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I dreamed of playing for the Boston Red Sox. I might sometimes still dream about that a little. Especially when I sit in the pair of Fenway Park bleacher seats I have at home. But mostly these days, I’m working on a tough problem.
Tough problems motivate me. And how we can help solve those problems with data science? That excites me.
Mark "Jake" Jacobsohn leads our analytics initiative, focused on developing and scaling state-of-the-art data science solutions and tradecraft, with clients spanning commercial, civil, defense, and intelligence markets. He is also the functional service officer for analytics across the firm.
Mark led Booz Allen's alternate revenue streams effort, which sought to leverage the firm’s intellectual capital to bundle services with new products and differentiate Booz Allen in the marketplace. Mark also oversaw Booz Allen’s investment in the Internet of Things (IoT). For IoT, Booz Allen co-developed many capabilities with partners including Microsoft and Intel Corp. He also led the design and building of our DC Innovation Center.
In his 20 years with Booz Allen, he supported all the firm’s major markets and clients, including our Intelligence business focused on national security. He also supported the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense.
Mark is a well-known wargamer, with experience designing and executing several hundred events throughout his career, ranging from small tabletop exercises to national cyber exercises. He also helped develop and employ a broad set of modeling and simulation tools, from course-of-action analysis for national war plans, to detailed tactical modeling and visualization tools in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as network and system performance modeling for classified programs.
Before joining Booz Allen, Mark worked for Science Applications International Corp., focusing on nuclear arms control and the revolution in military affairs.
Mark is a member of the Military Operations Research Society. He holds an M.A. in security policy studies from The George Washington University and a B.A. in government from Hamilton College. He also holds a certificate from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government for completing the Senior Executives in National and International Security program.
Why are you passionate about the work you do at Booz Allen? We’re better at it than anyone else—we’re pioneers in data science. I’ve seen us do amazing things for our clients that they didn’t think were possible through data science and advanced analytics. We’re leaders in a critical and emerging area.
What excites you about working in data science? You’re diving into the data, asking questions, and poking at it. You can discover fundamentally new insights and new answers. We’ve helped clients radically change how they do things.
Why is Booz Allen an ideal firm for data scientists? We have a whole bunch of them. And you’re getting to learn from world-famous data scientists. Clients invite us into their work, to access their data and try new things. You can build a career at Booz Allen, and go on a journey where you’re really making a difference for clients.
How do you help your clients prepare for the future? We show them that the future isn’t scary, that they can put their data in the cloud and still secure it. We also show them what’s possible. We show them advanced computing techniques, setting up their data in the right way. Humans are good at analysis, but let machines do the number crunching.
Why do you have the career you have? I’ve been willing to try new things, operate in different client environments, and take on hard challenges. I keep learning and am excited by what I do.
What is an untapped opportunity in data science? Sharing data and best practices across institutions. There’s a lot of stovepiped data, not in a common structure where it can be accessed and analyzed.
What makes you excited to come to work in the morning? At Booz Allen, we go bigger, think faster. I’m excited that, as a 102-year-old company, we decided to start selling products. It’s exciting that a company that’s been around that long can try new things and has an appetite to do more.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be the center fielder for the Red Sox. I wanted to pitch, too. I wanted to be a great two-way player.
What’s your most prized possession? I own two Fenway Park bleacher seats. They were pulled out of the stadium in 2008. People were sitting in those seats when the Red Sox won! I had a cousin who worked for the Red Sox, and I got the opportunity to buy the seats.
What’s the most influential book you’ve read? The Last Lion, a biography of Winston Churchill. It gives you an amazing sense for the time he lived in, and the effect he had.
What is your favorite vacation or travel spot? Montana, Glacier National Park, and even more specifically the Many Glacier Hotel, because from there you can hike to Iceberg Lake.
What’s your strongest character trait? Being reasonable. Nothing makes me happier than when I explain my approach, and people say, “I get it,” and “That makes sense.”
Who fascinates you? Teenagers. I have two of them.
What’s been your life’s biggest challenge? My teenagers. I’m not kidding this time.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received? All conversations about you should be short and positive. Don’t create drama and don’t go looking for it. Do the job, be collaborative, and don’t try to own everything.
What advice would you give someone taking on a new leadership role? Let go of your old role. You’ve got to jump into your new challenge with both feet.