Booz Allen Hamilton empowers talent to solve complex problems

The #4 large company on the 2020 Best Places to Work in IT list combines industry-leading learning and development with a close-knit culture to build a team that’s risen to meet the COVID-19 challenge.

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Management and IT consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, based in McLean, Va., has more than 26,000 employees who work in 129 global offices. A phrase often repeated across the company is that it “empowers people to change the world.”

It comes as no surprise, then, that the #4 large company on the Best Places to Work in IT list this year (with more than 15 years on the list) boasts a strong tradition of recruiting the best and brightest, offering countless opportunities to grow, develop and learn — combined with a culture that is both client-focused and highly collaborative.

The company’s 500-strong IT organization is broken into four groups: Cloud Services, IT Service Management, Application Operational Support (Devops and DBA) and Business Operations. It serves as a mission-essential partner that drives the collective success of the entire business, focused on providing robust and secure technology solutions that the company can use to deliver results for clients across critical engagements in defense, civil, commercial and international markets. Its leadership has forged strong relationships across the company and works to infuse technology as early as possible in firm-wide business decisions. 

Attracting top talent

Booz Allen Hamilton tends to attract those who enjoy working to solve difficult problems leveraging complex IT tools and solutions, according to Amy Costa, a talent acquisition lead and market strategist at the company who supports several Washington, D.C. metro-area teams.

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Booz Allen Hamilton has nearly 27,000 employees, with 107 U.S. offices from Honolulu to New York City and 22 others around the world.

“For many in IT, that is a huge appeal,” she says. “In this very competitive talent environment, we need to attract the right talent against hard-to-find skills, such as digital, cyber and analytics, so we work hard to offer the right opportunities and employee value proposition that resonates with candidates.”

That includes focusing on providing a good work-life balance and promoting a close-knit culture in which employees lift each other up. Marcello DiClemente, director of IT Service Delivery in Booz Allen Hamilton’s Information Services group, says he appreciates how the company’s IT organization manages to foster a closeness among its teams that belies its large size. “I found a group of people who are not only employees, they are part of a family,” he says.

One of the company’s golden rules of success reflects the IT department’s unique bond: Always help when someone is in need and always ask for help when you need it. That simple yet essential focus, says DiClemente, keeps him driven, focused and motivated even after two decades at the firm.

With 16 years of experience on delivery teams across several market segments of the firm, in 2016 he had the opportunity to take the proficiencies developed across those client engagements and bring them to the internal IT organization. “I found very quickly that this group had embraced the company culture but also forged a very unique bond over mission,” he says.

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Several of Booz Allen Hamilton’s largest offices are in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

That is true of the IT leadership as well: Rebecca McHale, Booz Allen Hamilton’s CIO, says the firm’s culture of investing in employees and its value proposition of “bringing the best of yourself to work” is what drew her into the company in the first place.

“The company supports building at scale, providing access to opportunities and showing appreciation,” she says. “Within my team, we absolutely work to uphold that proposition, with a critical mission to serve our internal clients who, in turn, have clients. What we do really does make a difference and we have to be operating as one big team with clear goals that enable the business.”

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“What we do really does make a difference.” —Rebecca McHale, CIO, Booz Allen Hamilton

To accomplish those goals, building the best possible IT team is a must. “That means I spend a lot of time talking about what it means to have healthy conflicts, to hold each other accountable, to trust each other and grow together as a team,” she says.

Investing in training offerings is part of that equation, with flexible education reimbursements, vendor partnerships and conference opportunities. “We plan our financials within the IT organization every year with a renewed commitment to investment in our people,” she says.

Listening to the IT team

IT employee feedback is also essential, to discover areas where the organization is strong and how it can improve how teams work or what new technologies can help. Recently, a series of focus groups led to the development of a new Technology Strategy team, made up of IT team members, to define a customer-centric, data-driven vision that supports the entire company’s multi-year plans and creates an optimal technology experience for employees, leaders and customers.

“A lot of our folks are on client sites most of the time, so they are trying to balance the needs of their clients,” says McHale. “We are always looking at ways to make our employees effective in every aspect of their role.”

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A Booz Allen Hamilton Innovation Lab in Washington, D.C.; these spaces are meant to encourage creative thinking and provide access to cutting-edge technology.

Thoughtful planning and hard work by the IT organization also led to a seamless transition to full-time remote delivery during the COVID-19 crisis. In the 18 or so months prior to this unprecedented event, Booz Allen Hamilton had made several large investments in remote connectivity and collaboration tools and also completed several key initiatives to streamline the user experience with mobile solutions and tightly integrated identity platforms.

That has led to a productive and collaborative remote workforce that has also rallied to build morale and make connections, says McHale. “One of the coolest things to see is the amount of creativity that has emerged as people find ways to get to know each other and make each other laugh,” she explains. “I just feel tremendously proud of my team right now — this is an IT organization that had to enable everyone to operate remotely during this time while also hitting very large milestones in IT projects and not missing a beat.”

Nominations are now open for the 2021 Best Places to Work in IT list! Nominate an organization or find out more about the Best Places to Work in IT survey and program.

Read about the Best Places to Work in IT 2020: