Booz Allen Hamilton

Start with Character

Start With Character.


When Edwin Booz went into business for himself and opened an office in 1914, he laid its foundation using new approaches to management. Reaching far beyond the prevailing mindset in that World War I era, Ed Booz believed passionately that he could help companies succeed by bringing them a human touch. Even though he used sophisticated management techniques, he insisted that “people, not products” were the focus of the work. In those first years of business, he already knew that if you could find the right people, place them in the right position, and provide the best possible support, it would lead to better results than relying on any particular theory, method, or tool.

A Basket of Blueberries

Inside the walls of that first office, he started a tradition of presenting a basket of blueberries to newly promoted partners. Much like those blueberries he harvested from the bushes of his Michigan country home, he personally handpicked each employee to be made partner.

Start with Character

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Ed based his partner selections on a list of key attributes for a high-quality individual that he himself had penned. At the top of the paper he wrote: “Start with character, intelligence, and industry.” Known around the office as “Boozisms,” these characteristics influenced the firm’s first code of ethics—written by Carl Hamilton in the 1930s—which became an individual and institutional commitment for all. And Booz’s approach to selecting personnel—requiring character as the basic foundation and embedding it in client work—remains today a keystone quality of the company that he founded.

As Booz Allen celebrated its centennial, we honored the legacy left by Edwin Booz with the unifying theme “Start with Character” – and its three important subthemes:

  • Act with Integrity
  • Serve with Purpose
  • Reach Forward.


We further commemorated our centennial with various activities and events during 2014, including sponsorships with leading institutions. To celebrate 100 years of caring, on January 1, 2014 we kicked off the Centennial Community Challenge, which encouraged employees to help the firm reach a combined 100,000 volunteer hours in 2014 by committing to volunteer 100 hours during the year. When the Centennial year ended on December 31, 2014, Booz Allen employees had far exceeded this goal, volunteering over 150,000 hours of community service.