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I primarily support the Department of Veterans Affairs account within our civil health business. My background is technology, so I’m mostly involved in the technology side, but I play a leadership role as well.
Our VA contracts today are a healthy mix of both technology-based and non-technology-based work. On the technology side we do everything from software development to cloud to hosting to IT project management and enterprise architecture.
But serving veterans is something I do in my personal time, as well, by volunteering. And that makes it easy to find purpose in the work we do at Booz Allen.
John Peterson is a vice president in our civil health business with a specific market focus on the Department of Veterans Affairs managing technology solution development opportunities. He also serves as a system delivery functional management team lead for the health account.
The vast majority of his career has been spent supporting federal healthcare organizations. This has included the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Military Health System, the VA/Department of Defense Interagency Program Office, and the Department of Health and Human Services (primarily the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Indian Health Service).
In addition, John spent 19 years in the federal government strategic business unit at Electronic Data Systems, where he was vice president in the federal government healthcare sector. At EDS, he supported numerous clients, including DoD Health Affairs, the U.S. Air Force Electronic Systems Command, the PEO for Standard Army Management Information Systems, and the Department of Veteran Affairs.
John has a bachelor’s degree in business management and computer science from Boston College.
What makes you passionate about what you do for Booz Allen? I was born in an Army hospital, my dad is a veteran, my brother is a Gulf War veteran, and living in the DC area you’re surrounded by veterans. Everybody knows somebody who’s gone to war; a lot of people know people who have not made it back. Serving the veteran is something I do in my personal time from a volunteering standpoint, and having that connection with my business dealings makes it easy to find purpose in the work we do.
Why would you say that Booz Allen is an ideal firm for someone with your skill set and your work history? Because I have worked with the VA for so long I have a really good understanding for the culture, the business lines that make up the VA, and a lot of the people at the VA. So I’m able to bring that, and it’s part of why I feel like a contributor to the team.
How do you motivate your team? I always like to give the people under me enough rope. It means giving them the opportunity to succeed, run free, lead, explore. There are people who will come in and say, “Tell me what to do.” That’s not what I want. I want to tell you what the goal is, and I want you to figure out how to accomplish it. What’s the best way to get there?
What mentorship advice would you give to someone who’s taking on a new leadership role? Trust your staff, stay close enough to them to make sure they are headed in the right direction and that their needs are met—whether that’s more people, more tools, more information. And don’t try to make all the decisions for them.
Why is volunteerism is important to you? I’m involved with an organization called the Paralyzed Veterans of America, the PVA. Among other activities, PVA has a national veterans wheelchair games every summer. They get 500 to 600 veterans who are wheelchair bound into an Olympic-type setting where there are 22 events to compete in. This includes everything from shooting to obstacle courses to track and field events. My family and I have volunteered at those games for the last 6 years. Going to events like that and seeing these men and women compete at an amazing level, despite the physical limitations they have, is really an emotional thing.
When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up? When I was a little kid I wanted to be a fireman, but that’s because my grandfather was a fireman. That was probably when I was 5 to 6 years old. Now I want to grow up to be a carpenter. Working with wood and my hands is my favorite hobby.