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I work with clients tackling some of the country’s most critical issues—terrorist activities, drug interdiction, even driverless vehicles in commercial spaces. I think the most relevant issues facing the country today are ones that we are at the heart of.
To help solve these challenges, I harness the full power of the firm leading the Justice, Homeland Security, and Transportation business, rallying resources from across Booz Allen to develop creative and transformative solutions. That requires being open to new ideas and making the most of talented resources.
I come to work every day with people who are working together for a higher purpose. It is a powerful motivator.
Fred Blackburn leads our Justice, Homeland Security, and Transportation business. Prior to that, Fred led both the analytics and predictive intelligence business areas for commercial, civil, defense, and security clients.
He has also played a leading role in the firm’s mission analytics capability. He led more than 2,500 staff providing cyber, all-source, signals intelligence, and geospatial intelligence services to security and defense clients. Fred initially served as the security market lead for the firm’s economic and business analysis capability team.
Before joining Booz Allen in 2008, Fred headed up the management consulting division at Northrop Grumman/TASC. As a director, he was responsible for six lines of business, including acquisition management, decision analysis, cost and risk analysis, financial management, intelligence analysis, and change management.
Fred began his career as an operations research analyst for the Naval Center for Cost Analysis (NCAA). He conducted in-depth cost analyses of major weapon systems and was instrumental in standing up NCCA’s contractor financial health assessment capabilities.
A recognized thought leader, Fred was awarded two Director of Central Intelligence Meritorious Unit Citations for his contributions to the Future Imagery Architecture Joint Management Office and his support to the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.
He holds an M.B.A. from The George Washington University and a B.S. in finance with a minor in economics from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He has also completed an executive leadership program at the Darden School at the University of Virginia.
What are the most pressing needs in your industry? One is around when a crisis unfolds today, how do we respond to it and how do we prevent it from happening in the first place. There’s a tremendous amount of data out there. It’s making sense of that data and creating the insights that gets us ahead of these problems. Second is the pace of change that we are facing in the world today. It’s hitting us across our client space. Third, the needs of our clients are such that there’s not enough budget to go around to satisfy all those needs. We’ve got to become more ingenious and creative and innovative in finding ways to break from the past and find more effective, transformative solutions to an ever-broadening problem set.
What are some of the biggest untapped opportunities that you see? There’s no doubt we are going through a technological revolution, and being able to figure out where, when and how these technologies converge and begin to transform entire industries and getting ahead of that is ultimately the biggest opportunity we face.
How do you see your role in helping clients realize these opportunities? We are really fortunate at Booz in that we are so close with our clients and work so close to their missions. I think one thing we do better than anybody else is harnessing the full power of the firm on a problem. That’s where the magic happens.
What drew you to Booz Allen? I was at a competitor for 15 years before coming to Booz. Once I understood the way the firm operated, the “One Team One Fight” concept, that the vast majority of the time is spent doing meaningful and impactful things, and there’s an authenticity and genuineness amongst the people I got to know, it became the easiest decision—short of getting married—that I’ve ever had.
How did you get into your career? I went to school to go into investment banking. I graduated the year the market crashed and Wall Street was laying people off left and right, and I found a job working as an intern with the government doing analytics and fell in love with analytics and I’ve been tied to it in some way, shape or form since then.
What is the best business advice you have ever received? Put the mission of your client first and everything else takes care of itself.
What advice would you give yourself as a young professional? Have confidence in what you are doing, stay true to what you believe in, and if you do, it will serve you well. Be open-minded to new ideas but stick to the core of what you believe in.
What motivates you and gets you out of bed in the morning? My family. My wife and three boys and two dogs. They are my heart and soul. I’d start with them. The second thing is the relevance of work we are doing and the impact we can have. I’d say the third thing is I’ve never found a place with a higher caliber group of people—just genuine and authentic and good human beings—that we have at Booz Allen.
What keeps you awake at night? I sleep pretty well. But I worry about are we taking care of our people to the greatest extent that we can at all levels. Do we have our vision of the future, do we have it right, are we leading our clients in the right direction?
Why are you passionate about your work at Booz Allen? Being part of the missions we support and perform on behalf of our clients. They are often the most critical and important missions facing our country today. The other piece is we get to work with some truly special folks who have a passion for it and who have spent their lives dedicated to these types of activities.