Booz Allen Hamilton

David Erne

Senior Associate

“I always say that I’ve never had the same day here. . . There’s definitely nothing routine about working at Booz Allen.”

Why did you choose Booz Allen?

My background is in chemical engineering, and after leaving the Navy I knew I wanted to do work related to the environment, preferably at the programmatic solution level. Doing soil or water testing can be very interesting, but it was more interesting to me to help take environmental programs to the next level by formulating strategies and policies and enabling programs to operate more efficiently. And I knew that, among consulting firms, Booz Allen had a reputation for doing high-quality work.

Why have you chosen to stay at Booz Allen?

I always say that I’ve never had the same day here—and that’s exciting for me, because I like seeking out different challenges. There’s definitely nothing routine about working at Booz Allen. We’re not just a traditional environmental firm, so there’s tremendous diversity in what we do. We work with many different clients from many different federal, state, and local agencies, and we have a broad range of capabilities, including information technology (IT), cost-benefit analysis, and environmental economics. I’ve also stayed because of the professionalism and intelligence of the people I work with. It’s great to work in an atmosphere of people with a great work ethic who know how to pull together for the good of the project.

What type of work do you do at Booz Allen?

I work in the environmental field helping our clients develop strategies for managing their environmental programs more efficiently or in more innovative ways. I’ve supported many different agencies, including the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Navy, the Department of Defense, and state and local transportation agencies. In the past 2 years, I’ve also helped create the overall strategy for our line of business, develop account plans, and market our services using intellectual capital we created around sustainability and the greening of physical infrastructure.

What excites you about your work?

I collaborate on projects that are innovative, not repetitive, and that help our clients move forward and become cutting-edge. Specifically, we develop innovative ways for clients to manage their natural assets, create sustainability plans, and advance toward the greening of their organizations. Working with bright, energetic people on new solutions like these—that’s what I find exciting. I’m also part of a team that’s working on an overall strategy to green Booz Allen itself.

Do you have a mentor at Booz Allen?

I have several mentors who are senior to me, and I reach out to them for help in turning my development areas or weaknesses into strengths and understanding broader ways of thinking for the client. How do you get collaboration in a matrixed organization so that you have the best and brightest creating the best solution? How do you assemble and energize people to brainstorm and think in new ways about solving client problems? My mentors help me find answers to these questions. And I mentor others, talking through their interests and issues and helping them understand the Booz Allen culture.

What differentiates Booz Allen from other companies that you could work for? What makes Booz Allen special?

It’s having a broad suite of capabilities that we can bring to a challenge. That makes a difference. Competitors may have broad capabilities, but there’s a stovepipe that prevents them from being shared. Here, the culture is that people work together instead of competing. We’re encouraged to work collaboratively, to play well with others within the firm. Collaboration also takes place externally because we’re open to working with non-governmental organizations and others to help our clients, sometimes in pro bono activities. When you get people talking together, you break down barriers and more can happen.

How has Booz Allen helped you be ready for what’s next in your career?

Working with very smart people at Booz Allen has helped me learn more about how to think broadly, look for opportunities for collaboration, and identify ideas that are going to be most useful for the client. And that will help me with what’s next in my career as I continue to seek ways to help build an environmental consideration into organizations and identify creative new solutions that help clients operate more sustainably.

How does the work you do help your clients be ready for what’s next? How has your work and your team’s work made an impact for your client?

Around sustainability, what we do helps our clients prepare for a different economy that has carbon constraints and deal with the fact that the world is using resources faster than they’re available. It’s a huge challenge, but Booz Allen has a strong position in this area. We’re thinking very creatively about how to help clients address the anticipated carbon regulation, and I’m excited to be a part of it.

Can you talk about a time when you saw one or more of our Core Values displayed?

Diversity is a value that I see displayed at Booz Allen. I was part of the group that founded the GLOBE organization to raise awareness about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues within Booz Allen. This organization works not only to create understanding of our diversity through educational and networking opportunities but also to support the firm’s participation in conferences and recruiting events. I’ve also been very excited to work on a pro bono project for the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts. We’re helping this arts institution evaluate projects that will help it move toward being zero-waste and zero-carbon. We did this not because it would bring us more business but because we had the capabilities and it was the right thing to do…and that exemplifies the Booz Allen Core Value of client service.