For our very first father/son interview, Nomad Futurist welcomes Tony Grayson, a critical infrastructure leader and former Submarine Commander and his son Aiden Grayson, an IT entrepreneur and consultant. Together they offer some unique perspectives on a range of subjects including the Navy, technology, and entrepreneurship.
The Graysons comes from a military family. Tony Grayson’s grandfather was a WWII pilot who was shot down, spent a month on a raft in the Pacific and washed up on an island!
“That really instilled in me ‘the country before self’ kind of thing.”
Tony had hoped to join the Air Force but due to poor vision, ended up in the Navy where he ultimately became a submarine commander.
He talks about the special experience of working with a crew:
“…. that team, you are all running together and you really all have each other's backs. It's like nothing, no culture I’ve ever experienced before…alone and unafraid and out there and doing missions…”
After twenty years, Tony Grayson’s naval career culminated with the prestigious VADM James Bond Stockdale Award. He decided to leave the Navy in order to spend more time with his family.
Facebook reached out to him and offered him the opportunity to grow into his role there as he acclimated to civilian life.
He found that there were significant similarities between understanding and running the various systems in a submarine and being involved in critical infrastructure.
“A submarine actually has 12 to 13 megawatts of IT load. We have a substrate; we have an overlay… That's very similar to what a platform operates at. I understood how the cloud works, the software stack and the physical infrastructure.”
After Facebook, Grayson moved on to AWS and Oracle, picking up on networking, data center infrastructure and cloud strategy. He then moved over to Compass-Quantum to focus on the future of edge and edge physical infrastructure.
Aiden Grayson talks about the experience of being a Navy brat.
“My dad was away for sometimes eight months at a time and that left me as the designated tech guy…every family has one! I ended up fixing the modem…or calling Comcast or making sure that everything was set up correctly.”
From there it was natural for him to pursue computer science in high school and college. While still in college, Aiden also launched his first startup, Short Cubby, a beached-based locker system.
Aiden talks about loving the creative aspect of business and entrepreneurship, particularly the ability to approach things in a new or unique way.
He also talks about how his business ventures have helped him develop confidence:
“You have to pitch a lot with startups. You have to do that to get funding. I found that confidence within myself and that made me a whole lot more excited to enter the real world.”
Tony remains consistently supportive of his son’s efforts, including his failures.
“There's something to be said about working in a small company and trying to build a business that you can look back on.”
Aiden speaks about working with a mentor to try to develop his next venture opportunity even as he begins his work consulting in cybersecurity for Ernst & Young.
‘The world’s an ever-changing place. I thank my family and especially my dad for exposing me to that change early so I can be open to trying something new.”
In terms of advice, father and son agree that:
“You’ve got to have grit!”
Tony Grayson, General Manager of Quantum Compass, is a seasoned executive with over 25 years of technology and leadership experience and a deep understanding of the cloud, edge, networking, commercial power, sustainability, and the data center industry. His experience includes global strategy, capacity, financial management, program/project/product management, engineering, software, telecommunications, and operations. Grayson has held senior critical infrastructure leadership positions at Facebook, AWS, and Oracle. Grayson is a retired naval officer who successfully commanded a multi-billion-dollar nuclear submarine in environmental extremes ranging from the Arctic Ocean to the Arabian Gulf. Recipient of the distinguished VADM James Bond Stockdale Award for excellence in leadership, presented annually to two Commanding Officers who exhibit high morals and thoughtfulness in leadership.
Aiden Grayson has a background in entrepreneurship, IT/networking, and consulting. He is a 2022 graduate of the Fowler School of Business at San Diego State University where he focused on Computer Science and Entrepreneurship. He has accepted a position as a cybersecurity consultant for Ernst & Young.