The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Pinnacle Awards were announced Oct. 13, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place virtually Dec. 8.
Next is National Security/DHS Executive of the Year finalist John Saad, who’s a partner and national security sector leader at Guidehouse. Here, he talks career turning points, career advice, proud organizational moments and more.
What has made you successful in your current role?
I am fortunate to be surrounded by a great team of experts, both in the national security missions as well as management and technology consulting. I am continually learning about the unique aspects of our clients’ missions through site visits, briefings, one-on-one conversations and working directly with key stakeholders on their issues.
I stay current on the capabilities Guidehouse can offer to assist them in furthering their efforts today. I listen to what capabilities we can build in the future to continue supporting them.
What was a turning point or inflection point in your career?
The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were a turning point in my career. Prior to that, I worked in commercial management consulting, providing financial analysis for litigation matters. As a result of 9/11, I wanted to be engaged in some way to help.
When the opportunity to support the DOJ 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund arose, I jumped on the opportunity and haven’t looked back, moving from one national security-related project to another and eventually leading my firm’s segment for the last 5 years in support of these missions.
What are you most proud of having been a part of in your current organization?
I am most proud of having built a diverse team of talented professionals committed to the missions we serve. They are united by a sense of purpose and duty to the national security missions.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
It’s probably not terribly unique, but it is important to surround yourself with smart individuals, have passion for the missions we serve, deep expertise and give them the space to operate, share their perspectives and lead.
It is critical to listen more than you speak and set the vision while giving your team the space to execute in their own way.
Empowering people is the only way to build a high-performing culture. The mission impact and business results will follow.