Demystifying Defense: The Truth Behind 4 Common Myths

Consulting with Military
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Hillary: Good afternoon and welcome to today’s session, Demystifying Defense, for our recruits. I’m your host, Hillary Komma, and I lead marketing for our Booz Allen global defense sector. I’ve been here for about 20 years, and I’ve come to learn the ins and outs of this business, and I’m joined here today with colleagues who’ve worked here many years to support many missions, and we’re really excited to talk to you about the roles that we have and the opportunities that exist in our Booz Allen defense sector.

Before we jump in so I can introduce you to my colleagues who are in the line, let’s just go through our agenda for what you can expect today.

In a few minutes, I’m going to introduce you to our speakers for today, our panelists who support clients across our global defense business. I’ll then introduce you to Booz Allen, a little bit about the company and the missions that we support. Then, we’ll jump into a panel discussion. I have some questions to introduce you to the types of defense work we do today, opportunities that we might have, and we’ll end with some fact and fiction, some myths, around the defense environment. Finally, I’ll turn it over to my colleague from our recruiting team, Heather Holdaway, who’s going to walk you through the candidate journey. And then we’re really open for questions and answers that you may have about Booz Allen, the candidate experience, and the work we do in our defense environment.

So, with that, let’s jump into introductions. I want to let each of our panelists introduce themselves and share a little fun fact about themselves, so for my colleagues Ki, Jason, Laura, and Joe, can you share a little bit about how long you’ve been here, what you do day to day, and a fun fact, maybe your favorite Thanksgiving food? Ki, let’s start with you.

Ki: Sure, thanks, Hillary. Since we’re a global enterprise, I’m not sure where people are dialing in from, so good morning, good afternoon, or good evening. My name is Ki Lee, and I, like Hillary, have been here for just over 20 years. It’s been quite a journey. I’ve had the opportunity for different missions and have had very different roles across the institution. Currently, I’m the CTO of our global defense sector. In terms of a fun fact, I’ll tell you what I don’t like. For those Koreans and Korean Americans out there, I don’t like kimchi with turkey and all that. I know that some people do that. I’m not for that. One of my “Covid Buys” was a pellet smoker, and I will say that one of my favorite foods now is spatchcock turkey.

Hillary: Sounds great. With that, let’s move over to Jason. Jason, we’ll let you introduce yourself.

Jason: Jason Myers here, tech director. I have the opportunity to wear a couple different hats. On one front, I’m tech director for our product that you can kind of see behind me called “District Defend,” which we’ll talk about a little bit, as well as helping lead some of our global defense initiatives within the CTO office. I’ve been here for coming up on 16 years. For me, when it comes to Thanksgiving, there really just isn’t a Thanksgiving without mac and cheese. You can certainly go with the high-end. I will also say that I am a “blue box blues” original Kraft person, so don’t knock it.

Hillary: Love it. So, we have turkey, we have Kraft mac and cheese. Laura, over to you to introduce yourself and share your favorite Thanksgiving treats.

Laura: Thanks, Hillary. I’m Laura Croft. I’m the chief scientist leading execution as well as some of our captures in our digital battlespace account. I’ve been here almost nine years, coming up on that in a month. I’m going to go with gravy—I feel like it heightens everything on the plate, the turkey, the stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, really just get it everywhere and make it all even more delicious.

Hillary: Love it. Bringing it all together. Let’s round out our panelists. Joe, over to you to introduce yourself.

Joe: Thanks. Joe Reck. I’ve been at Booz Allen for just three years, after 24 years of active-duty service in the Navy. I still support the Navy through Booz Allen, specifically on the unmanned maritime vehicles—I think we’ll talk a little more about that later. My pick for this—all that stuff is great, but it’s all just a preamble to what’s important, which is the dessert. It’s all about the dessert. It’s got to be the dessert. Everything else is fantastic, but that’s the real showstopper.

Hillary: Love it. I’m going to round it out and say my favorite is homemade ice cream which goes with the dessert. I feel like if you have apple pie, you need some homemade ice cream to go on top, so that’s my project for the weekend. With that introduction to our panelists, let’s jump into the details.

Today’s conversation is on demystifying defense, and I imagine that some of our viewers today might never have supported a defense mission. Maybe you’re supporting a civilian mission today. Maybe you don’t work in the government technology space. So, I want to compare how the defense mission compares to industry a bit, maybe the tech industry. Ki is our chief technology officer in defense. Do you want to give some examples of how you see defense missions aligning to something like the tech industry?

Ki: Yea, I’m super excited about this because I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time. I don’t think it’s just outside of the firm. I think it’s actually even our staff inside the firm, to be frank. We are doing some amazing things, solving the most challenging problems under extreme conditions and constraints, and so I wanted to give some examples, as I’ve thought about it, to kind of demystify defense.

When you think about autonomy, you think Tesla. Autonomous cars—it's emerging, everybody’s getting excited about that. But if you take a look at what the Navy, for example, is doing around autonomy, the conditions and the environments are so much more different. Joe can go into more details on this, but think about driving a car on a road. You’ve got lanes, there’s rules for driving on the road that you can code and abide by. From an autonomous perspective in the Naval space—subsurface, surface, air, space—that domain is uncharted. There are no constraints, and, by the way, the conditions of doing autonomous capabilities undersea where there’s little to no calm, further exacerbates that. When you think about what the Navy’s been doing for seven plus years in innovating around autonomy, autonomy is something that is emerging, and the Navy’s doing some amazing things.

For the second example, I’ll call out the Air Force Distributed Common Ground System. It’s a weapons system that supports our warfighters every day, globally. If you think about what they do, the data that they capture, and the data that they share across the entire globe at near-real time to support mission, and align that to, let’s say that Amazon or any other cloud service provider provides, the level of complexity and the scale, the real-time nature of some of this mission-system data and the combat missions that they support, it’s pretty amazing.

The last example I’ll use is, I actually try to limit my social networking experience, but I know a lot of folks are out there, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, it’s pretty amazing, what social media is doing. At the end of the day, the data that they’re collecting, the processes they’re doing, the AI they’re generating is actually pretty straightforward compared to what our military intelligence community supports. If you think about what’s going on in Ukraine today, as a real-life example that our colleagues are supporting, think about the data that they’re actually collecting, the variety of data, the volume of data. And think about the fact that they don’t know what questions are going to have to be asked. It's such an asymmetric threat out there today that the questions that are being asked are constantly changing and evolving. So, again, the complexities and the conditions of what our DOD warfighters support today are far more complex, in my opinion, and need additional smarts to help mission aligned to industry capabilities.

Hillary: Thanks, Ki. It’s just exciting. To me, I’m somebody who’s been here a long time but really sees the potential of what tech can bring to the Department of Defense. I’m just excited by what’s happening and the opportunities we have ahead of us.

With that, I know lots of our colleagues on the line have worked at Booz Allen for a number of years and bring lots of collective experiences. I want to share with our viewers perhaps your favorite or most memorable project, something you could share that perhaps people don’t know about what Booz Allen does today for the Department of Defense.

So, Joe, I know Ki mentioned your work with autonomous vehicles. Do you want to talk a bit about what you do today with uncrewed vehicles?

Joe: Yes, I’d love to. Thank you. As I mentioned in the intro, I was 24 years a submarine sailor and working with these systems on the other side, in uniform, and I came right from uniform into working with this. The challenge—all those things that Ki listed with some more details—is that a lot of these are brand new, they’re prototype, they’re one-of-a-kind. Training doesn’t exist for it, the tactics don’t exist for it, how to use them, how to integrate things with them, how to tie in sensors, how we’re really going to program. The warfighter is figuring that out on the fly sometimes, sometimes even before deploy, and that was one of my big frustrations in uniform is you keep getting the latest and greatest toys, but not really sure how to use them and how to integrate them all into one space. Part of the reason that I chose to join the Booz Allen team is, in the interview process, laying out these problems, and considering how you’d like to work on these problems on the other side, which is conveniently exactly what I got to do. I retired, I didn’t take any vacation time off (my wife will roll her eyes at that), but I went right into the job supporting the Navy’s program office, in this case PMS406, that’s in charge of the autonomy and delivering these systems, so now, I got to work as the UUV and USV trainer. I’m not teaching the systems, but I’m helping to establish the program that allows for a pipeline school, how we’re going to train the future warfighters on how AI and ML is going to work and integrate, how we’re going to develop tactics and procedures that are going to be used by all these warfighters. It’s really special for me being tied to that mission since it was something I was going through and suffering. And now those same folks that I worked with who are still there are benefitting from the work that I get to do through Booz Allen because Booz Allen is very tied to supporting the warfighter. Something very special about it is they get guys like me who are old uniform guys and they pair us with super smart guys who are brand new that come in with cutting-edge education, and we solve these problems together. It’s a really, really special place for guys like me to be in to work with on the exact problems that we were going through in uniform.

Hillary: I love that intersection of mission and technology. To your point, almost 30% of our workforce are veterans who really understand the mission and how we pair that with technology is absolutely what we’re proud to be doing.

Laura, I know you bring a different background, and you work on the intelligence surveillance reconnaissance mission. Can you share how your background is being put to good work here at Booz Allen?

Laura: Sure. I’ve really enjoyed getting to use the signal and image processing skills that I developed while I was getting my PhD at the time for medical imaging applications, and now I apply them to analyzing multimedia for defense intelligence clients. For example, running biometric identification techniques. Similar to what Ki was talking about earlier, a lot of the existing solutions that are available in the commercial or open-source space are made for more idealized and controlled scenarios. We have to figure out—we have to identify, augment, or develop the right solutions that will work for our clients’ data and will work for our operational mission which is fairly unconstrained and has unique challenges.

It’s been really gratifying to see how fast we can move at Booz Allen. I get paid to go to conferences and learn about cool new techniques, play with it, come up with a group of concepts, and then not long later, we’re getting to see how it’s used in the operational space.

Hillary: That’s exciting. I learn something new every day. Laura, I didn’t realize your background was in medical. That’s an awesome story about how to take that type of experience and apply it in this world.

Jason, over to you. You’ve worked a lot on our products. Can you share a little bit about our products and solutions for the Defense Department?

Jason: One of the things I like to reiterate is that at Booz Allen, you can create your own journey. You’ve got the opportunity to take what you’re passionate about and make it your career and pivot when it comes time. Mine really is this intersection helping to support our clients and realizing there was more there that I could do. It started when I was actually supporting the president’s daily briefing as well as the Oval Office of the Future. So getting to go into the Oval Office. At the time, the most advanced technology in there is the phone. It was, how do we craft out, how do we do intelligence and presentations to senior leaders at a truly innovative level, as well as the other hat that I got to wear, was getting paid by the government to go break into their devices. So, putting those two intersections together, realizing here are the attack vectors that nation-state actors are really trying to take against us. And at the same time, here’s how senior leaders and others across the government need to use mobility in classified communications, and at that time, then being able to go and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got an idea about how to solve this problem. Then, from there, being able to build a product. A lot of people think of Booz Allen as kind of a labor-based business, but one of the really great parts is our desire to truly be proactive, to put forward those investments and create the products ahead of demand so that we can scale and help the government grow faster.

Hillary: I love the point about build your own adventure and build your own career. I think between us I counted over 60 years of Booz Allen experience, and each of us have had a really different journey here, different projects, different experiences, different types of clients, and that’s what has kept all of us here for so long—that opportunity and the different types of work that we could do.

For those that work not with the military today, I know there’s a lot of mystique around defense, and maybe some myths, so what we talked about doing was playing a little “fact or fiction.” I’m going to ask some things that I’ve heard or that I’ve heard our candidates ask us around the Defense Department and our work there, and then we’ll turn it over to our colleagues to share whether it’s fact or fiction.

First question: The government mission lags 10 to 20 years behind the commercial sector. Fact or fiction?

I see a lot of “fiction.” Jason, do you want to talk a little bit about how the government is staying ahead and staying at least at pace with the commercial sector?

Jason: Sure, I think there’s a couple of pieces to unfold here. There’s the actual innovation itself, and sometimes, there’s the adoption. I think it’s important to create that delineation because the government is just like any large organization. Adoption is hard. You’ve got hundreds of thousands of users across very disparate global locations that need to have reliability and security, so sometimes adoption can be slow. However, to say that that is the approach toward innovation is truly fictional. When you look at a lot of this, the other piece to unfold is really the fact that some of the coolest things we do are very highly classified, and so we don’t get to maybe publicize the work and the mission impact that some of these things are making. With that in mind, I also think that the government’s doing a lot to really bring the commercial technologies to bear faster as well...initiatives around making OTAs and trying to make sure there is not this very large kind of acquisition process that holds things up. We’re really trying to be more agile about how we get innovation in. At the end of the day, they’re working very tightly with us, with our vendor partners, with the rest of industry, and not just sitting and trying to be a fast follower, but actually driving things and pushing requirements of ‘here’s where we need to take this into the future’ as well as ‘how do we not only use this information to safeguard and defend our users’ but also, ‘how do we take these innovations and deploy them back out in the commercial sector so that we can safeguard our nation?’

Hillary: Thanks, Jason. Great point. Alright, next fact or fiction. It all requires a security clearance. You don’t have a clearance; you can’t do the work. Fact or fiction?

Laura, I know you had a career that did not start in national security. You have a clearance now. Can you talk a little bit about your journey of starting without a clearance and what that looked like?

Laura: Sure, when I was first hired at Booz Allen, I didn’t have any clearances at all, but a lot of times, the work that we’re doing—the actual technology development—is unclassified and the details around the client, the mission, why are you doing certain things, that part is classified. As I became more of a leader and manager, I started obtaining security clearances because it became more important that I needed to make sure that what my team was developing was really hitting the mark in that critical mission need. From my experience, at least, the work that we were doing in and of itself was innovative, challenging, and fun enough, and then when I got to learn about the client and the mission, that just became the icing on the cake to feel the warm and fuzzies that what I’m doing is for a really good cause.

Hillary: I love it. Alright, next fact or fiction. There isn’t any flexibility, and you need to go into the office every day.

Joe, I know you work out in Seattle and may not be in the office every day. Do you want to take this one?

Joe: Sure, I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest—Go Seattle Mariners—but my client is in Washington, DC, so 99% of my work is remotely delivered at home. There are occasional classified meetings that I go into the base for, but four out of five days, I am in my home office, and I choose to go in or need to per the client’s discretion. That’s not true for everybody—there are certain positions that require it, but there’s a lot of flexibility. We have team members on the same team that I’m on that are located in Texas and Idaho that work for the same client. It is case by case basis, but there is a lot of flexibility, especially in the new norm.

Hillary: Thank you. Last fact or fiction: It’s monotonous and boring and the same every day. Ki, do you want to take this one?

Ki: Yes, a couple of things. Hillary said something that resonates with me: I learn something new every day. That’s true. I actually learn something new every day. I’m just an intellectually curious guy, and I ask a lot of questions, and my team knows that. I want to learn, and we cover such a breadth of it. I think the other thing that hopefully everyone heard was across all the panelists—Joe, Laura, Jason—passion for mission. It can’t be monotonous and boring when you’re focusing on the mission. I’ve had the opportunity to support the counter-drug, the counter-terrorism, the counter-IAD, the command and control, the ISR space missions over my 20 years. I will say when our team is focused on that mission, I’ve had to kick people out of the office because they needed sleep. When we think about where we’re going in the future and where we are today, I know everyone thinks about kinetic effect and so forth, but one of the areas that I think there are tremendous opportunities for us for is all around data. I believe that data is the future of war and time is a weapon, and so when you think about even the non-kinetic aspects that we generally talk about (mission operations and logistics in a contested environment), those are all as critical as the kinetic effects. You all are seeing that being played out today in Ukraine. I’ll leave you with this. I know some of my colleagues know this, but I’ve watched a lot of Netflix over my past couple of years, and I love history. Go watch World War II in color. It gives you a perspective on World War II that I never knew. I think it provides you with context of the importance of some of the non-kinetic and logistic aspects I just talked about.

Hillary: Love it. I haven’t watched that myself, so, Ki, I’m adding that to my Netflix list. Winter is coming, so I’ll be inside watching some movies.

So let me get back to just a bit before we open it up to some audience questions. If you have one, feel free to pop it into Vbrick. As we tee those up, just a little more background on Booz Allen.

Booz Allen’s been around for about 100 years. We started as a management consulting company, but that’s not where we are today.  As you heard today, we’re working on some of the hottest, cutting-edge technologies, and we’ve grown. This slide says we have 29,000 employees. As of October 8, when we had our investor call last week, we are officially over 30,000 employees.

The defense business that we’re representing today is about half of that. As we talked about with Joe, about 29% of our colleagues—about one third—are veterans. As you heard us all talk about, what is unique and special about Booz Allen is that combination of mission for people like Joe who have been in the mission, and technology, so people like Ki and Laura who are bringing the technology experience to bear.

This provides a little background on Booz Allen. This is where we are in the U.S. Today, we are at 400 different locations across the world, actually. You’ll see there we have a large team supporting in the Indo-Pacific region, from Japan to Korea to Hawaii to Guam. We also have a very large team, as Ki talked about at the front end, around 600 of our colleagues today, supporting Europe and the mission with Ukraine today. And then, bases across the U.S.: over 17 of our offices have more than 200 people. It doesn’t matter whether you sit in Washington, DC—that's probably another myth that it’s a DC-based company—really are all over the world.

With that, let’s pop ahead to talk a little bit about the training and upskilling. This is one of the amazing opportunities that we have at Booz Allen. We have an incredible training and upskilling program to keep our skills fresh. I think Laura mentioned, ‘I get paid to go to conferences and learn about what is happening in technology.’ I think one of the things that makes our team so unique is the intellectual curiosity, our desire to continue to upskill ourselves, and we have a lot of programs to continue to help our colleagues. We have our flexible education, we call that FlexEd, that helps—whether it’s a conference, a graduate certificate, a graduate degree, you have dollars every year to be able to support that. I myself finished my graduate degree while I was here at Booz Allen through the FlexEd program. We have access to things like Degreed and Udemy that provide on-demand access to all sorts of certifications and prep courses, boot camps for all sorts of technology pieces. And then Expert’s Program and our Tech Excellence Program help create cohorts of technical experts. What I would say is we love to hire people who are deeply intellectually curious, who are deeply committed to bettering themselves. So, whether you are a mission expert who wants to get really smart on technology, or you’re a technology expert who may want to get a little deeper on mission and how the technology will support the mission, there are opportunities for that here at Booz Allen. That’s a really exciting benefit that we offer. With that, let me turn it over to Heather to talk just a bit about our candidate journey. If you have questions that pop up, pop them into the question box, and once Heather walks through our candidate journey from a recruiter’s perspective, I’ll be teeing up some of those questions to our panelists.

Heather: Thanks, Hillary. Our recruiting approach at Booz Allen is very candidate-centric. We take the time to listen to feedback from our candidates. What has been shared by our candidates is the importance of transparency and relationships. As such, we know you want to know what to expect and when to expect the information as you begin the recruitment journey.  This candidate experience journey map is a visualization of who you will meet and when you will meet them in the process. We value the time you take to learn more about us and want to ensure that we provide a consistent, transparent, and communicative experience as you move through every stage of recruiting. More details about our candidate experience are on the Candidate Resources section of our Careers pages at You’ll also find many more resources about the application process, including frequently asked questions, benefits, and interviewing tips on our Careers site as well.

Hillary: A little plug as somebody who sits on the marketing team. If you’re not already following, make sure to follow us on our social channels. I’m particularly going to call out the LifeatBooz channel on Twitter that is managed by our recruiting team, and they are constantly sharing what the culture at Booz Allen is, a little bit more about the people behind Booz Allen. I also recommend our Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook. These are great places to follow us and learn a bit more about our culture.

We’ve been getting a handful of questions in. I’m going to start with our first question which has to do with the application of logistics and transportation for some of our data collection projects. Ki, I’m going to tee this up. What part does logistics and transportation data play into your data collection projects? I am a background in transportation, deployment, and strategic planning. How might this fit into your portfolio?

Ki: It’s extremely relevant. If you think about logistics (by the way, I’m not a logistician but we have experts), transportations, it’s critical. We’re doing some prototypes right now that we demoed to clients. For example, in fuel logistics in INDOPAYCOM, which is pretty important. Transportation, you overlay the data of the fuel consumption rate, you overlay data around the weather patterns—you overlay all of that to actually create models so you can simulate them to create a resilience around logistics. That’s just an example of some of the difficult challenges we’re trying to help the government within contested environments. Hopefully I answered that question.

Hillary: Thanks, Ki. I really appreciate that. Next question that’s come in: I have subject matter expertise around strategic planning, but I don’t necessarily have all the tech skills. Is that a disadvantage in terms of opportunities? And how should I think about upskilling? Jason, do you want to take that on for the team?

Jason: In full disclosure, I actually, through a variety of circumstances in life, ended up having a BS in management. Other than the basic visual basic and Java in college, there really wasn’t much as far as a true technical background educationally that I came into Booz Allen having. I really wanted to learn, I had an analytic mindset, and I really put myself into the shoes of my customers. Through the excellent people that we have at Booz Allen, I’ve been able to learn the technology as part of my demand experience. I’ve been able to work with insanely talented engineers who are fortunately smart enough to rub off on me. It’s all culminated in the fact that I’ve actually got five different patents around technology innovations plus expertise and again, the surrounding structure that we have at Booz Allen.

Hillary: Thanks, Jason. Great response, and as a non-technical person myself, I think it’s really important to be open and curious about how technology and mission and planning fit together. Next question that’s come in: What does the hiring timeline look like and how early should I think about applying to Booz Allen? Heather, I’m going to pass it to you as our resident recruiter for the team.

Heather: Absolutely, thanks, Hillary. I always say, ‘Apply early. Apply often. Apply. Apply. Apply.’ We have opportunities that may be contingent on award that may be being advertised for. We have opportunities that are capability-building, where our contracts may be able to hold a little bit and wait for your transition date. Getting your application in is the most important part. I always recommend applying as soon as possible, getting your resume viewed by the recruiters, and having that conversation around the timeline. Even if it is further in the future and maybe it isn’t a perfect fit for the role you applied to, it will give our recruiters an opportunity to have your resume in hand when they have the perfect opportunity and timing-wise for that to work out for you.

Hillary: Perfect. Thanks, Heather. Next question for all of our panelists. Can you talk about one single skill that separates a great candidate from a good candidate seeking a role at Booz Allen? We have four hiring managers, so I’m going to ask all of them. Laura, let me start with you: a skill or area that you would say is particularly above the rest?

Laura: I don’t know the best way to word this. Somebody, when they’re explaining their experience and talking through something on their resume that they can look back and say what they would do differently—that self-evaluation, always wanting to be better. You know more than you did when you did that thing six months ago, so what would you do differently? I really like to hear that from candidates—that they love to learn.

Hillary: Awesome. Joe, I’m going to go over to you next.

Joe: Thanks. The question that I really like to ask is ‘Explain to me a complex problem that you worked on as a team and what you came through with it.’  I want to hear problem solving. I want to hear how you think about things critically and whether you came to a solution or not. Even if you didn’t, that’s okay. You learn from those mistakes as well. I like to hear the desire to problem-solve and your pathway to get to what you think is a solution.

Hillary: Awesome. Jason, over to you.

Jason: For me, it’s actually speaking your mind. We’re hiring folks because we trust them and believe in them. We want them to have a voice in the problem-solving, in the overall direction of the company, and so it’s really as you have an idea, as you have a concern, speaking up and participating and making sure that you are helping others learn from your perspective. Even from a leadership perspective, we really want to make sure we have a lot of multifaceted conversations. Strong leaders can’t make those decisions all on their own. They need the voice of all of our people to make sure that they’re representing our client interests the best and representing our workforce. So—speaking up.

Hillary: Ki, I’m going to give you the last word on this one. A single skill that you’re looking for in a candidate.

Ki: I’m not going to answer that question directly, but I’m going to answer it. I look for three things. First, intellectually curious. Like Jason, I didn’t start my journey as a software or technologist. I was a mechanical engineer. This is the consulting industry. If you’re intellectually curious, consulting is great. Second is aptitude. I think Laura said that as long as you have the aptitude to learn, that’s fine. Again, that’s what consulting is. And the third one is teamwork.  Booz Allen, culturally, is a social network. The word that I heard from day one that I hear 20 years later is collegiality. Teamwork is critical. The fact is that we partner with our clients, so it’s important for how we actually support the mission and our clients. I didn’t answer it directly, Hillary, but those are three things I look for when I interview candidates.

Hillary: Perfect. Thanks, Ki. We did have a set of questions just in case no questions came in, but I swear I didn’t make this one up. I want to put this out there that somebody asked, which I love. One of the things that interests me most about Booz Allen is that the company was recently named “Most Ethical.” If you’re not following along, Booz Allen was recently named a Top Ethical Company by Ethisphere. How did the company achieve this with such a large workforce? I’m going to take this question myself. I got to help along the journey, and it’s something I feel very passionately about.

About five years ago, we went on a journey to redefine what our purpose and values were as a company. We had a relatively new CEO Horacio Rozanski, and he pulled together a leadership team, and we went through a series of workshops to understand what do we hold most dear as an institution? Over about a year process, we built out what we call our Purpose and Values. Our purpose as a company is to empower people to change the world, and there’s five values associated with that. You’ll find them, if you look at Booz Allen, it is loud and proud all over the website. Once the company defined that as a North Star as to what our purpose was and what we hold strong as our values, things like ferocious integrity, passionate service, collective ingenuity, once we really defined those, at some level, how we think about ethics fell down from that. If you all agree on what the North Star of the company is and what the values that you all hold collectively, everything from the awards that we give, to the work that we pursue, to the most senior decisions that we make in this company, they all fall from that purpose and those values. For us, defining that as the North Star was really what has driven so much of where the company has been. We’ve always been an ethical company, but, for me, that journey has been really important.

I’m going to go to Laura for our next question because I think this fits in. You’re working on digital battlespace, which is one of our cutting-edge activities. The question is: Thanks for hosting the defense. Is the defense sector at Booz Allen targeting experienced hires or those who are new or moldable? I recently completed my service in the Army with drones as a platoon leader, and now I’m in graduate school. How should I remain competitive with this type of a background? Laura, I know our digital battlespace is working on these technologies. Do you want to talk a little bit about that investment and what we’re working on?

Laura: The answer to the first part of the question about looking for experienced versus moldable, sometimes we have projects where we have a very specific need that needs to hit the ground running for a billable project for a client. In a lot of those cases, we’re looking for someone with the right experience to keep going. We have a lot of internal investments as well where we’re developing new capabilities and technologies that then we’re going to go and try to sell to many different clients, and that’s a great place for someone that’s moldable, especially since we might be looking for a unicorn if we were trying to hold out for the ‘perfect’ combination of these crazy things we want to do. In that case, I would usually strive to find someone who, just like Ki was talking about, has the aptitude to learn and grow and have that curiosity take them there. I love to see is that, and I love to hire that.

Hillary: Love that. Thanks, Laura. Next question is a little bit about onboarding. I’m going to go to Heather as our recruiter and someone who deals with a lot of our questions about onboarding. Are there mentors and advisors once get onboarded? What does the onboarding experience look like?

Heather: Absolutely. Every employee at Booz Allen, when you’re onboarded, is assigned to a career manager and a job leader. A career manager is often a leader within your supervisory organization that has probably been here for a while and knows the ins and outs within your team and externally, so they’re a really great guide for putting you in touch with the people that you need to speak with or give you the resources that you need to help and advance your career. They are somewhat of a mentor to us, and your job leaders are also, because they’re people who have been in your position and maybe work on the same contract as you, and they can help guide you in that regard. In addition to that, we have a lot of great mentorship opportunities. We’re really big on networking. In fact, our onboarding program itself is a full year. You do your orientation your first day, and then just about every three months, you have some additional activities, and one of those is all about networking yourself within the firm, learning how to make those connections, how to find those mentors. We do actually participate in what we call ‘mentor month,’ where we have great opportunities to make those connections outside of your team to find some mentors within the firm and some people with leadership experience that can help you on your career path.

Hillary: Awesome. Thanks so much, Heather. Jason, I’m going to come to you with this next question because I know you’ve worked in a lot of different parts of the firm, which is something that I really respect about your career. I’m mid-career, team leader with an advanced degree in research and healthcare. I love the Booz Allen culture and national defense’s passion. Booz Allen seems like such a big company. How can I find my fit? Jason, you had to find your fit multiple times, so how do you think about that?

Jason: I think one of the pieces is the ability to create your own career path. Sometimes that’s a widening career path, sometimes your priorities change, your life changes. So being able to navigate that is really easy at Booz Allen. It’s really being able to communicate openly with your career manager, with your job managers and express your desires. It’s certainly not something like, ‘Hey, tomorrow I want to do this.’ There is certainly a transitionary period, but I started Mil Sa Comm, and I started there because there was opportunity to travel the world and go to fantastic locations. Then, I said, ‘Hey, I want to go over to the intelligence community side.’ Then I sat in a SCIF, and I desired, ‘Hey, I want to go commercial and do international consulting.’  I worked with my career manager and said, ‘Here’s my plan. Here’s how long I’d like to go chase this aspiration and this new knowledge base and this is where I’m hoping to come back.’ I think the biggest piece about Booz Allen is that you have to be your own champion for your career, and Booz Allen lets you do that. We want you to communicate your expectations. We want to facilitate and support. We’ve been here for such a long time, we want to facilitate that. We don’t want you to treat this like just a job. We want you to be here for the long haul.

Hillary: Thanks, Jason. Ki, I’m going to send this next question to you because you were talking about tech companies at the beginning of today’s call. There are a multitude of tech companies who have announced hiring freezes and layoffs as a result of the current economic situation. Is Booz Allen experiencing similar types of effects?

Ki: No. We’re hiring. That’s the simple answer. The more detailed answer is I’m proud of Booz Allen. I’m proud of Booz Allen because if you take a look at the history, we’re consistent with our ethics and values, as Hillary said. If you take a look at all those various different downturns over my 20 years at Booz Allen, and there have been several, whether it’s a continuing resolution or whatnot, where other companies have let go of staff, we’ve doubled down and maintained investments that actually keep the staff. That something that we at Booz Allen have been very consistent with, that honestly, I don’t think we take enough credit for. I’m going to take credit for the firm on this one. No, we are not laying off or having any hiring freezes.

Hillary: Love it, Ki. Yes, we are having our session today because we are all about talent right now. Next one I’m going to pass to Joe as a veteran. Does Booz Allen have any programs for military members through SkillBridge? Heather, you may have things to add, but I’ll go to Joe first. Heather, if you have anything to add after Joe goes, we’ll pass it to you.

Joe: Sure thing. Heather, please keep me honest. The short answer is yes, SkillBridge is absolutely available. You need to work with your current command and with someone like Heather who will help you through that process. To go further than that, there are a ton of other things that are available for veterans transitioning from uniform to Booz Allen. Once you’re hired in, there’s a Transition Center of Excellence, which ties with our mentorship question earlier, specifically for veterans and spouses of veterans to get you indoctrinated and provide you a network within that network. I myself went through it and volunteered to be on the other side of it. It’s a fantastic group. There’s a ton of resources that are probably too long to list out in this meeting, but short answer is yes on SkillBridge and yes to probably every other thing for veterans wanting to join this team. Booz Allen loves their veterans. We want as many as we can get because we’ve got to marry that mission expertise with the technology, which is why you see the panel in front of you today.

Hillary: Heather, anything to add to Joe’s response?

Heather: The only thing I would add to that is we do work with Hiring Our Heroes as a fellowship program. Just like Joe said, speak with your current company commander and let them know what you’re interested in. They can put you in touch with our military transitioning recruiting team. We’ve got a lot of great POCs that they can put you in touch with.

Hillary: Awesome, thank you. Next question that comes in: Can you talk about Booz Allen’s success in delivering cloud solutions for government clients given the higher data security requirements? Have you had any success in partnership with AWS or Azure for the government cloud? Jason, I know you worked really closely with our partnerships team. I’m going to pass it over to you to talk about how we’re thinking about the government clouds.

Jason: I think first and foremost, when you think about Booz Allen’s mentality, we really focus on our core competencies and solving our clients’ mission. We’re not a bunch of salespeople. We really want to make sure that we’re having impactful successes within the customer spaces, and that means we don’t go after things alone. We find others that have complimentary core competencies, and that includes AWS, that includes Microsoft. As we embrace cloud technologies, the government has as well. We've got a variety, whether it’s on the communications side, whether it’s on data and analytics components, cyber, we’re continuously pushing forward on the cyber side of defending the broader infrastructure by using cloud-based services. We are absolutely seeing a ton of our own personal success at Booz Allen, as well as the broader government, as we continue this journey towards cloud-based business.

Hillary: We’re going to take one last question. We have a couple more coming in, but last question that I’m going to go with. We’ve had a lot of questions come in around education and opportunities here at Booz Allen. Most of us have been here for a while. Can each of you share something you’ve perhaps learned, whether it’s FlexEd, whether you’ve gone to a conference, a way that you’ve expanded your knowledge, expertise, or learning at Booz Allen?

I will go first. I don’t know that I teed this one up ahead of time, so I’ll go first, if you don’t mind. I was really excited. We’ve been moving into the solutions space, so last year I had the opportunity to take a 12-week course through Cornell around product marketing, learning how to think about our solutions and pairing that with marketing as we move from consulting towards solutions. It was a great opportunity. A great opportunity to network in the industry and bring some of those best practices back to Booz Allen.

Jason, over to you next.

Jason: I was going to go a little slightly different direction. I think one of the other pieces is that we really afford people the opportunity to take time off and be flexible. I know that sounds a little bit weird relative to the conversation, but some of the best parts are figuring out what you want. Being able to have that mental reprieve and have the time to figure things out, both in life and work, and having that work-life balance, for me, is one of the key pieces at Booz Allen that allows me to be successful and continue to learn about my customers is also learning about myself and ensuring that I’m taking time to dedicate to that.

Hillary: Love that. Laura, over to you.

Laura: I already mentioned going to conferences, so I won’t double down on that. I’ve really enjoyed getting to go on trips with my customers. I can’t say many details, but getting to go somewhere interesting and fun and put things to the test and hear their stories, sit around a campfire, and get to know them as humans, I’ve learned a lot about them and why I’m doing what I’m doing.

Hillary: Awesome. Joe, over to you.

Joe: I’ve used FlexEd extensively. In fact, the three years I’ve been at Booz Allen, I’ve used every dollar all three years. I did a budget management certificate through CalTech. In three months, I’ll finish my graduate degree, all paid for by FlexEd through Booz Allen. The education opportunities are there. Take advantage of them.

Hillary: Ki, you get the final word on this, and then we’ll close out.

Ki: First of all, go Big Red. Hillary, you went to a great continuing education program there. I mentioned before that the culture of this institution is collegiality. For me, it’s what I’ve learned in the 20 years from everyone within the institution. This is a social network. Whether it’s talking with Joe and his team out in Washington, collaborating and learning more about what our colleagues are doing in Huntsville, how we are supporting the INDOPACOM mission out in Hawaii, most recently coming back from Stuttgart with our EUCOM team, I’ve learned more about the mission than I ever would have dreamed of. Certainly, I’ve learned tech, but I think an understanding of information operations, logistics, C2, ISR, readiness, space domain—that's my biggest takeaway from what I’ve learned from my colleagues across these 30,000 plus at Booz Allen.

Hillary: Awesome. Thanks, everybody, for joining us today. It was a really great session. We appreciate you asking such great questions today; we hope we got to most of them. Thanks so much. Again, follow us on social, apply for jobs, and I know our whole recruiting team is there with questions to help you along the way, and we hope to see you at an onboarding orientation sometime soon.

Alysha, anything else to share with our colleagues before we wrap?

Alysha: I think that covers it. Thank you everyone for joining us this morning, this evening, this afternoon, wherever you might be joining us. Have a great holiday.

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