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Our 26,300 engineers, scientists, software developers, technologists, and consultants live to solve problems that matter. We’re proud of the diversity throughout our organization, from our most junior ranks to our board of directors and leadership team.
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After nearly 3 decades, I am still excited about helping the Defense Department meet its missions.
When I came to Booz Allen, it was still the Cold War. I was working on a communications system that was really a key to our nation’s nuclear deterrence. I felt like it was important—what we were doing was helping keep the world safe.
My team and I are taking on the challenges of modernizing and improving government systems.
I’m motivated by hard problems. There’s a certain satisfaction after solving a hard problem. Solving an easy problem? Not that much satisfaction.
Dick Johnson is a leader of our acquisition and sustainment efforts, working primarily with U.S. Army clients. His key clients include the Missile Defense Agency, Army Materiel Command, Space and Missile Defense Command, Army Sustainment Command, and the respectively affiliated research, development and engineering centers. Dick has 30 years of experience in engineering and integration of complex space, communications, networking, and battle management systems.
His experience includes:
His functional expertise includes:
Prior to joining Booz Allen, Dick worked on the upgrade of the Patriot radar from air defense to tactical missile defense for Raytheon Company.
Dick holds a B.S. in electrical engineering and computer science from The Johns Hopkins University and an M.S. in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you always see yourself doing something technical?
No, I didn’t. My father was an engineer, and I did not want to be an engineer. I really didn’t. When I was in high school, I was thinking about becoming a lawyer.
How did you get into consulting? When I was in graduate school at Georgia Tech, every weekend I would drive to the Atlanta airport and pick up a Baltimore Sun and a Washington Post to look for a job. Eventually I saw a Booz Allen ad for satellite communications and I said, “This involves electromagnetics, signal processing, and communications. That sounds interesting. Maybe I should send my resume.”
What is the best business advice you’ve gotten in your career? Be thoughtful. Don’t act out of panic in challenging situations. Slow down, take your time, think through what it is you need to do, and then when you’re ready to do it, do it.
What advice would you give yourself as a young professional? It would be the same advice my dad gave me: be more than an engineer. Take advantage of the opportunity that you have in a firm like this to learn how to grow people and how to grow a business. There’s a lot of opportunity to do that here that you don’t necessarily get at a lot of other companies.
What would you say is your strongest character trait? I’m a realist. I tend to take a practical approach to determining what we can accomplish rather than starting out with an answer and then pushing it through.
What is something not many people know about you? I come from a whole family of swimmers. My mom was a swim coach and I swam at Johns Hopkins, where I was a Division III All-American three out of four years.
How do you help your clients prepare for the future? Most of my clients’ systems are technically oriented. With the rapid change in technology, I try to keep ahead of the latest technological advancements and then think through how those may apply to my clients.
How do you stay on top of all of these advancements that happen so quickly? Just read. Read and listen to others at the firm.
What makes you excited to come to work in the morning? I have a lot of fun with the people I work with. We have our stumbling blocks, but we like each other and work as a team. They make me think differently, and sometimes I make them think differently.
What are your tips for managing and motivating your people? It starts with understanding what motivates them. Different people are motivated by different things, so I always try to understand what motivates my team. Is it money? Is it leadership responsibility, or the technology? I start there.
What’s an idea or an invention that you wish you’d thought of? I have experience with spread-spectrum communications—an underlying technology for how our cell phones work today. That would have been a cool thing to invent.
What’s an old item you can’t get rid of? All my old T-shirts. My wife has a rule now: Every time I bring in a new T-shirt, I have to get rid of an old one. I’m sentimentally attached to them, though.
What are you nostalgic for? For the days when I was not accessible 24/7. Now, I feel naked if I walk out the door without my cell phone. So, I’m a little bit nostalgic for that. It obviously has its downsides from a productivity perspective. It’s still nice to be able to disconnect, but I don’t get to do it very often.
Why is Booz Allen an ideal firm for someone with expertise and skills in your line of work? If you are an engineer and you’re interested in getting the opportunity to do great engineering work, but also in getting the opportunity to learn all kinds of other skills—management skills, leadership skills, business development skills, people skills—it’s a great place to work.
Why are you passionate about what you do? I love that I get to work with really talented people, and that includes the people at Booz Allen and our clients. The second thing is helping make a difference for my clients and helping them be successful in their missions.