Meet Techies Who Chose Government Service Instead of Silicon Valley

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Silicon Valley holds the justifiable allure of all things digital, but there’s one thing missing: the opportunity to improve the way government works through innovative, mission-focused solutions. Startups in the West may have once been the only option for forward-thinking tech talent, but not anymore.

At Booz Allen Hamilton, computer scientists, engineers, and other digital professionals have found a home. They’ve chosen to work here because they want to make a difference.

Our people are passionate about solving complex client problems across the firm’s government work. In integrated and collaborative teams, they’re delivering solutions that have a direct impact on our nation’s security, intelligence, and civil missions.

Meet three people who chose to put their talent to work in service to their government, over Silicon Valley.

“It’s one thing to build cool tech and hope people use it. It’s a whole other thing to have the infrastructure and network to inspire adoption of change. The technologists that make up Booz Allen get that. They’re not just here to say they did something cool. They’re here to change the world for the better.”

The gamer

Name: Aileen Zhou

What She Does: Aileen designs and develops standalone, Web-based software for computer-based training applications. In other words, she’s a video game developer, working to use gaming functionalities for a variety of government agencies. She does this work from our office in Red Bank, New Jersey, a small beach town with cobblestone streets, Victorian street lamps, and roots dating to the 1600s. Today, our Red Bank location hosts teams doing high-tech government work in areas such as cyber, instructional development, and immersive learning teams.

“One of the main reasons I prefer working at Booz Allen is that my developing skills have purpose. The projects I’ve worked on can be best described as “meaningful gaming.” My team uses gamification to create engaging e-learning software to replace monotonous trainings that are usually just ignored. I’ve made games for clients like the Department of Energy, the military, the Department of Veterans Affairs, health, and others. The agencies I’ve worked with run the gamut from tech savvy to the tech illiterate, which has been a unique experience in terms of realizing how technology can best serve diverse audiences. Some of my projects can be as simple as a drag-and-drop game to something as complicated as creating a satellite equipment simulator. “It’s all different, but ultimately the end goal is to bring better solutions to the government.”

The Consultant

Name: Graham Gilmer

What He Does: Graham leads Booz Allen’s investments in data science and machine intelligence, charting the firm’s approach to advanced analytics and accelerating the adoption of machine learning technologies across the Federal Government.

Graham personifies the way our consulting heritage infuses our cutting-edge tech work, a big differentiator for the firm. And he does it in D.C., well established as the hub of American politics. The nation’s capital is also becoming increasingly notable for something else: an accessible tech community.

“I started my career on the West Coast out of Stanford, but was quickly drawn to Booz Allen because of the scale and complexity of problems facing government. As consultants, we have the opportunity to rotate across projects and contribute to some of the most important challenges in the federal space, and help agencies connect dots. It’s especially thrilling given we’re on the precipice of a new age of computing, driven by ubiquitous machine learning that will have dramatic effects across society. And the government will play an important role as that evolves. How we adopt new tech and adapt to change will all depend on government resilience, and I think Booz Allen is well positioned to support that given the people who work here aren’t just smart, but truly passionate about public service. It’s one thing to build cool tech and hope people use it. It’s a whole other thing to have the infrastructure and network to inspire adoption of change. The technologists that make up Booz Allen get that. They’re not just here to say they did something cool. They’re here to change the world for the better.”

The Designer

Name: Adam Hays

What He Does: Adam leads the development of highly complex, award-winning, interactive applications for desktop, web, and mobile platforms, also from our Red Bank, New Jersey, location.

“Honestly, I was surprised by how much creative work there was to do in the government space, from serious games, immersive learning, modeling and simulations, to augmented and virtual reality, mobile apps, and communications. There’s a whole host of problems that need creative ideas and ingenuity. I love getting to bring my design skills to the table and inject my own creativity into my work for government and the military, but knowing that my contributions are actually making agencies operate more efficiently is what I’m passionate about. I’ve worked on projects that help keep real on-the-ground soldiers safe, I’ve assisted veterans so they get better care, and I’ve updated how organizations operate in digital spaces. Those are all opportunities I feel really fortunate to have had. At some tech companies, you have a specific role where you do one thing well and there’s very little room to grow or affect real change in the world. You may do your job for a few years before moving on to the next gig, or you may feel like you’ve gone as far as you can and simply settle. That’s never been my experience at Booz Allen—there’s always something around the corner.”

At Booz Allen, we believe that the best ideas—and the greatest mission impact—come from diverse minds working together.

Our collective ingenuity shines through when people like Aileen, Graham, and Adam are free to think creatively, innovate, and implement powerful solutions for our clients’ toughest challenges.

Do you have what it takes?

You won’t have to choose between career and mission—at Booz Allen, you’ll find them both.

Join Booz Allen. The world can’t wait.

 

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