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It doesn't matter whether I'm helping Booz Allen clients develop the latest innovations in transportation, or supporting the infrastructure of the future with leading-edge devices and insightful data. What matters most is helping my clients meet their goals, the impact on their community, and enabling Booz Allen to change the world.
The missions I’ve been involved with touch everybody. Every person is involved in transportation or is impacted by the environment and infrastructure. That’s a powerful mission.
And that’s a pretty cool place to be. I get excited about that.
Prior to joining Booz Allen, Brian spent 21 years as a leader at ARINC Inc. His work there included systems integration, network management systems, customer relationship management systems, and software development in a variety of domains.
Brian also served as a surface warfare officer in the U.S. Navy. He holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from Cornell University and an M.B.A from Pepperdine University.
What excites you about working in infrastructure? What I like about my job is the people—leading the people, and getting to know these incredibly talented and smart employees doing leading-edge work. Trying to figure out how many tons of carbon per flight hour we’re saving as a plane changes from point-to-point routing to direct routing—that’s challenging stuff.
How did you end up at Booz Allen? Blind luck. I was leading a transportation-focused business for ARINC in California, where we built train control systems and security systems. I went to my 25th college reunion, where I met my now wife. She’s a senior executive at the Pentagon. We dated from California to DC for the better part of a year and finally decided that was silly. So I moved. I networked and I got an opportunity at Booz Allen in the transportation business. And I couldn’t be happier.
Why is Booz Allen is an ideal firm for someone with your expertise? You can create your career, go anywhere you want. You can really follow your passion, and you get to work with great people who are following their passion on some incredibly important missions for our country.
How do you motivate your team? These are Booz Allen people. They’re largely self-motivated. But you can make it fun, right? I like to have our teams do a lot of community work. We created community ambassadors in the Justice, Homeland Security and Transportation account. Every month we do something for a not-for-profit or charitable organization. It’s great for the recipients of the service, but I think it provides even more for our team as we get together, have some fun, and feel good about what we’re doing in our community.
What mentorship advice would you give to someone taking on a new leadership role? Transparency is everything. Also, surrounding yourself with people smarter than you is the best thing you can do. And letting them run, that’s the trick. We hire all this great talent; what you want is the horses to run free. As long as they’re all running in the same direction, that’s a lot of horsepower. It’s about guiding and leading, not controlling.
What was the best piece of advice you were given? If you’re going to lead, you have to show up. You have to be there. You have to be in place, people have to see you, they have to know you, they have to be able to talk to you, they have to understand where you’re trying to go.
If you could give the just-starting-out Brian Pickerall one piece of advice, what would it be? Listen more. I’m somewhat extroverted, and sometimes you have to reel it back in and let people talk.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? A major league baseball player.
What was your first job? Delivering The Washington Post, 5:30 in the morning, 6 years, from the time I was 12 until I went away to college.
What was your worst job? I take away something from everything. I always expected to work, so work never bothered me. I spent two summers during college working as an electrician’s helper, which was certainly the dirtiest job—crawling around in the mud and dirt—but I learned stuff that I still use today.
What do you like to do in your spare time? I like to play golf. I like to watch baseball. I like to go on the water—we live on a lake and enjoy boating, kayaking, and swimming. That’s probably left over from my naval service. And I enjoy wine and food with my wife and friends.
What is something that most people don’t know about you? I dabble at playing guitar.