Kerri Phillips PhD, MSE

Finding Your Confidence (And Not Letting the Brushback Pitch Take You Out of the Game)

Traditional résumés highlight accomplishments but conceal the setbacks that occurred along the way. As a result, the résumés of our role models can often be intimidating, and similar success may seem unattainable, especially at moments of failure. When you consider additional social and cultural complexities, such as those often experienced by women in male-dominated career fields, it can be hard to find your confidence. Kerri Phillips will discuss her path to learning to cultivate confidence, the social phenomena that affected that journey, and strategies to grow your confidence.

In this workshop, attendees:

  • Reviewed their résumés of “failures” through honest conversations about failure.
  • Defined a brushback pitch (and why they should “stay in the game”).
  • Identified strategies to build confidence (for themselves and people on their teams).


Kerri Phillips

Kerri Phillips is the chief scientist of the Air and Missile Defense Sector at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, where she advises on strategic technical direction, science and technology initiatives, and novel applications of technologies to address critical warfighting needs. Prior to her current appointment, Phillips served as program area manager for Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Targeting (ISR&T), focusing on developing, prototyping, and transitioning state-of-the-art capabilities to revolutionize ISR&T in the U.S. military. She also served as the program manager for hypersonic weapons, working closely with the U.S. Department of Defense to support the rapid development and fielding of hypersonic systems.

Phillips is a subject matter expert in missile guidance and control, and her technical contributions to innovative guidance algorithms earned her a Letter of Recognition from the Missile Defense Agency. Phillips is an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and a member of the AIAA Missile Systems Technical Committee, serving as its chair from 2017 to 2020. She currently serves on the AIAA Diversity and Inclusion Working Group, Public Policy Committee, and Ethics Committee. Phillips earned dual bachelor’s degrees in aerospace and mechanical engineering and a PhD in aerospace engineering from West Virginia University and a master’s degree in systems engineering from Johns Hopkins University.