Robert O'Brien

Affiliate Faculty - CWES


Bobby O’Brien is an Affiliate Assistant Professor with the Center for West European Studies at the University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Studies. Bobby is also a Cybersecurity Strategist at Apple, having joined the company’s Information Security division in 2019. Bobby’s work at Apple focuses on international cybersecurity policy.

Bobby specializes in research and practice at the intersection of international affairs, business, and cybersecurity. From 2013 to 2019, Bobby held roles focused on this intersection at Microsoft. Between 2013 and 2015, Bobby served as the international business planning lead for Microsoft Azure. In this capacity, Bobby worked on the programs that launched Azure in Germany, India, and China. Thereafter, from 2015 to 2019, Bobby was a Senior Cybersecurity Strategist on Microsoft’s Digital Diplomacy Team. Bobby’s initial work in Digital Diplomacy focused on issues such as cyber supply chain risk management (C-SCRM) and Chinese cybersecurity strategy and policy. Later, Bobby became a founding member of Microsoft’s Defending Democracy Program, established to apply cybersecurity principles, practices, and technologies to the cause of election defense. Within the Defending Democracy Program, Bobby led program management efforts as well as the ‘disinformation defense’ portfolio.

Before entering the private sector, Bobby worked as a researcher in the Foreign Policy Program at The Brookings Institution. Bobby holds a B.A. in International Relations from The George Washington University and an M.Sc. in Global Governance and Diplomacy from The University of Oxford. He is currently a D.Phil Candidate (ABD) in International Relations at The University of Oxford. Bobby is fluent in Chinese and was a Fulbright Scholar in the People’s Republic of China from 2008-2009.

Bobby grew up in Merrimack, NH. He lived in Washington, D.C., Beijing, and Oxford, before moving to Seattle in 2013. He currently lives in West Seattle with his wife and three children.