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 Executive Officer Award finalist Nazzic Keene, who’s CEO of Science Applications International Corp. Here, she talks key achievements, primary focus areas going forward, career advice and more.
What key achievements did you have in 2019/2020?
Of course, I am proud of what everyone at SAIC achieved in 2020. Despite the uncertainty brought by the pandemic in 2020, we experienced a year of success and achieved strong financial and operational performance, securing new contracts, winning recompetes and expanding the company’s stance in the federal IT market. As a result, SAIC was named a Fortune 500 company for the first time since 2013.
A key achievement was SAIC’s successful acquisition of Unisys Federal. Completing an integration of this size, almost 100% virtually, presented challenges. But SAIC developed an IT strategy, and a detailed roadmap with clear milestones for integrating teams, processes, infrastructure and implementing systems and tools. Six weeks after the close of the transaction, Unisys Federal employees were fully transitioned into our business operations.
What has made you successful in your current role?
The SAIC workforce is what makes me successful, and a top priority for me is ensuring the safety and wellness of SAIC employees, while promoting diversity, equity and inclusion. I want to nurture a culture at SAIC that truly values the critical contributions and diverse perspectives of all of our team members. We know that we cannot fulfill our corporate purpose of advancing the power of technology and innovation to serve and protect our world without the contributions of our diverse workforce.
What are you most proud of having been a part of in your current organization?
Naturally, I’m proud of what we do for our government customers every day for example, I’m proud of the SAIC teams across the country who deliver IT/digital transformation to federal customers that enabled our government to operate remotely. These critical system integration, engineering, and IT solutions to defense, intelligence, civilian agencies and state/local governments ultimately allowed employees to work safely with minimal disruptions.
Beyond that, I’m proud of the active role the SAIC workforce plays in our communities. For example, thousands of SAIC people supported the annual “Light the Night” walk and raised donations for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. We also provided support to No Kid Hungry and to aid children living in hunger because of the pandemic, and donated personal protective equipment to first responders. In 2020, we established the SAIC Foundation, a charitable foundation designed to assist employees and federal customers in need during the pandemic and for years to come.
What are your primary focuses areas going forward, and why are those so important to the future of the nation?
We see an incredible opportunity to help our government customers use technology and innovation to make the government operate more efficiently and achieve its missions. To that end, SAIC will focus on delivering innovation in areas such as digital transformation, space, and digital engineering, but also ensuring that we are ready to respond to the innovation needs within robust markets like health. Our customers have demanded this, and we are responding.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
My advice is having passion and purpose in what you do, including the success of your employees. Building a strong team that is dedicated has been key to my career. My commitment to, and specifically engagement with employees, is foundational to drive success and growth. Promoting the benefits of a diverse workplace are critical elements of a business and culture that enable us to leverage and embrace relevant individual differences, capabilities, to achieve a richer employee experience and deliver exceptional business results.
You must be persistent and resilient and not allow failures to impact your path. It is important to learn from your failures and see them as opportunities to grow and advance your career forward. Finally, we have a responsibility to be a force for positive change, and giving something back to support your community is key.