We learned last Thursday of the passing of Howard Schmidt. I knew this day was coming due to his long illness, but the sense of loss upon hearing the news isn’t any less. While others have written more detailed accounts of his accomplishments, I would like to add some personal recollections.
I first met Howard at the RSA Conference during my first role at Adobe as director for Product Security. After that first hallway chat I had many more opportunities to spend time with Howard and learn from watching him work, particularly during our time together on the SAFECode board.
I always marveled at his energy, confidence, and consistency in front of a crowd — not only his ability to knock out one good speech, but the fact that I never saw him turn in a bad one. Despite his enthusiasm, Howard had a clear eye on the challenges, but never gave in to security nihilism.
Howard loved to tell stories, and he had an inexhaustible supply of them – from his time working as an undercover cop in Arizona when he once posed as a biker — to his time working at the White House (driving his Harley to work there, naturally), and beyond. But he also loved to hear stories from others. As a result, he had a massive network of friends he could tap into in order to get things done. As such, he was a real facilitator and leader, and always eager to help.
I will remember Howard as an incredibly accomplished man who could get along with just about anyone, and I will miss having him in my life. The outpouring of warm memories the last couple of days shows that, not surprisingly, I am far from alone.
Chief Security Officer