Department partnerships, as well as the defense innovation on-ramp, talent, and investment capabilities resident in National Security Innovation Network (NSIN) and National Security Innovation Capital (NSIC),” according to a release.

The move comes as the unit is pursuing its new strategy known as “DIU 3.0,” an effort unveiled earlier this year by Director Doug Beck aimed at quickening and ramping up the Pentagon’s adoption of commercial tech to deliver what he called “strategic effect.”

“Liz’s expertise and dual fluency across the commercial and military sectors, combining deep experience with both operating businesses and investors as well as downrange in uniform, and on top of her hands-on experience with inspiring service-and purpose-oriented talent, represent an incredible asset to our mission of delivering real change to the DoD at speed and scale,” Beck said in a statement.

DIU, which is headquartered in Silicon Valley and has offices in other commercial tech hubs around the country, was stood up in 2015 under then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to serve as a bridge between the Pentagon and nontraditional companies working on military-relevant technologies.

Beck, a former Apple executive, has portrayed the current era as a time of transition for the unit as it looks to expand the impact of its work. DIU leadership reports directly to the secretary of defense and the organization has been adding senior executive positions to beef up its ranks.


“I am thrilled to join DIU at such a critical moment, not just to join such an innovative organization, but more importantly to help strengthen our national security innovation ecosystem and our country’s national defense,” McNally said in a statement. “I look forward to working across the commercial sector, the DoD, and our allies to bring critical solutions to our warfighters on a timescale that matters.”

Jon Harper

Written by Jon Harper

Jon Harper is Managing Editor of DefenseScoop, the Scoop News Group’s online publication focused on the Pentagon and its pursuit of new capabilities. He leads an award-winning team of journalists in providing breaking news and in-depth analysis on military technology and the ways in which it is shaping how the Defense Department operates and modernizes. You can also follow him on X (the social media platform formerly known as Twitter) @Jon_Harper_

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