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For 20 consecutive years, Working Mother magazine recognized Booz Allen as one of 100 Best Companies. The publication chooses winners based on how they measure up against a range of factors important to working moms, including expanded parental leave, fertility benefits, flexible workplaces, and more.
As one of the 100 Best Companies, Booz Allen has the honor of naming a Working Mother of the Year award recipient. The story of Booz Allen’s 2018 Working Mother of the Year, telecommunications engineer Marie Risser, illustrates why Booz Allen continues to be recognized as a top firm for working mothers.
Marie has worked at Booz Allen for almost two decades, and spent 18 of those years working remotely—all while rising through the ranks, leading teams, and raising three children.
“My relationship with Booz Allen is completely predicated on the fact that they allowed me to put my family first. It’s reassuring to know that the choice I made is not a concession on their part, but something to be celebrated.”
- Marie Risser, Booz Allen's 2018 Working Mother of the Year
Flashback to the year 2000: After only 15 months with the firm, Marie needed to move to Hershey, PA. She wasn’t ready to leave Booz Allen, so she approached her leadership team with a new idea in mind—working remotely.
At the time, “telework” was a foreign concept. Remote work technology consisted of fax machines, snail mail, and flip phones with limited texting capabilities. Despite these obstacles, Marie drafted a proposal to convince her leadership team about the benefits of working remotely. They were skeptical—but she won them over.
Along the way, she helped the firm experiment with a variety of new technologies to see what worked best. As a wireless communications expert, she was the perfect person to do so.
“The advent and the ability to employ all the teleworking tools has been amazing,” Marie said. “The ability to [video chat with] people, the ability to text people, the ability to take a picture of something, has been a huge boon to teleworking.”
Marie's experience—and those of other remote employees—helped Booz Allen mature its telework capabilities. The firm now relies on tools like Mobile Device Management (MDM), Mobile Access Management (MAM), and a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to make telework efficient and effective.
Despite working in a different location than her teammates, Marie said she wasn’t “held back from leadership opportunities because of it.” She is now a senior lead technologist who isn’t just contributing to wireless communications projects but is leading them.
For Marie, it wasn’t enough to enjoy her own success—she wanted to make telework opportunities accessible to other employees.
“I probably take a phone call every week of a new individual who’s trying to pilot something in their own life and make it successful,” Marie says.
This naturally led to Marie banding together with other remote work pioneers to create Booz Allen’s FlexWork Forum, which provides a support network for employees who work non-traditional schedules or who work remotely.
Marie's trial and error paved the way for future teleworkers—and in the almost 20 years since, working remotely has become an integral part of Booz Allen’s culture.
While progressing in her career and making a difference for others, Marie also became a mother—to twins in 2003 and to a son in 2006. She said telework improved her work-life balance dramatically. Working remotely allowed her to write client deliverables during late-night feedings and to be present for her children’s important milestones.
At times in her career, Marie also needed to scale back to part-time or hourly work due to life circumstances.
“The firm’s flexibility in that allowed me to retain my job, honestly,” she said. “My colleagues, my teammates, and my clients were flexible and
But she saw that the benefits of working at Booz Allen extend beyond just telework and flexible schedules.
“Booz Allen policies for parents
For example, through PowerUP—the firm’s wellness program—Marie earned a $1,000 Wellness Scholarship in 2017 to dedicate to her relationship with her kids.
In her nearly 20 years at Booz Allen, Marie created worlds of possibility for countless colleagues. Thanks to her and other telework pioneers, today’s working mothers have more flexibility than ever before.
When asked what the Working Mother of the Year award meant to her, Marie answered honestly—“My relationship with Booz Allen is completely predicated on the fact that they allowed me to put my family first. It’s reassuring to know that the choice I made is not a concession on their part, but something to be celebrated.”
Read Marie's profile in Working Mother Magazine here.