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Being ready for next-generation technology can increasingly tip the balance between success and mission failure for organizations. But where that evolution gives many pause, I see promise for my clients, which include a number of Department of Defense agencies.
Rapid technology change is a constant, with the state of the art changing every day. Booz Allen stays out in front of tech evolution and invests in key revolutionary approaches to bring new solutions to our clients.
I take satisfaction in preparing my staff for the future, and my approach to development and mentoring is strongly rooted in my own experience with the firm—Booz Allen, like everything, is what you make it. From day one I was only bounded by the ideas, time, and energy I had to put into my profession, colleagues, and clients.
Chris Ellis is a leader in the firm’s Joint Combatant Command business. An expert in IT infrastructure, he engineers, delivers, and supports comprehensive end-to-end IT solutions for defense and security clients.
His expertise includes:
He is recognized for providing IT infrastructure and engineering services to clients across the U.S. Department of Defense with primary market responsibilities at Defense Information Systems Agency, Defense Logistics Agency, Defense Finance and Accounting Services, the Joint Staff, and the National Defense University.
Chris has more than 20 years of professional experience, joining the firm in 1999. Previously he focused on network and data center engineering and operations for Network Solutions and Electronic Warfare Associates.
He holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech.
What makes you most passionate about your work? I enjoy problem solving, and helping others reach their full potential – each of us at Booz Allen are always working on making things ‘better’. That is a state of mind, a journey, not a destination. I view each person at Booz Allen and our clients as my job—to help them solve problems. When I look for and find the perfect mix of both, that gives me the charge I need to tackle the next problem.
How do you help your clients prepare for the future? We bring excellence in delivery and the highest quality. The colleagues we hire and their dedication is what drives our delivery and ensures quality. We are always looking for ways to help move together to the next level by solving problems faster, better, cheaper.
What are the most pressing needs in your industry? Experts with attitude. Cloud computing, machine learning, data science—these aren’t fields where being an expert is easy. So much of our industry is reactive. Someone creates a virus or a worm, so we create a defense. Booz Allen is helping our clients break the cycle and be out in front. The technologies and techniques vary but the need to make it better is a constant. That requires the right expertise and an intense desire to help, to make it better.
What scares your clients? Falling behind and in so doing failing in their mission. Most of my clients are in the Defense Department so failing to stop a cyber attack or not being ready can have real consequences. The state of the art doesn’t stop so neither can our clients.
What are your tips for managing and motivating people? Leading people is easy: Listen. You have to hear what people are saying to understand. As a manager you have to listen to solve problems but as a leader you need to know your colleagues before can help them – people motivate themselves if they believe in what they are doing. Motivation is the difference between getting it done and doing it right.
What advice would you have given yourself as a young professional? Start each day with a purpose. Enjoy your efforts and work with good people you trust. Once you find the right fit, the right purpose, that is when it all falls in the place.
What is the most influential book you’ve read? The Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. It follows the arc of humanity leaving the Earth and populating the galaxy. It mirrors the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, how it was built and how it went into a period of decay and how it might be brought back. There was a quote in the first novel: “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” I always liked that quote and how it played out in the book—that force is often convenient but not the right answer. The same applies to being a consultant at Booz Allen. It is hard work but if you have to push and argue then you are doing it wrong.
What makes Booz Allen an ideal firm for someone with your expertise and skills? Booz Allen is what you make it. The door is never closed. Before I joined Booz Allen I had to move from job to job, company to company, to grow, learn, and change. One of the many things that is special about Booz Allen is you can build and own your career and accomplishments. It is not something you realize until your work here and experience just how different, almost unique, the culture and values really are.