Booz Allen Chief Financial Officer Lloyd Howell Jr. recently held a roundtable in Midtown Manhattan with college students participating in the Business Today 44th International Conference. During the event he offered the following career advice for those entering the workforce:
Develop Your Critical Thinking Skills. As an employer I look for critical thinking skills, judgment, and decision making. Much of what we deal with is anything but structured. The ability to look at a complex problem from many angles and then make a decision based on judgment and experience is an important skill. I learned it from a mentor, from working alongside a very successful executive, and asking questions.
Learn Continuously. Booz Allen is a learning organization. We emphasize development and training. That leads to the ability to constantly learn new crafts, new areas, how to help new clients. People who are drawn to consulting often can’t quite figure out exactly what they want to do at first. Continuous learning gives you the opportunity and platform to try different things. I always enjoy learning something new, and that inquisitiveness has certainly helped me in my career.
Be Positive. Be positive, principled, proactive, and productive. Work gravitates to those who enter the workforce with a positive disposition. People gravitate to them, they’re invited onto engagements, and to be involved. These are people who raise their hand often, who are team-oriented. It comes across powerfully.
Learn About Yourself. Appreciate that you are still learning about yourself. Early in my career, all I knew for certain was that I wanted to be an engineer, so I majored in electrical engineering. I had no idea what came next. I was either going into investment banking, consulting, or working in a traditional engineering capacity as an R&D analyst. I decided based upon the recommendation of a good friend. That’s how I got into Booz Allen. Being open to the most random advice and ideas will help you learn about yourself.