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I'm fascinated by navigation. It makes sense, then, that a large part of my work helps members of the intelligence community find their footing in our fast-evolving world.
We help them think about what’s next, through programs that apply systems engineering, integration, and development to help clients better visualize where they are in relation to threats.
A lot of clients are caught up in the tyranny of the urgent, so helping them think beyond that is how I help them prepare for the future.
Chantilly-based Senior Vice President Steven DelBusso leads a portfolio of National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and National Geospatial Agency (NGA) programs. His team provides systems engineering, integration, and development across multiple program offices and contracts.
Steven has more than 30 years of experience working in the intelligence community. Prior to joining Booz Allen, Steven was the vice president of national systems integration for Lockheed Martin Information Systems and Global Service where he managed more than 1,000 employees and 12 programs.
Throughout his career, Steven held positions of increasing responsibility in systems engineering, space systems development, and operations support for national space programs. He’s also supported revolutionary space systems supporting national and Department of Defense Intelligence communities.
Steven earned a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan in 1982, and an M.S. in engineering science, with emphasis in electrical engineering, from Pennsylvania State University in 1990.
Why are you passionate about what you do? I’m passionate because our work helps people. Especially in today’s world of interconnectivity, work that we do has implications for our people, our country, and our world.
What attracted you to Booz Allen? The people, the trust, and the relationships. I was looking for something different. This was the next chapter in my career, and I really was selective. Booz Allen values diversity in thought and opinion, which was refreshing to me.
Do you think that helps you think differently? Absolutely. It inspires a richer dialogue. It’s been really good because everybody has different strengths and weaknesses, and everybody brings something slightly different to the table.
What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a pilot. I’ve always had an interest in aviation. My first real job was at a small airport where they primarily taught people how to fly. It was there that I learned how to fly as well.
What was your job at the airport? I was what they call a line boy. I ran the office—rented out the airplanes, ran the gas pumps, and helped move the airplanes around.
Do you still fly? I have a license, but I haven’t flown in a couple of years. I feel like it’s the thing I will preserve until I have more time. Maybe as a retirement hobby it will flourish more.
What are the most pressing needs in your industry today? Data. Mastering the data is one thing, but using it in a way that allows us to make systems and applications work better together—work more holistically—is key.
What are the three biggest untapped opportunities in your industry? Analytics, connectivity, and integration or interoperability. Our ability to stay ahead and be the leader is going to depend on our ability to do those three things.
What is the best business advice you’ve gotten in your career? Find good leaders to follow. Surround yourself with good people. That’s what’s been key for me.
What advice would you give yourself as a young professional? Be ambitious. Don’t wait for someone to ask you for something. Lean out. Believe what you believe in, and do what you think is right.
What are the keys for motivating your people? Respect, reward, and celebrate.
What is one thing you always have with you? I always have a pencil, but I don’t often use it. As an engineer, you’ve got to have a pencil. That’s what an engineer has, right?
What’s the most influential book that you’ve read? There’s a variety of books that I find very influential—books about astrophysical or spiritual kinds of things, like Journey of Souls: Case Studies of Life Between Lives. For me, it’s about thinking through the spiritual dimension of who we are, what we do, and why we do it.
What is an idea or an invention that you wish you’d thought of? GPS, or moving maps. I’ve always been interested in maps. When I was in high school and early college, I liked creating hand isotropic maps. I always wanted there to be an automatic way to be able to view maps, and then came GPS. I said, “I should have thought of that!”
What’s an obsolete item you can’t get rid of? Timepieces, like early watches or compasses.
What would you say is your strongest character trait? Competitiveness. I’m very competitive, but not in an overt way. I’m competitive with myself. I always want to do something better or faster.