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We've come a long way delivering innovative solutions. But our next chapter is still being written.
Our 22,600 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.
After a successful career as a senior government employee, I chose to work at Booz Allen because it’s exciting to come to work with people who are at the top of their game, drawn both by the ethics of the company and the contributions we make to our clients’ missions.
As senior executive advisor, I have supported technology advancements and aligned them with the company’s consulting heritage—a powerful combination that will lead the firm into the next generation of government support.
I’m uniquely positioned to see into that future: I was the first woman hired by the firm as a partner from government.
Prior to her current role of senior executive advisor, Joan Dempsey served as deputy director of our largest market-facing organization, Defense and Intelligence. She also ledthe firm’s Consulting functional organization, driving capability and talent development in this foundational area for the firm.
Previously, Joan led the firm’s largest defense managed labor and intelligence accounts and was responsible for strategic development, execution, and day-to-day operations in each account.
Joan chaired the firm’s Sensitive Risk Review Board. For several years, Joan led the firm’s participation in the Aspen Ideas Fest where she continues as a frequent contributor on defense issues, cybersecurity and cyber operations, and women in leadership panels.
During a 25-year career in the federal government, Joan held political appointments twice. In President Bill Clinton’s Administration upon Senate confirmation, she served as the deputy director of Central Intelligence for Community Management. And, in President George W. Bush’s Administration, she served as the executive director of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.
Joan also spent 17 years as a senior civilian in the Department of Defense (DoD) as deputy director of intelligence at the Defense Intelligence Agency, as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence and security, and as the designated (acting) assistant secretary of command, control, communications and intelligence.
She led major Pentagon budget staffs during the budget build-up in the 1980s and during the defense reductions of the 1990s and helped shaped budget strategy and execution in both decades. In 1997, she was awarded the Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award by DoD Secretary William J. Perry for her work on the Bottom Up Review and the first Defense Quadrennial Review. In 2010, Joan was appointed as a panel member for the Congressionally-directed Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel.
Joan began her federal civilian service in 1983 as a presidential management intern. She also served concurrently for 25 years as a naval reserve intelligence officer and was on active duty as a U.S. Navy cryptologic technician.
Joan was the 2004 recipient of the Intelligence Security Affairs Support Association William O. Baker Award, an honor she shares with two former secretaries of defense, three members of Congress, and two former directors of central intelligence. In addition to the DoD Distinguished Civilian Service Award, she is a recipient of the National Intelligence Medal of Achievement, and The American University Roger W. Jones Award for Executive Leadership.
Joan was granted an honorary doctorate in 2004 from the National Intelligence University and currently serves on the Board of Visitors. She is a member of the board of the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, and is an ex officio board member of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Officers Memorial Foundation. She also is a member of the Intelsat General board.
What makes you passionate about your work at Booz Allen? We provide tremendous advantage to our clients. I work in the defense arena, and what we do for those clients gives them the lift they need to complete their missions.
Why does supporting those clients make you happy? I spent 25 years in government service, and I know how extremely difficult change can be. The system is designed to be risk-averse and to move slowly. At Booz Allen, we understand the system, and we help our clients accelerate the process.
What makes Booz Allen a good fit for women in leadership positions? I saw Booz Allen as a place where women were encouraged to succeed. There were institutional expectations for success, and we were supported by formal programs and informal training by colleagues that help open doors that might traditionally have been closed or hard to open. Booz Allen makes itself deliberately a place of mentorship for the success of all members. That’s invaluable. Here, the teams work to support women and minorities identify paths to success. They want to hear our voices.
What is the most pressing need you see for your clients today? The amount of data available today in all sectors, including defense and civil industries, is extraordinary. Our ability to accelerate the value of that data and make it relevant for our clients is a huge discriminator for us.
What do you look for when hiring new team members? We want people who are intellectually curious. We want people who think in terms of ideas. I like it when people try to understand the firm and ask sophisticated questions that fit their interests. People we hire at the junior level don’t need to know all about the areas we work in, but they need to be curious and they need to show that they want to make a difference.
How do you help your team stay motivated? Our staff is motivated by the fact that they are helping our clients achieve their goals. They also like to collaborate; they can move across lines to find opportunities and learn from others in the firm. We work hard to make sure there are no boundaries. These are likeminded people who want to solve problems.
What is a great piece of business advice you’ve been given? Ask for help when you need it. At Booz Allen, it’s encouraged to ask for help and to offer help when others ask you for it. I think it’s unique to this firm. It’s an important aspect of our collaborative and partnership model. You won’t be punished or judged for asking for help. It’s considered a strength. Offering help is also a show of strength. It speaks to the culture.
Can you give two words to describe you in high school? Focused and determined.
What was your first job? I worked at a dairy queen, not part of the chain. It was a little barbecue joint in Arkansas.
What is something you feel nostalgic about? Music. When I hear a song from my preteen or teen years, I associate it with people or places.
What do you consider your strongest character trait? I always consider the ethics of any situation. I realize there are societal mores, but I always want to follow the highest ethical standard.
What is a fun fact about your life? I’ve been in several bands, including one several years ago, made up of senior executives from industry and television. We get together and periodically play. I’m a vocalist. I grew up singing in church. I love rock, blues, and increasingly jazz as I get older. I like ballads—I consider myself a ballads girl.
Where do you see Booz Allen in the next 100 years? I think we are leading the industry in combining tremendous technical talent with a strong consulting legacy. That provides us with advantage in the marketplace. We have always helped clients solve their toughest problems with our great consulting expertise. But now we have the tools of analytics, engineering, software development, data science. That’s a powerful combination.