The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Pinnacle Awards were announced Oct. 8, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place virtually Nov. 12.
Next up is Cybersecurity Industry Executive of the Year (Private Company) finalist Nichole Gohman, who’s director of civil cyber solutions at Peraton. Here, she talks success, career challenges and other advice.
What has made you successful in your current role?
My people. I have an incredible team. Technology is constantly changing, and our cyber adversaries pose a higher risk to the American people than ever before. My people are on the front line, charged with protecting national security, and they do it with a tenacity that makes me proud, makes Peraton proud and makes our customers proud.
What are you most proud of having been a part of in your current organization?
Being there at the beginning of Peraton’s current iteration in 2017. We often refer to the company as a 125-year-old startup; in many ways, it is so true. We came together as a team from multiple legacy companies and built a better version of our cyber offerings. I’m proud to be a part of what Peraton has become.
What’s one key thing you learned from a failure you had?
The key thing I’ve learned over the years about failure is that it is inevitable. Don’t let failure hold you back — instead, see the potential opportunity in it. Industry leaders are defined by their success, but how they handle and persevere despite failure is what sets them apart. It is easy to celebrate success, but rising above failure is what really defines you.
What was your biggest career struggle and how did you overcome it?
In 2018, my predecessor departed and I stepped in as director of civil cyber. It was a challenging time for the new Peraton, and 80% of my business was being re-competed. Starting a new small business is one thing; we were building a brand-new large business from scratch.
We went on to win all that business back because of my incredible team. I know they are the right men and women to trust with the most daunting cyber challenges. We built business processes and finetuned them as we executed our work. We performed our tasks seamlessly, and our customers never knew the challenges we were facing.
That is what we are here to do: deliver incredible cyber services, regardless of the obstacles in our way.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
Surround yourself with incredible people, then listen to them. Don’t be afraid to question things that are not following a logical path. Always ask why. If you know why, you will have the knowledge to course-correct, prevent a failure or grow.
Don’t be afraid to be wrong, and thank those who point it out. You will be wrong a lot in your career, and that’s OK.