Military spouse Hyejin Hickey’s professional journey

Hyejin Hickey wears many hats at Booz Allen. Among her multiple roles, she’s an adjunct facilitator for the firm’s work at the Air Force Culture and Language Center, supporting Indo-Pacific generals and others in the Air Force community with her knowledge of the Korean language and culture. She’s a final quality editor for the firm’s United States Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) Defense Forum translation project. She also leads the firm’s regional recruiting, retention, and hiring strategy. And, for the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) knowledge management team, she runs cost analyses for Booz Allen’s proposals.

That’s why it’s hard to believe Hyejin ever felt stagnant in her career. But professional growth can be challenging as an immigrant and as a military spouse. Frequent moves often result in a lack of continuity, resources, connections, and opportunity.

Hyejin shares her story, including how Booz Allen has helped her expand her experiences, expertise, and vision of what’s possible.

Language Skills Lead to a Strategic Role

Hyejin was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, and moved to the U.S. to attend college. After graduation, she began working with the federal government and defense community, starting as a special forces language instructor.

“Most of the need for language skills were in the government, especially the military, given all of the work with other countries,” she explained.

This career path also aligns with her journey as an immigrant, Hyejin said. “Becoming an American, I’m giving back to the country that’s provided me these opportunities.”

She cited her current work with Booz Allen’s Indo-Pacific Integrated Management Team/Hawaii operations as an example. “Two of the nation’s biggest adversaries, China and Russia, are in this region. I see every day how important America’s military presence is here.”

“Booz Allen is introducing our military clients to leading technology and ideas, so they can focus on the strategy and military applications,” she said. “We play an important role as a trusted advisor and partner.”

Getting a Job Versus Growing a Career

The U.S. military has played another important role in Hyejin’s life. She met her husband while employed as a contract instructor at the U.S. Army Special Operations Warfare School at Fort Bragg.

When Hyejin’s husband was reassigned to Okinawa, Japan, she used her skills as a language instructor and cultural advisor to get positions as an independent contractor at Torii Station and Kadena Air Base. These contract jobs—first in North Carolina, then in Japan, and then in Virginia—expanded her portfolio of DoD contract and regional operational work and her expertise in language instruction, translation, and interpretation.

But the project-by-project nature of her independent contractor work impeded further skills development and advancement. “My career was stagnant,” she said. “I could get a job, but I could not grow my career.”

Then Hyejin joined Booz Allen’s team for the National Language Service Corps, which provides language and cultural support for U.S. government agencies. Here her professional trajectory changed dramatically.

Career-Building Courses and Community

“I credit Booz Allen for expanding my career,” Hyejin said. Especially in the beginning, Booz Allen’s internal courses on consulting skills and training were particularly important to her professional growth. Hyejin was able to build her skills in areas such as business writing, design thinking, critical thinking, and leadership.

Her commitment to ongoing education—and Booz Allen’s support—continues. Right now, she’s working toward a master’s degree in instructional design and recently earned a business certification in artificial intelligence and machine learning through Booz Allen’s FlexEd program.

Hyejin also cited the helpfulness of community activities at Booz Allen, including the Military Spouse Network, the multilanguage group on Yammer, and firmwide events like the first-ever Booz Allen Multicultural Summit in Virginia.

“CEO Horacio Rozanski shared his experiences,” she recalled. “I had never seen him speak in person before. He talked about how he came to the United States as an immigrant and was able to build his career at Booz Allen. That spoke to my heart and showed me that someone like me could work and succeed here.”

Encouragement to Learn and Grow

Another constant in Hyejin’s experience at Booz Allen has been support from her colleagues and the diverse Booz Allen community. “As an Asian and an immigrant, the culture at Booz Allen has played an essential role in my growth.”

Hyejin noted her team leaders “went out of their way” to support her. “They’ve given me opportunities at Booz Allen, introduced me to the company culture, and supported my move to Korea,” said Hyejin. “They’ve taught me what Booz Allen quality work is and shared the firm’s vision. I understand what true and caring leadership is. Through their coaching and mentoring, I’ve been able to hone my business acumen.”

One of her biggest surprises came when Hyejin and her leaders talked about her 3-, 5-, and 10-year plan.

“When I gave a textbook answer, they told me they didn’t want me to stay in one project too long or become stagnant,” Hyejin said. “They encouraged me to build my network, go to other projects, and learn more. Having previously worked as a contractor from job to job, now I was like a kid in candy store with all of this opportunity.”

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