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 Business Development Executive of the Year (Public Company) finalist Richard Crowe, who’s chief growth officer for Booz Allen Hamilton. Here, he talks key achievements, shaping the next generation of industry leaders, career advice and more.
What key achievements did you have in 2020/2021?
I became Booz Allen’s first-ever chief growth officer and was asked to stand up a firmwide growth organization. Reporting directly to the CEO, I am executing a vision to use data and insights to guide our planning, intensify our mission focus and customer-first mindset and drive sustained, long-term, high-quality growth. I’m energized by this opportunity to take what I’ve learned from leading our health business and apply it at scale across Booz Allen.
Our health business expanded hugely during my tenure and is on track to exceed $1.5 billion in revenue this year — essentially double what it was only four years ago. In 2020/2021, we not only navigated the new challenges posed by the pandemic but also accelerated our growth and support to client missions.
Earlier this year, we were awarded the Department of Veterans Affairs Benefits Integrated Delivery program for nearly $1.1 billion. That win followed our acquisition of Liberty IT Solutions, LLC, Booz Allen’s largest acquisition ever and an effort I initiated and led the charge on.
Those major accomplishments capped a period of other notable wins, including the $194 million recompete of Booz Allen’s contract supporting the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Marketplace Systems Integrator program, which implements the Affordable Care Act; new work supporting VA’s Logistics Redesign effort ($92 million); and contracts supporting the Centers for Disease Control CIO’s technical application modernization ($74 million) and Enterprise Laboratory Information Management System ($30 million).
What has made you successful in your current role?
Authenticity and constant dialogue. Our clients have tough work to do, and that work got even tougher for our health clients during the pandemic. They want to know the truth about where you see the opportunities to make an impact and your ideas for getting there.
Regular communication with our clients ensures that we hear their perspective and understand what needs to get done to support the mission. Being able to partner with our clients in an authentic way is what makes us different from our competitors. The way we go into client engagements is totally different from our competitors. You can’t have authenticity until you have a dialogue.
What was a turning point or inflection point in your career?
Before joining Booz Allen 17 years ago, I led a team of engineers, physicists, chemists and technicians in developing custom plasma-based applications for dual use in counterterrorism and medical applications. I still hold seven patents related to the method and application of non-equilibrium plasmas.
With degrees in electrical engineering and technology management and experience as an entrepreneur, I wasn’t thinking that one day I’d be leading the business growth function at a world-class firm.
In many ways, though, I haven’t really strayed from my love for science and technology. Instead, I find myself bringing them together with my passion to have a lasting impact on the world.
One recent example I use to explain this is Booz Allen’s support to the government during the pandemic. From my position as a business leader, I helped mobilize a multidisciplinary team of our brightest health and data science talent to support the government’s pandemic response in areas including vaccine development and manufacturing; public health outreach (Coronavirus Prevention Network); pandemic data tracking; and laboratory supply chain analysis for multiple health agencies across civil and defense.
It was a proof point of Booz Allen’s ability to adapt with speed and velocity when the government’s mission changed overnight. It was personally gratifying to connect the best ideas in science and technology to the client’s mission and make a difference during a global crisis.
What are you most proud of having been a part of in your current organization?
I had the privilege of leading the firm’s Health business for three years, and a big part of that portfolio is the work we do for the Department of Veterans Affairs. I take great pride in what we do to serve the VA because the work is transformational to the way veterans receive their benefits. From health care to benefits delivery, we do work that’s transforming the way the VA delivers these services — things like implementing a veterans benefits management system and other next-generation IT to give veterans quicker access to benefits. Efforts like that improve the continuity of contact between the VA and those it serves.
For me, and for everyone on our team, this kind of work is more than just a job. It’s a way to change the world by creating a lasting positive impact for our nation’s veterans and their families. Being part of that, and leading the expansion of our work deeper into the heart of the VA’s mission, will always be something I’m grateful to have done.
How do you help shape the next generation of industry leaders?
Giving people a chance to step up and stretch and grow is hugely important to me, and it’s a huge part of the culture at Booz Allen. I have a “pay it forward” philosophy of executive leadership. That’s why I’m here — we operate as a teaching organization that empowers our employees to change the world on behalf of our clients.
Later in their careers, when the people on my team look back on their time working for me, I hope they remember how I helped them prepare for their next challenges, and I hope they do the same for the new generation.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
True innovation starts with your staff. If you forget that, you’ve lost something. What makes Google a great company isn’t its algorithms; it’s the people. What makes Booz Allen the preeminent firm is what each individual staff member brings. We as leaders are responsible for making each person achieve their maximum potential. In other words, technology has a first and last name.