Booz Allen Hamilton

Our Stories

CHARACTER SKETCHES

Ed Booz founded Booz Allen Hamilton with the belief that the right people in the right roles help a company thrive. And for over 100 years, Booz Allen’s success has derived from its ability to attract, develop, and deploy skilled people with innovative ideas. The firm has always cultivated a diverse cast of characters with varied backgrounds and personalities, starting with its early leaders: Edwin Booz, James Allen, and Carl Hamilton. Here some of the firm’s leaders in 2014 sharing their perspectives on the history and future—of our firm, our profession, our community of clients, and our role in making the world a better place. 

 

"Here's what the house is going to look like."
"You never really know what life has in store for you."
“The best people doing the best work for the best clients.”
“It’s great to work all day with your friends.”
“What Booz Allen meant to me? It was pure opportunity.”
“I didn’t stop supporting the nation when I retired from government”
“Part of leading is to help people be their best.”
“How do you see over the horizon?”
“I enjoy building things.”
“We build things for our clients”
“Leave no stone unturned”

 

 

“Here’s what the house is going to look like.”

Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer Sam Strickland shares life lessons from his summer job as a carpenter.

“You never really know what life has in store for you.”

From supporting the arts to helping small businesses survive, Reggie Van Lee has powerfully integrated his business success with his passion for community service.

“The best people doing the best work for the best clients.”

Ralph Shrader, Booz Allen’s centennial CEO and seventh Chairman, looks back on early lessons in collaboration from high school sports, and looks ahead to the importance of ensuring that Booz Allen remains a special place committed to being and doing the best.

“It’s great to work all day with your friends.”

Working hard and playing hard as part of strong team has enabled Lloyd Howell to take risks and seize opportunities.

“What Booz Allen meant to me? It was pure opportunity.”

Karen Dahut shares her perspective on career growth in a meritocracy, and how innovation can help her clients sleep better at night.

“I didn’t stop supporting the nation when I retired from government”

Reflecting on her career in various government positions and at Booz Allen, Joan Dempsey shares the importance, excitement, and rewards of supporting the nation and the nation’s security.

“Part of leading is to help people be their best.” 

Bill Stasior, the sixth chairman of Booz Allen, reflects on early influences on his leadership philosophy, what attracted him to Booz Allen, and Jim Allen, one of the firm’s founders.

“How do you see over the horizon?”

When he was around 10 years old, Mike McConnell made a commitment to never be afraid of change. Here he shares how that outlook translated into anticipating threats as an intelligence officer and embracing technology at the right time to lead cybersecurity at Booz Allen.

“I enjoy building things.”

Joseph Logue talks about how he learned early on that if he applied heart and thought, he could build anything. At Booz Allen, that life lesson led to his building many businesses and putting clients’ interests first —including shutting down programs he supported because he believed his clients no longer needed them. 

“We build things for clients”

Booz Allen is more than a management technology consulting firm, says Jack Mayer, who discusses how the firm supports career growth for both people who want to move up the management ranks, and those who build things for clients and want to be successful engineers and technicians.

“Leave no stone unturned”

Gary Mather describes his approach to winning business, referred to as “leave no stone unturned,” which involves being immersed in what’s important to the client and doing part of the job in the proposal.

 

REFLECTIONS—PAST AND PRESENT

With 100 years of history, Booz Allen Hamilton has many memorable stories that make up our corporate lore. Some narratives convey our commitment to client service, others illustrate people living up to our Core Values, and still others are chiefly amusing anecdotes. Here we share stories from a few of the firm’s more memorable characters—distinctive individuals recounting interesting events. Each month during 2014, we’ll add new written and video stories to this page, so check back often.

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SAVING THE CLIENT’S LIFE

“I yelled up to the pilot, ‘Hey, the door’s open here!’"

Retired Senior Vice President John Wing led Booz Allen’s Transportation Consulting Division. He told this story in a 2004 interview.

An assignment for the Coast Guard sent our team around the U.S., looking at their maintenance of buoys and maritime navigation structures. On one trip to Alaska in a little seaplane, my client—a Coast Guard captain—sat next to me. All of a sudden, the door next to him flew open. I grabbed onto my client and yelled up to the pilot, “Hey, the door’s open here!”

“No problem,” he called back. “It happens all the time. There’s a rope in the overhead. Get it and tie up that handle.” We did. It worked. I’ll always remember that as the time we saved not just the project, but the client.

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TWO DEGREES OF SEPARATION

“Without Jim Allen’s generosity, I probably wouldn’t have gone to college."

Bill Stasior, Booz Allen Chairman and CEO from 1991 through 1999, told this personal story for a commemorative booklet published after the death of Jim Allen.

In the early 1960s, I was able to attend Northwestern because of a scholarship program for caddies started by the famous amateur golfer Chick Evans. Years later, after I became CEO of Booz Allen, I visited Jim Allen in Florida and learned that he had been one of the founding contributors of the Evans Scholar Program.

I was struck by what a small world this is, by how the past affects the present and future, and I realized that, without Jim Allen’s generosity, I probably wouldn’t have gone to college—at least not a college of Northwestern’s caliber. And I most probably would not have joined the firm. When he heard this story, Jim commented: "Well, the investment has obviously paid off."

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THE ORIGINS OF THE VOLUNTARY CHAIN STORE

“Out of this work grew…the idea of chain brands like True Value Hardware."

Jim Allen, a Booz Allen founder and former chairman, told this story in a 1982 oral-history interview.

There used to be a firm in Chicago called Hibbard-Spencer-Bartlett. They were wholesalers of hardware—in those days, an important business. I spent one summer traveling with 40 of their salesmen, to see what they were doing with their time. We were trying to find out how they could make their services more effective through the independent hardware stores. Ward’s and Sears were beginning to make themselves felt, and Hibbard-Spencer was trying to meet this new competition.

We found out that the salesmen were spending most of their time with their weakest outlets. There they had more time to talk about fishing, baseball, and the kids. At the busiest outlets, they didn’t have any time to talk; those merchants were busy with their customers, setting up merchandise displays and writing ads. We found that the Hibbard-Spencer salesmen had nothing to suggest to these merchants, other than to lay down a 4,000-page catalogue and say, “Is there anything you want?”

On the basis of these findings, we helped them restructure their sales coverage. The outlets where volume was moving should get most of the attention. Hibbard-Spencer had to be of real service to these merchants, rather than just take orders. Out of this work grew the voluntary chain idea, the idea of chain brands like True Value Hardware, where the supplier would provide marketing techniques along with the merchandise.

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THE MOST ENTERTAINING PRESENTATION

“My suit was melting before their eyes. Drip. Drip. Drip.“

Charles “Chuck” Allison is a retired Booz Allen senior vice president who was based in Chicago. He recorded a video version of this story, which he often told at training sessions.

Back in the winter of 1972, I got an emergency call from Zurich. The chairman of a large multinational company asked me to be in Switzerland the next day by 11 a.m. for a meeting of the board of directors. The question was, Who should be the U.S. subsidiary’s next president?

I grabbed my overnight bag, dashed to the St. Louis airport, chartered a small plane to Chicago, and jumped on the evening flight to Zurich. Early the next morning I landed in Zurich, slightly groggy, and was then off by taxi to a downtown hotel to rest, freshen up, and prepare. It was 8 a.m. What a shock when I saw myself in the mirror! My suit looked as though I had slept in it for three days. What to do? I remembered an old technique my father had used: hang your coat and trousers on the shower rod in the hotel bathroom. Turn on the hot water in the bathtub. Shut the bathroom door and let the wrinkles steam away.

I got the process under way and flopped on my hotel bed for a ten-minute rest. I fell asleep and woke up, not ten minutes but an hour later, at nine o’clock. I jumped off the bed and groped around for my suit in the steam-choked bathroom. It was soaking, sopping, saturated wet. With only a couple of hours left, I had to improvise. Luckily I had a balcony overlooking Lake Zurich. So I hung my coat and trousers on the railing and flopped down on the bed for another quick cat-nap. Again, I over-napped. Perhaps one hour later I woke up with a start and scrambled to get ready. Shower, shave, fresh shirt, then out to the balcony for my suit. It was frozen—stiff as a board. I had no choice: scraping and stretching, straining and tugging, I finally got inside it.

It was now 10:30, thirty minutes before meeting time. I walked like a wooden soldier. Every time I moved, my suit gave off little tinkling noises. Since our Swiss client’s office was only three blocks from my hotel, I decided to go by foot. My suit crunched as the ice crystals began to break up. I made it just in time, at one minute before 11 o’clock. I was ushered into the boardroom to confer with 12 solemn Swiss directors, none of whom I had met before.

As I nervously neared the conclusion of my report, I began to feel damp. My suit was melting before their eyes. Drip. Drip. Drip. Puddles formed on the floor, on my chair, and on the boardroom tabletop. My Swiss friends were mesmerized. Eventually I could stand it no longer. I stopped the presentation, took a deep breath, and said, “Gentlemen, I began this presentation with a slight problem. I had only one suit, and this morning it froze. I will shortly end this presentation with a somewhat larger problem. My frozen suit is thawing. I think you deserve an explanation.” Then I blurted out the whole silly chain of events.

I have rarely seen a group of men laugh so hard. The chairman patted me on the back and said, “This has been a most interesting and entertaining presentation.” Then he invited me to join the board for lunch. That crazy meeting turned out to be the beginning of a fruitful relationship with our fine Swiss client. The moral is: You can still win clients, even when you’re all wet.

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HELPING CLIENTS ENVISION THE FUTURE

Read more Booz Allen stories in the book published in 2004 for the firm’s 90th anniversary.

Helping Clients Envision the Future was produced in a limited press run and is not available for sale.

Since its founding in 1914, Booz Allen has been involved in the emergence of modern corporations in the 1920s and 1930s, the Allied mobilization in World War II, the beginning and end of the Cold War, the dawn of the Space Age, the evolution of the personal computer, the breakup of old telephone systems and the creation of new ones, early public-private sector work in the European Union, the emergence of strong economies in Asia and South America, the waves of deregulation in the 1980s, the movement for environmental protection, and the birth of the modern U.S. National Football League. Booz Allen has also been witness to or participant in the reunification of Germany, the Gulf Wars, and the response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

The firm’s 90th anniversary book, Helping Clients Envision the Future, captures the highlights of Booz Allen’s rich history up until 2004 through 128 pages of narrative, personal anecdotes, full-color images, and historical artifacts.

Featured Centennial Stories

As Booz Allen celebrates its centennial, we honor the legacy left by Edwin Booz with the unifying theme “Start with Character.” Throughout 2014, we’ll share stories of our rich heritage and vision for the future—pulled through three important subthemes: Act with Integrity, Serve with Purpose, and Reach Forward. We invite you to explore our featured stories:

Start With Character
Ringing In Our Centennial
We are Innovators
Serving Our Community

Start With Character

START WITH CHARACTER

A 100-Year heritage that sets us apart

As Booz Allen celebrates its centennial, we honor the legacy left by Edwin Booz with the unifying theme “Start with Character.” Read More.

 

 

Ringing In Our Centennial

START WITH CHARACTER

A 100-Year heritage that sets us apart

As Booz Allen celebrates its centennial, we honor the legacy left by Edwin Booz with the unifying theme “Start with Character.” Read More.

 

 

We Are Innovators

WE ARE INNOVATORS

Rethinking Client Problems

Innovation is in our DNA. Today, we’re investing in new capabilities and bringing them together in a collection of integrated solutions platforms through Booz Allen’s Strategic Innovation Group. Our charge is to deliver new and unique solutions for our clients that don’t exist today. As our firm marks its 100th year in business, we are reaffirming our commitment to entrepreneurship and the art of the possible Read More.

 

Serving Our community

SERVING OUR COMMUNITY

A Century of Spirit and Service

The most fitting way for Booz Allen to celebrate 100 years of serving our communities is to build on that legacy with the same strength of character and commitment. Read More.

 

 

The World of Degas/Cassatt

The World of Degas/Cassatt

Exploring the Art of Collaboration

Throughout Booz Allen’s 100th anniversary year, we are partnering with several leading institutions including the National Gallery of Art. We are proud to sponsor Degas/Cassatt, a free exhibition of some 70 works in a variety of media by Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt. Read More.

 

 

Treasure Life's Characters

Treasure Life’s Characters

Building Excellence over Time

Booz Allen’s centennial year centers on the theme “Start with Character”—one of the core consulting values penned by our founder, Edwin Booz. But how exactly does one develop personal character? Our Chairman and CEO Ralph Shrader believes that character is built through the influences of certain people—the characters you surround yourself with at various times and places in your life. Read More.