The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Pinnacle Awards were announced Oct. 11, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place live, in-person Nov. 30.
Next is Givers of GovCon Podcast Episode finalist Nancy Laben, who’s chief legal officer at Booz Allen Hamilton. Here, she talks proud career moments, key achievements, success in her current role and more.
What has made you successful in your current role?
I grew up in Japan as a Third Culture Kid in an environment that was not of my own culture or the culture of my parents. As a result, I am invested in diversity and the viewpoints of others. I learned to listen very carefully to both verbal and environmental cues. I became a lifelong learner, which is a critical element in becoming a successful leader, and I love to share my experiences and lessons with others.
Looking back at your career, what are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my impact on those around me, helping to advance the careers of so many amazing professionals. I hope my legacy will reflect my work recruiting, training and mentoring many incredibly diverse contributors to our community and helping them become successful. I am proud about being a long-time advocate in the legal community and beyond for women, and more broadly for promoting diversity, inclusion and belonging.
I can see the difference that has made as I watch women rise in their careers surrounded by supportive peers, and how groups make better business decisions ⏤ decisions that can impact the bottom line ⏤ when the people around the table reflect diversity of thought and experience, and feel included and empowered to share their voice. In fact, my team has just received Mansfield diversity certification from the DiversityLab.
What key achievements did you have in 2021 / 2022?
We have been very busy over the last few years. I am a founder of the Booz Allen Foundation and in 2020, the Foundation awarded 21 Innovation Fund grants to nonprofits, small businesses and universities to immediately accelerate their development of solutions to COVID-19 challenges.
In 2021, we issued a second round of grants to help our community partners expand and intensify their missions in alignment with ongoing Booz Allen priorities including addressing educational challenges that the pandemic created or worsened; increasing access and opportunity to make workforces more inclusive; and supporting underserved communities by using innovation and technological advances to uncover solutions to pressing problems.
Additionally, the foundation both responded to immediate crises and strengthened its own capacity to make an impact over the past year. For example, the foundation provided funding toward a homeland security program that helped the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation address a need for cell phones for Afghan refugees. The program rapidly supplied nearly 10,000 mobile phones and preloaded 6-month service plans to more than 34,000 refugees.
The foundation also launched new initiatives under its well-established impact pillars of empowering diverse talent and driving community resilience. These included a new employee-nominated grant cycle, launched with a $200,000 equity grant by Booz Allen, 5-year grants in Washington, D.C., and San Diego to expand opportunities for diverse student populations, and several capability-building efforts in advanced technologies.
Finally, while we may not have used the term ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) throughout our 108-year history, it is a fundamental part of Booz Allen. It is built in, not bolted on. And we’re excelling today because of our commitment to ESG. For example:
- Diversity: Our board is one of the most diverse in the Fortune 500.
- Sustainability: We have made significant commitments to be net zero by 2050.
- People: We’ve made public commitments to support the mental health and resiliency of our employees.
As for me personally, I am excited to be the chair of the Nominating Committee of the Wolf Trap Foundation and on the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative. Both organizations are doing incredible work around the globe and in our own communities.