Executive Vice President
Booz Allen Hamilton
Karen Dahut leads Booz Allen's Strategic Innovation Group, a 2,000-person unit that focuses on the digital analytics and cyber enterprise.
But she said her foray into technology was accidental. When Dahut graduated with a finance degree from Maryland's Mount St. Mary's University in 1985, most of her classmates went straight to Wall Street. Dahut joined the Navy.
Following in the footsteps of her father, another Navy veteran, Dahut spent six years working in financial support and information technology for the Navy, and then attended the University of Southern California to earn her master's degree in engineering. She quickly learned, though, that having an understanding of technology helped set her apart in her field.
Really push yourself and really commit to growing professionally in any job that you have.
Now, she works with public sector, international and commercial clients to “change the landscape around cybersecurity – being in a position to predict threats rather than to react to them," she said. She's also working with clients to move toward a more apps- and cloud-based infrastructure.
When asked what advice she'd give to women who are just starting careers in the sciences, Dahut said it's important to work on building skills in technology, data science, cloud, engineering and cybersecurity. “Those areas are going to be areas of study and employment for decades to come," she said.
She also said, “really push yourself and really commit to growing professionally in any job that you have – even though the job may seem sort of mundane."
Over the course of her career, Dahut said she hopes to be known as someone who instigates cultural change.
“It's sort of reminding people that you can be entrepreneurial. That you can be innovative. That you can use technology and analytics in different ways to really transform businesses," she said.
– Whitney Blair Wyckoff