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Find your center: That’s my motto for success in the workplace, and in life.
As executive vice president for Booz Allen’s digital business, I know that my center—what makes me happy in connecting with clients—is my passion for developing digital solutions that are both cutting edge and truly meaningful to people’s lives.
And when I’m not working, I’m also living by that motto, whether trolling for tuna in the Gulfstream or practicing tai chi.
Executive Vice President Greg Wenzel leads our Digital Solutions initiative focusing on the Internet of Things. He and his teams deliver modular agile solutions that integrate deep understanding of mission and systems development with the latest technologies in social, mobile, and cloud computing.
Greg focuses on the consumer/interactive aspects creating new solutions for our government-to-citizen, Command, Control, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (C4ISR), and health clients. He has a proven track record applying emerging technologies, such as cloud computing and service-oriented architecture, to design, develop, and deliver large-scale, enterprise systems to address transformational business and mission needs. Greg has a deep understanding in the Department of Defense (DoD) C4ISR mission area and enterprise integration leveraging API design and management.
Greg is a specialist in distributed computing solutions and has deep experience in intelligence community, tactical warfighting, and commercial web-based systems as well as advanced distributed simulation. He is a recognized leader in the areas of:
Throughout his career, Greg has helped defense clients achieve enterprise efficiency through re-use and integration focusing on the continued net-centric transformation of IT systems. He is working with Army, Navy, Air Force, and defense clients to architect and implement net-centric solutions across the DoD C2ISR enterprise. In addition, Greg is the chairman of the board for the Association for Enterprise Information, a National Defense Industrial Association affiliate.
Before joining the firm, Greg served as chief architect for several commercial B2B exchanges while at Aestix.com. Prior to Aestix, he was chief engineer for several distributed applications supporting multiple clients across DoD, including the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; the Defense Intelligence Agency; the Defense Communications Agency-Command, Control, Communications, and Computer Systems Defense Information Systems Agency; Air Force; and Army. In addition, Greg served 8 years in the U.S. Army National Guard/Reserves as a combat engineer (sapper) and achieved the rank of captain.
Greg holds a B.S. in computer science from Clarion University of Pennsylvania and an M.S. in computer science from Johns Hopkins University.
What makes you passionate about your work at Booz Allen? I’m a technology consultant at heart. I love learning about new missions and finding out how we can make them more efficient and effective using the latest innovations in IT. It keeps me jazzed and motivated for what’s next.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the tech world during your career? In the technology space, there are waves of change. When I started, the web was just coming alive and web sites accessed from a browser were really powerful disruptors. Then there was service-oriented architecture, and now it’s cloud, mobile, digital, and social. Those waves have happened in such a short time. With the emergence of the smart phone in 2007, we’ve see the emergence of companies and apps that develop services to make our lives infinitely easier (like Waze) and really disrupt industries (like Uber) as we know it.
How do you connect personally to your IT clients? Understanding their problems. Their mission is my mission. I don’t just push this cool new technology. I need to get inside their needs and see the issue. It could be finding the bad guys or healing the good guys. How can we make that easier? Do they need to save costs or increase effectiveness? We make the connection between our technology and the clients’ real-world needs.
What draws IT professionals to Booz Allen? Two things. Working with the latest technologies and solving some of our clients hardest problems. It’s inspiring to be part of creating the next solutions that will protect our warfighters, help heal the wounded warriors that served our country, or provide transparency of the government to the digital-citizen consumers. They’re proud that they can use new technologies, but they’re even prouder to use those skills to really help people.
What do you look for when hiring a new team member? I want people who are intellectually curious and can inspire others in the technology space. I’m not looking for an individualist.
What are the most pressing needs your clients need to address? Modernization. And digital-citizen services and transparency. Across the board, monolithic IT systems are moving out. Everyone wants a modular system to get things online quicker and to offer more frequent releases and feedback. The need for modular DevOps is consistent across all clients.
How do you keep your team motivated through the challenges of a project? New technologies and solutions have challenges. The question is how you deal with it when problems occur. I’ve found that during challenges we form closer relationships with each other because we go through the battle together, and we form a bond. We go through stress points and share experiences. It makes us a team.
Is there anything you wish you knew as a young professional? Honestly no, because I’ve always had awesome career managers who connected me in the firm and helped me explore my entrepreneurial spirit. I pay that forward by trying to emulate them. I put a framework in place and let my team operate in it. When they need help, I step in, but I don’t want to micromanage. I want to maintain the right balance.
What were you like in high school? Nerdy. There’s no surprise there. I was always intellectually curious. I wanted to know what made things work. I pulled things apart like small engines and some of the first versions of personal computer like the Commodore 64.
What was your first job? A lifeguard. I was a water baby. If I wasn’t messing with some mechanical engine, I was swimming. I still love the water. I have a boat, and I love going 70 miles offshore in search of sushi-grade tuna. There is something serene about being out in the Gulfstream, the cobalt-blue water, just trolling along. That’s my happy place—heading out to the fishing ground while the sun rises on the water. It’s where heaven meets earth.
What can we all do to be happier in life? Find what you love and do it, both in work and your personal life. Whether it’s time with my wife and daughter or on my boat on the ocean, those are my personal happy places. So I go there. For work, there is a cliché I’ve lived by that if you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. We all need to take on the challenges at work, but also know where our centers are.