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 Artificial Intelligence Industry Executive of the Year (Public Company) finalist Ryan Legge, who’s president of the analytics sector at BigBear.ai. Here, he talks key achievements, career advice, learning from failures and more.
What key achievements did you have in 2021 / 2022?
2021/2022 was a big year for me professionally and for BigBear.ai as a company. In 2021, we successfully integrated two companies, NuWave Solutions and PCI, with deep expertise in advanced analytics and cyber operations.
2021 culminated with BigBear.ai becoming a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange. That was a big moment of achievement for me and all of our employees. And to top off an exceptional 2022, we were recently awarded the U.S. Army Global Force Information Management contract.
What has made you successful in your current role?
Success in a role such as mine is dependent on having a great team lifting me up. The BigBear.ai workforce is tremendously talented, innovative and tenacious. While this award recognizes individual leadership success, my nomination is just as much a nod to my team. Nothing is possible without them ⏤ especially any success I’ve experienced in my career.
What’s one key thing you learned from a failure you had?
The biggest lesson I learned during the past couple of years is that I can’t try to do it all! As BigBear.ai has undergone incredible growth and change, I’ve come to realize that I have had to rely on the strength of the leaders around me ⏤ in essence, I have learned to trust and empower leaders in my organization.
Finding the ideal work/life balance isn’t just essential to achieving personal well-being away from the office, it also ensures I can bring my best to work every day.
Trust is the key to finding the right balance ⏤ I have to trust my superiors, peers and subordinates. That’s hard to accomplish unless you’re intentional about it, but finding that trust is key to success on the job and being present while not at work.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
The advice I have found most helpful in my career, which I repeatedly heard from my mentors, is that it is essential to surround yourself with talented people who are unafraid to challenge you.
In addition, I need to create a culture where different viewpoints and perspectives are valued and thoughtfully considered. Leaders who look for “yes people” will often miss out on ideas that would have led to better decision-making. To avoid groupthink, you must create an environment where people feel safe speaking up and embrace a healthy dose of constructive conflict.
Surrounding yourself with people smarter than you will only help drive both individual and group success!