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For me, it all comes down to people. Surround yourself with great ones, and success will naturally follow.
As executive vice president, I lead the Financial Services team to solve tough financial challenges and anticipate future needs, be they keeping data secure or making sense of mountains of information that need to be organized and analyzed.
I believe the best way to find solutions is not only through building strong teams but also being entrepreneurial—solving new client problems in new ways that might create new businesses for the firm has proven rewarding for me.
Dr. David Kletter is the leader of the firm’s financial services group, and is based in our New York office. David leads the development and delivery of advanced solutions to a variety of financial institutions in the banking, capital markets, payments, and insurance sectors. He focuses on strategic issues including big data and analytics, risk and regulatory compliance, financial crimes, and cybersecurity. David has worked with top management in Fortune 500 companies and with institutions in the public sector to create lasting improvements in their businesses.
David is an experienced business strategist and leader. In his more than 20 years of client work, he has led engagements to assist top management with organizational effectiveness, growth strategy, private equity, due diligence, industry strategic discontinuities management, emerging market strategy, and corporate portfolio assessments. He also has experience in a variety of industries, including financial services, media and entertainment, consumer products, aerospace, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. In addition, David has pioneered the development of new businesses for the firm, building capabilities in predictive intelligence and social media analytics.
A recognized thought leader, David authored or co-authored several studies and articles including “Adventures in Corporate Venturing,” “A Global Checkup: Diagnosing the Health of Today’s Organizations,” “Treating the Troubled Corporation,” and “Shrinking Core-Expanding Periphery: The Relational Architecture of High Performing Organizations.”
David has four degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: B.S. degrees in management and in mathematics, an M.B.A., and a Ph.D. in management.
What makes you passionate about your work at Booz Allen? The incredible work we do for clients and the amazing professionals I work with. I don’t just think of the financial services group as my team. Booz Allen is my team. It’s an entire network of people from all across the firm, people that are ready to support our financial services clients.
What are the pressing needs for your clients? The biggest is cybersecurity. As attacks become more sophisticated, we see the Internet and cyber attacks contributing to the loss of financial data and personal data. We have to help our clients manage and evolve for a threat that’s constantly changing. The second challenge is big data. We’re sitting on incredible amounts of data that need to be managed and extracted for the right information.
How does your team position clients to face these challenges? We’re their trusted adviser through the entire process, from creating strategy and developing a roadmap to actual operation.
What keeps your team motivated? Our clients depend on us. Our work often has a larger impact than just the project we are working on today. We focus on the mission, and that keeps us going.
What do you look for in potential hires? I like people who enjoy doing something really hard just for the challenge of it. It can be anything—academic success, or running in a triathlon, or playing a musical instrument. The people who excel are the ones who get personal satisfaction out of facing hard challenges, and they get that drive out of succeeding. We really do need people who resonate with taking on our clients’ toughest problems. We aren’t looking for the cheapest, easiest solutions. We want to be the best.
What is a great piece of business advice you’ve received? Always stay focused on your client. And in consulting, take care of your people. I think you help your people first and then they’re able to stay client-focused.
How do you help your team feel valued? First, I try to understand what each person wants out of their career. We shouldn’t assume everyone wants the same thing. New staff may not have enough experiences to know what they want, so we have to help them find their way. I like to be hands on with my team and talk with them.
What is something you wish you knew as a young professional? I’ve learned that the most important thing is the people I work with. It has become the only thing that matters to me. It’s the secret to my happiness and success at Booz Allen—surrounding myself with great people. You can have a challenging situation in a hard location, but if you get the right group of people, you’ll produce extraordinary work for our clients, you’re going to have a huge amount of impact, you’re going to have fun, and you’re going to learn. These relationships will last a lifetime.
What can we all do to be happier in life? Work on something you care about—find missions that are meaningful and apply yourself to that. You bounce out of bed in the morning when you care about what’s happening. When we work the hardest, it’s when we were needed the most. When I look back on times when my team worked the hardest, I could never have asked them to do that. They were inspired by being a part of the solution and the need of the people around them.