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I lead our Digital Solutions business. But on large-scale technology projects, it’s not just about the technology—it’s about everything else, from user education to change management. Over the years, I’ve learned what it takes to build, manage, and implement these efforts.
In the process, we have transformed Digital Solutions into one of Booz Allen’s fastest-growing segments, helping the nation’s top agencies modernize their technology. One particular highlight was leading the Affordable Care Act work for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services—and receiving a thank-you phone call from President Barack Obama.
One secret to my success? I have high standards for myself and my team. The best advice I ever got was that in business, there’s no such thing as a draft. Everything you do is a reflection of who you are.
Gary Labovich is an executive vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton leading the firm’s Digital Solutions business.
He joined Booz Allen in July 2004 from American Management Systems (AMS) where he spent 18 years in key roles as both an entrepreneur and a senior executive specializing in systems development and strategic consulting for federal, state and local, and commercial organizations.
At Booz Allen, Gary leads our Digital Solutions capability supporting the capture, execution and delivery of the firm’s $1 billion-plus software development business. Gary leads a team of technology experts who deliver world-class, modern digital capabilities.
Prior to this role, Gary lead the delivery of the firm’s financial services capabilities and service offerings to both federal and private sector clients such as the U.S. Department of Treasury and its bureaus, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Reserve, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation and private banking institutions.
Previously, Gary lead the firm’s 8,000-plus-person organization providing technology consulting and systems solutions to clients across the federal government and in commercial markets—specifically financial services, health and energy. The technology team provided capabilities and service offerings via the deployment of three Centers of Excellence (COEs) representing systems development, cyber technologies and strategy technology and innovation.
Gary serves on the leadership teams for the firm’s civil, defense, and strategic innovation businesses, where his responsibilities include strategic market development, senior client relationship management, and financial oversight. He serves on the firm’s Enterprise Risk Management Committee, which is responsible for identifying and managing operational risks to the firm; and the Capital Committee which is responsible for Capital Accumulation Program (ECAP) which provides accrued benefits to employees for retirement and the occurrence of disability or death.
Gary has also served as a member of the firm’s Leadership Team, the Ethics and Compliance Committee and the prestigious Booz Allen Excellence Awards (BEA) Committee, which recognizes those projects that generate the highest impact and most meaningful results for clients.
He holds a M.S. in public management and policy from Carnegie Mellon University and a B.A. with high honors in economics from Clark University. Upon completing his graduate studies, he was awarded a Presidential Management Internship in Washington, D.C.
Along with his work for the firm, Gary is a former chair and now a member of the board of trustees for the National Capital Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and serves on the board of trustees for Clark University.
What excites you most about your job? Our aspiration is to have the best Digital Solutions business in the industry and continue to evolve our capabilities. We want to have great client feedback. In the 12 years I’ve been here, I think I’ve been a big part of helping to do that. We were recently awarded a CMMI Level 5 certification, making us one of only a handful of firms in the world to have it for technology work. It’s a huge achievement. We used to be a consulting firm that only dabbled in technology. But today, technology and systems delivery is one of the biggest parts of the business portfolio.
What are the most pressing needs in your industry? Talent. Finding people who have the right skill set and mindset, and are committed to the mission of our clients. People who can think analytically and be quick on their feet and have a passion for doing great work. That’s the limiting factor for us right now.
What’s the best business advice you ever received? When I first got out of graduate school, I was working with someonewho asked me to put together a draftdeliverable. When I got it back, it had red ink all over it. I couldn’t believe it. I went to speak with this person and asked why the deliverable had so many comments. I told this person that it was just a draft; I was just getting ideas down.This person looked up at me and said, “In the professional world, there’s no such thing as a draft. Everything you do, say, or write is a reflection of who you are. You should take care in everything you communicate, because it sends a signal.” To this day, I spell check all of my emails, I make sure that whatever I say I say it well. Everything I do, I make sure it’s first-rate. You should have a high bar for yourself. That advice has made me a better consultant and professional.
What did you want to be when you grew up? A professional baseball player but I fell considerably short of that goal
What’s an obsolete item you can’t get rid of? I have a Sharp Elsi Mate calculator. I got it back in high school—I think it was one of the first ones ever made. I still use it every day. It’s been through all of the journeys with me: college, graduate school, all of my jobs. It’s been through every exam I ever had and every project I’ve ever worked on. It has cracks in it and I literally have tape holding the battery in, but it’s never failed me. People laugh when they see it, but it is like “Old “Faithful” to me and it reminds me of where I’ve been and how I got to where I am today.
Most prized possession? My dad left me some coins he had collected during his lifetime and they are very eclecticThey’re special for a lot of reasons.
Influential book? For Whom the Bell Tolls. I’m a big Ernest Hemingway fan.
What’s your best character trait? Being straightforward so that people always know where I stand
How are you helping your clients prepare for the future? We’re helping them evolve their technology capabilities. For example, we’re promoting the notion of Agile development. It used to be that you would go out and interview lots of people, create a set of specifications, then have programmers write up software. The new model is much more flexible and rapid. It’s less standardized. We’re helping clients understand this new model and showing through the economics how it cuts back on time and cost.
Why is Booz Allen the ideal firm for someone with your skills and expertise? We have a 100-year management consulting heritage. And on these large-scale technology projects, people don’t realize that it’s not about the technology—it’s about everything else. It’s easy to write code and somewhat easy to put systems into place. But what’s hard with these kind of jobs is getting the users ready to adapt and adopt the new technology. Having a management consulting heritage and sensitivity to those issues gives us a competitive advantage. It’s the best of all worlds for the kind of work thatwe do.