The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Chief Officer Awards were announced April 15, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place virtually May 27.
Next is Chief Financial Officer Award finalist Judy Bjornaas, who’s executive vice president and CFO at ManTech International. Here, she talks proud career moments, overcoming career struggles, career advice and more.
What has made you successful in your current role?
I have great people working for me for whom I am very thankful. Even when things get exceedingly busy, I know that we will get through it as a team. I think organizational and multitasking skills are also critical and I’m a huge believer in lists!
What are you most proud of having been a part of in your current organization?
I have been at ManTech for 10 years now and each year has brought new and exciting challenges and opportunities. I am very proud of ManTech’s culture and our focus on supporting our customers on the important missions protecting our country’s national security. One particularly proud day for me was when we celebrated ManTech’s 50 Year Anniversary by ringing the bell at NASDAQ.
How do you help shape the next generation of industry leaders?
I’m a frequent speaker and panelist at CFO and Women in Business events and enjoy serving as a resource and mentor to young women in business. In a country where fewer than 15% of CFO positions are held by women, I recognize the importance of inspiring the next generation of female business leaders.
In March 2020, I was honored to be selected for a ManTech employees-only panel, titled “ManTech Icons,” in celebration of Women’s History Month.
Which rules do you think you should break more as an industry leader?
In executive leadership, there can be a lot of unspoken rules about communication needing to be formal all the time. However, as we navigate away from the email-only standard, I’m excited to utilize more casual communication channels.
For example, I had the privilege of hosting a live, employees-only “Ask Me Anything” event on Slack, shortly after ManTech transitioned to the platform. This session allowed employees to ask me professional and personal questions in real time.
I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and was happy to be able to connect with people on a new level, while also having the chance to show off my sense of humor.
What was your biggest career struggle and how did you overcome it?
I think my biggest obstacle has been a tendency to try to avoid conflict. However, dodging hard topics is rarely conducive to change. To overcome this, I remind myself that the tough conversations are usually the most important to get right and then push forward.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
Don’t be afraid to take a risk. Ask yourself, “Really, what is the worst that can happen?” and then go for it! I learned this from my mother. When I was young, she went back to college to finish her degree and got a job working at IBM. She really encouraged me and made it clear that women can do and be anything.