François Heisbourg is Senior Adviser for Europe for the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), as well as Special Adviser for the Paris-based Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS). He has served in government, industry and academia. He has made notable contributions to French defence policymaking, including the 2006 White Paper, 'La France face au terrorisme', as well as defence and national security White Papers under President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007–08 and President François Hollande in 2012–13). He has also sat on consultative bodies for the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament; the International Commission on the Balkans and the European Commission.
He was chairman of the IISS from 2002 to 2018, and from 1998 to 2018, he chaired the Foundation Council of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. In 2015–17, he was a Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow at the Bosch Academy in Berlin.