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I’m a firm believer that everyone needs some kind of a stress outlet, to be ready for whatever the day brings. So kickboxing or some type of intense exercise at 5 a.m.—that’s how I start my day, every day.
As a senior vice president with the firm’s defense and intelligence business, I work closely with my teams to support the mission at hand, from acquisitions and logistics to training and policy implementation.
Being a former high school science teacher serves me well now. It did wonders for my patience and presentation skills.
Nicole Funk is a leader in Booz Allen’s defense and intelligence business with a focus on Navy acquisition and logistics clients.
Her prior leadership included roles in support of the firm’s Army business to include headquarters operations and its select commands, balancing mission demands with available resources. She also led the firm’s chemical, biological, and nuclear defense efforts and the Army acquisition and logistics business. Nicole serves as the partner sponsor for Booz Allen’s Sciences Functional Community.
In addition to these leadership roles, Nicole serves as an executive board member for the Greater Harford (Maryland) Committee, and is Booz Allen’s partner advocate for Women in Defense. Today she is the Vice Chairperson of the Maryland Business Roundtable for STEM Education.
Following her first 11 years with the firm, Nicole briefly left Booz Allen to broaden her expertise in her chosen field. She returned in 2005. Her past experiences include serving as a science teacher in Maryland, and as a senior program manager at Northrop Grumman IT, where she led the Research, Development, and Engineering Command and Integration Support Services programs.
Nicole holds a B.S. in biology from Frostburg State University, an M.S. in biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University, and a business strategy certification from the Round Table Group.
Why are you passionate about the work you do at Booz Allen? I get to work closely with passionate people working on incredible missions to help our military. I’m fortunate. We work on real-world challenges every day that really make an enduring difference.
How do you help your clients prepare for the future? I really listen to our clients to understand what their pain points are. My team and I do our homework to understand the situations our clients are in, so that we can bring them multiple capabilities to map out workable solutions. The is bringing in our amazing talent from across the Firm, multiple capabilities.
How are you working to build the next generation of engineers? As a country, we don’t have enough STEM experts graduating through our school systems and going into STEM fields. Our country is going to need them. And certainly, Booz Allen is going to need them. I work with the Maryland Business Roundtable for STEM Education to encourage kids to take the higher levels of high school math and science. That way, when they go to college, they have the option to go into STEM-related fields.
What are the three most pressing needs in the defense industry? Modernization is the first. How do we modernize our equipment with such tight budget constraints? Secondly, the enemy threat is constantly changing. How do we work with our allies to adapt to emerging threats? Finally, there’s the readiness problem. How do we figure out the ideal end strength for our army and our military so they’re ready for whatever threat they might face?
What are your three tips for managing and motivating your people? Bring your best, most positive self to work. Put your best foot forward. Two, we’re all facing different challenges in life, so get to know your people. Get to know the whole person. And three, be transparent and genuine.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? Figure out how you work best and then be transparent about it. Everyone has their own battle rhythm. Don’t keep it a secret or hide it. I’m a morning person; I do my best work early in the day. My team knows this about me.
What advice would you give yourself as a young professional? Not to worry so much. I’m a born worrier.
What are you nostalgic for? Growing up, we used to spend a week or so at a cabin during summer vacation. We had to walk to get our drinking water. We had a fire pit. There was no email, no phones, no TV. Not even a radio. We could just be kids—climbing trees, eating berries, swimming in the lake. There was no technology. I’m nostalgic for that time.
What’s something not many people know about you? I love naps. If I could take a nap every day, I would.
Who fascinates you? The Pope.
What’s been your biggest accomplishment so far? The fact that I have two teenagers and they’re happy.
What can we do to be happier? Laugh at ourselves. Sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself and not take everything so seriously.