On May 20, General Dynamics Information Technology President Amy Gilliland delivered a speech to George Mason Business School’s graduating class. She thanked GMU graduates for their invaluable work at GDIT, noting the company’s large GMU alumni group of over 500 talented individuals.
Gilliland praised their exceptional work in cutting-edge areas such as radio frequency waveform processing, artificial intelligence deep fake creation and audio parsing, acknowledging the talent and innovation fostered by GMU’s prestigious programs.
Recognized as a leader in her industry, Gilliland has cultivated a corporate culture that prioritizes employees’ well-being and growth. Acknowledging the challenges posed by the pandemic, she said, “The past three years disrupted leadership philosophy more than the entire half-century that proceeded it.”
However, Gilliland remained positive, believing this transformative period will result in collective progress. She condensed her insights on this evolving work environment into three key points.
Her first is to “not let a predetermined career path or timeline prevent you from pursuing a career you love.” She told the graduates it is perfectly acceptable to have uncertainties about their plans or purpose, and she urged them to actively embrace the unknown and the possibility of not having all the answers.
“I don’t even know what I want to be when I grow up,” Gilliland added.
Gilliland’s second piece of advice: “It is important to recognize that everyone is struggling with something.” She said business leaders must prioritize addressing the enduring impact of the pandemic on the workforce.
Within GDIT, Gilliland has addressed these issues by implementing a mental health wellness campaign. This initiative strives to cultivate a professional environment where employees support each other and feel comfortable discussing their challenges.
Gilliland said her campaign has played a pivotal role in saving lives, emphasizing it as the work she considers her greatest source of pride.
Concluding her speech, Gilliland left graduates with her final point: “Work can not be an inanimate object; work has to have a soul.”
“Through its soul, I believe the workplace has the power to create the relationships, restore the trust and instill a sense of safety and decency that many feel has diminished in recent years,” she said.
Gilliland believes when employees are actively involved in a company’s culture, it can reduce loneliness, inspire them and drive the business to exceptional levels of success.
She emphasized that these concepts are crucial at GDIT, saying the company is achieving outstanding results because of the connection between compassionate leadership and high performance.
“With these observations in mind, I’m here to tell you that leading will require you to take your heart and soul, not just your mind, into the next chapter,” Gilliland said. “And I am quite certain that the class of 2023 is prepared to thrive.”