2014 GovCon Award Nominee, Sapient SVP and Managing Director Teresa Bozzelli, Speaks About Serving Others

Teresa Bozzelli, Sapient Government Services

Teresa Bozzelli, Sapient Government Services

On Sept. 4, the finalists for this year’s Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards were announced and WashingtonExec is bringing you its annual series with the nominees.

The winners will be unveiled on Nov. 13 at The Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and the Professional Services Council. With more than 1,000 business and public sector leaders attending the event, our series will keep you up-to-date about all the finalists for this year — who they are, what they do and why they are worthy of winning.

Our next interview is with Teresa Bozzelli, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Sapient Government Services. She is nominated for “Executive of the Year” in the greater than $300 million category.

WashingtonExec: What would you say are the top one or two leadership qualities necessary to be a great leader?

Teresa Bozzelli: Leading with creativity and respect separates the great leaders from good leaders.

Great leaders are creative in bringing together diverse opinions and viewpoints to develop a vision with energy and innovation. Great leaders understand the value of respecting others to foster openness, strengthen relationships and build mutual trust.

In a people growth setting, leaders find the best situation for each individual to perform to their fullest potential. In a client engagement setting, leaders design various problem-solving approaches to identify the most effective way to reach the best solution.

In this industry, we have chosen to serve clients that serve others. It’s critical to stay grounded in the reason we do what we do: stay focused on the mission of the greater good.

WashingtonExec: If we were to speak directly to your leadership team, what would they say is your management style? How would your team describe your leadership qualities?

Teresa Bozzelli: My management style is thoughtful. I ask, listen, analyze and then act with the best interest of all parties. At Sapient, we emphasize fostering openness and building relationships, and I make sure that my management style reflects those values. No voice should go unheard.

My leadership qualities combine strategic thinking, practical action and honesty to balance business, client and staff demands.

WashingtonExec: What was a turning point or inflection point in your career?

Teresa Bozzelli: During the course of my career, I’ve been able to work in many different types of organizational cultures. A leadership style that works in one culture does not always work in another. One important point in my career, I transitioned from working at NASA to a role at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). My communication and leadership techniques that had worked so successfully at NASA, simply didn’t fit at the EPA. I quickly learned that as a leader it was my responsibility to assess the subtleties of the situation and adapt my leadership and communication style to be appropriate for my teams and our clients.

WashingtonExec: What is the No. 1 book that you gift to individuals?

Teresa Bozzelli: I find that I can be more helpful through my time and conversation. That way, we can focus on the topic important to that individual.

WashingtonExec: What advice do you have for aspiring leaders in the government contracting industry?

Teresa Bozzelli: In this industry, we have chosen to serve clients that serve others. It’s critical to stay grounded in the reason we do what we do: stay focused on the mission of the greater good.

WashingtonExec: What was your first job? Overall, how did that experience shape your career?

Teresa Bozzelli: I started my career in IT and my path to leadership at IBM, where I worked on NASA’s Space Shuttle program. I had always wanted to be in the sciences, to be pushing boundaries and I found that initial opportunity at NASA. Working for something that I felt passionately about taught me that dedication and success is about more than just the bottom-line. For me, I found that it is about a dedication to doing something that makes a difference on people’s lives.

WashingtonExec: What three pieces of advice would you give your kids?

Teresa Bozzelli:

  1. Align your career to your passions. Know what fulfills you, gives you energy and motivates you to get up each morning.
  2. I always say “Be Bold!” Never settle for “average” or “anonymous.”
  3. Always strive for growth, personal as well as professional.

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